What is news?

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News values

Three categories

  1. Impact

    • threshold: event must pass minimum size/scale/intensity/effect threshold to be reported, beyond which greater impact = more coverage
    • frequency: sudden events more likely to be reported than long-term/gradually unfolding stories
    • negativity: bad news more exciting than good (also likely to score highly on other metrics)
    • unexpectedness: unusual more interesting than everyday (aka man bites dog not dog bites man)
    • unambiguity: easy to understand topics (fewer possible interpretations) more likely to be reported than those with complex background or requiring specialist knowledge.
  2. Audience identification

    • personification: stories presented in terms of actions of named individuals, or concerning particular people, or presented from human interest angle preferred to those presented as result of abstract social forces (which are more likely to be presented if can be illustrated via references to individuals)
    • meaningfulness: cultural relevance or proximity to audience preferred (language, identity, values etc.)
    • elite organisations/institutions: stories involving powerful actors more likely than those about less influential players
    • elite people: stories involving important persons (wealthy, powerful, famous, infamous) with influence on lives of audience more likely than those about ordinary people.
  3. Pragmatics of coverage

    • consonance: stories matching sector’s expectations of newsworthiness more likely to be reported than those which do not, journalists more likely to cover event for which they are prepared
    • continuity: story already in news and of persistent interest more likely to be reported, partly because previous coverage has made story more accessible to audience
    • compositional balance: story that adds to coverage range more likely to be reported than one that adds to pile of similar items.

Summary

Has something happened that is:

  • significant?
  • sudden?
  • problematic or controversial?
  • unexpected or unusual?
  • easy to grasp?
  • emotive?
  • proximate?
  • involving a prominent organisation, institution or individual?
  • expected?
  • ongoing?
  • suitable for the media channel?

The more criteria a story meets the better, but if a story does not meet any of these criteria for its intended audience it is unlikely to gain any attention.

Further considerations

  • What about the personal interests of the journalist?
  • What about research or time constraints?
  • What about the public interest?
  • How important is timeliness/recency?
  • How important is exclusivity (to a particular media channel)?
  • How important is the media channel’s content strategy?
Exeter Observer blog

An open letter to all members of the Exeter Observer team

The situation is changing quickly. The electoral commission have proposed the cancellation of the May local elections, several universities are moving to online-only teaching and it seems likely that there will be a wave of event cancellation announcements early next week.

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Free two day news writing seminar on 14 & 21 March

Want to help hold wealth, power and influence to account in Exeter & East Devon? Get involved in a new independent public interest community journalism project!

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Next community journalism course begins 22 February 2020

Want to help hold wealth, power and influence to account in Exeter & East Devon? Get involved in a new independent public interest community journalism project!

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Exeter Observer joins Independent Community News Network

Exeter Observer's application to join the ICNN has been successful, connecting us to a network of more than a hundred similar projects across the UK.

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Exeter Observer joins BBC Local News Partnerships

Exeter Observer's application to join the BBC Local News Partnerships has been successful, granting access to the BBC News Hub and Shared Data Unit and the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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Exeter Observer agrees regulatory framework with IMPRESS

Exeter Observer is now regulated by IMPRESS, the only Leveson-compliant PRP-recognised independent UK press monitor.

Exeter Observer blog

An open letter to all members of the Exeter Observer team

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Free two day news writing seminar on 14 & 21 March

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Next community journalism course begins 22 February 2020

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Exeter Observer joins Independent Community News Network

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Exeter Observer joins BBC Local News Partnerships

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Exeter Observer agrees regulatory framework with IMPRESS

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