REPORTING NEWS: Huh? What Can I Report?

AIM: What makes something newsworthy? How do we know if something deserves a story?

The formula to follow is:

PEOPLE+ACTION+READER INTEREST = NEWS

There are certain news elements that make up what is news:

Nearness: An event that takes place nearby is usually more interesting than one that occurs further away. Although we should want to know about the rest of the world, what happens in our backyard is important to us at a more personal level.

Timeliness: A timely event is one that has taken place recently or will take place soon. However, timeliness alone does not make news. For instance, "There will be the usual weekly mathematics test on Wednesday" indicates an occurrence that is timely, but it lacks the other news qualities that create interest. This is not a news story on its own.

Importance: The news element importance might also be called prominence, size or consequence. The "bigness" of anything is one of the main factors in attracting readers.

Names: Names are important because people want to know names, even if they don’t know the person. Also, famous names draw big stories. Mike Tyson’s apartment burning down is more interesting than John Doe’s. People also like looking for names they DO recognize.

Drama or Conflict: The element of drama or conflict makes news. Elections, contests, discussions, arguments, and verbal or physical conflict: that’s news. Mystery and suspense may also be present. People love court trials, for instance, because they want to see how the conflict develops.

Variety: Unusual outcomes are news. Any event that is strange, original, has never happened before, or is not likely to happen again creates reader interest.

Human Interest: This is a hard to define news element. Either happiness or sadness may characterize human interest. The activities of the very young, of animals, or ordinary people with uncommon occupations… in short, any unusual items that have to do with DAILY LIVING are likely top contain an element of human interest: emotions, unusualness, etc.

Humor: Humor has a strong appeal for readers. Descriptions of comical incidents are always welcome. However, coarse or hurtful material, even though it may be funny, will repel more readers than attract them.