News Values

Eight primary factors that determine the newsworthiness of a potential story.

  1. Impact: The significance, importance, or consequence of an event or trend; the greater the consequence, and the larger the number of people for whom an event is important the greater the newsworthiness.
  2. Timeliness: The more recent, the more newsworthy. In some cases, timeliness is relative. An event may have occurred in the past but only have been learned about recently.
  3. Prominence: Occurrences featuring well-know individuals or institutions are newsworthy. Well-knownness may spring either from the power the person or institution possess – the president, the Speaker of the House of Representatives – or from celebrity – the late Princess Diana or fashion designer Gianni Versace.
  4. Proximity: Closeness of the occurrence tot he audience may be gauged either geographically – close by events, all other things being equal, are more important than distant ones – or in terms of the assumed values, interest and expectations of the news audience.
  5. The Bizarre: The unusual, unorthodox, or unexpected attracts attention. Boxer Mike Tyson’s disqualification for biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear moves the story from the sports pages and the end of a newscast tot he front pages and the top of the newscast.
  6. Conflict: Controversy and open clashes are newsworthy, inviting attention on their own, almost regardless of what the conflict is over. Conflict reveals underlying causes of disagreement between individuals and institutions in a society.
  7. Currency: Occasionally something becomes an idea whose time has come. The matter assumes a life of its own, and for a time assumes momentum in news reportage.
  8. Human Interest: Those stories that have more of an entertainment factor versus any of the above - not that some of the other news values cannot have an entertainment value.

 

There are essentially three origins for a story:

  1. Naturally occurring "events" such as disasters, floods, earthquakes, fires, and airline crashes are inherently unpredictable and journalists must respond after the fact. News stories about disasters follow a predictable pattern: early reports, which frequently over estimate the severity of the disaster, rely on everyday people, because they’re frequently the only witnesses; later stories, assuming the story is newsworthy enough to become developing news over several days, tend to rely on officials – mayors and governors, insurance company representatives, disaster relief agency officials. This is a way the news becomes routinized.
  2. Created and "subsidized" news is more frequent than unpredicted news. It occurs because a person, group or organization either does something public and newsworthy and/or seeks press attention. Public relations practitioners participate in the process of news making.
  3. "Enterprise" news is made when journalists act rather than react as they do in a disaster or tragedy. This is called enterprise news because the editor or reporter takes the initiative on a story. These can develop from beat coverage and investigative journalism.

Broadcast Newsrooms

Station Manager or General Manager: Responsible for overall profitability of station and policies.

Executive Producer: Primary decision-maker for newscast and business management.

News Director: Responsible for news content and assigning news stories. This person has responsible for look and feel of newscast.

Editor: Review stories, is responsible for individual story contents so that it fits station character and policy.

Reporter/Journalists: Develop, writes and reports stories. May cover a specific beat or be a generalist.

Print/Newspaper

Publisher: Responsible for overall concept, look and feel and profitability of a publication.

Editor, Managing Editor: Responsible for editorial content. Setting stories and editorial policy.

Various editors:

City editor – responsible for news coverage in the community.

Sports editor – responsible for sports section content and news coverage.

Editorial page – Selects letters to editors, supervises editorial writers, does some writing.

Reporter – Most likely specializes in particular field but can also report on general topics.

Columnist - Writes a regular column usually pertaining to a specific theme or topic.