"News can be defined as "Newsworthy information about recent events or happenings, especially as reported by news media". But what makes news newsworthy?
"There is a list of five factors, detailed below, which are considered when deciding if a story is newsworthy. When an editor needs to decide whether to run with a particular story, s/he will ask how well the story meets each of these criteria. Normally, a story should perform well in at least two areas.
"Naturally, competition plays a part. If there are a lot of newsworthy stories on a particular day then some stories will be dropped. Although some stories can be delayed until a new slot becomes available, time-sensitive news will often be dropped permanently."
Things to consider:
The word news means exactly that - things which are new. Topics which are current are good news. Consumers are used to receiving the latest updates, and there is so much news about that old news is quickly discarded.
A story with only average interest needs to be told quickly if it is to be told at all. If it happened today, it's news. If the same thing happened last week, it's no longer interesting.
Human interest stories are a bit of a special case. They often disregard the main rules of newsworthiness; for example, they don't date as quickly, they need not affect a large number of people, and it may not matter where in the world the story takes place.
Human interest stories appeal to emotion. They aim to evoke responses such as amusement or sadness. Television news programs often place a humorous or quirky story at the end of the show to finish on a feel-good note. Newspapers often have a dedicated area for offbeat or interesting items.
Stories which happen near to us have more significance. The closer the story to home, the more newsworthy it is. For someone living in France, a major plane crash in the USA has a similar news value to a small plane crash near Paris.
Note that proximity doesn't have to mean geographical distance. Stories from countries with which we have a particular bond or similarity have the same effect. For example, Australians would be expected to relate more to a story from a distant Western nation than a story from a much closer Asian country.
Famous people get more coverage just because they are famous. If you break your arm it won't make the news, but if the Queen of England breaks her arm it's big news.
The fact that a car hit a utility pole isn't news, unless, as a consequence, power is lost throughout a city for several hours. The fact that a computer virus found its way into a computer system might not be news until it bankrupts a business, shuts down a telephone system, or endangers lives by destroying crucial medical data at a hospital.
Everyone loves a good fight. Most political and sports stories have some sort of conflict. Popular topics often involved human vs human, human vs nature, etc.
Hard News vs Soft News
Taken from Media Awareness Network:
News stories are basically divided into two types: hard news and soft news. Hard news generally refers to up-to-the-minute news and events that are reported immediately, while soft news is background information or human-interest stories.
Politics, war, economics and crime used to be considered hard news, while arts, entertainment and lifestyles were considered soft news.
But increasingly, the lines are beginning to blur. Is a story about the private life of a politician “politics” or “entertainment”? Is an article about the importance of investing early for retirement a “business” story or a “lifestyle” story? Judging solely on subject matter, it can be difficult to tell.
One difference between hard and soft news is the tone of presentation. A hard news story takes a factual approach: What happened? Who was involved? Where and when did it happen? Why?
A soft news story tries instead to entertain or advise the reader. You may have come across newspaper or TV stories that promise “news you can use.” Examples might be tips on how to stretch properly before exercising, or what to look for when buying a new computer.
Knowing the difference between hard and soft news helps you develop a sense of how news is covered, and what sorts of stories different news media tend to publish or broadcast. This can be important when you want to write articles or influence the media yourself.
Accuracy and Objectivity
Accuracy in journalism is perhaps the most important element of one's writing. It is the duty and responsibility of the journalist to not only get the news, but to get it right.
Accurate journalism must be well-sourced, supported by strong evidence, examined and tested, and to the point. Journalist must only report on verified facts and not on rumors or speculation. Sometimes a journalist may not have the whole story, but they can present what portions they do know to be true and proven.
This means that accuracy takes priority over speed. "Being first and wrong is not a model to aim for. Being right, always reliable and measured is."
To ensure journalistic accuracy, the following measures and considerations must be taken:
This is a highly debated topic, as the question of "is there ever only one absolute truth?" is a constant struggle for all. Can a journalist ever truly be objective if objectivity itself does not exists? Or is it less important that the journalist himself is not object, but instead his or her method of journalism is objective? Hmmm, let's examine the word "objective."
If something is objective, it means that it is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts. For example, "her dress is red" could be considered an objective statement. However, the phrase "her lovely dress is the most beautiful shade of red" is no longer objective. But, which phrase is more interesting to read?
Therein lies the ethical dilemma of discerning what is the true meaning of objective journalism. Let's put on our thinking caps...
Editorializing is inserting your own (or someone else's) opinion or endorsement in an article. Unless you are quoting somebody else, there should be no opinion in a news article.
'Editorializing happens when a writer consciously or unconsciously expresses doubt, censure or praise in a news story. The only persons permitted to express an opinion in a straight news story are the persons in the story itself. Even then, the opinion quoted must be attributed to the person who gave it. News stories should be written in the third person. The writer’s personal opinions should never be injected into a news story. Facts should be reported as they are found, without personal pronouns referring to the writer.
Editorials are articles in newspapers or magazines in which the views of their editors or those in control of the periodicals are intentionally presented. However, such articles are clearly identified and purposely set apart from the publications’ news and features. The electronic media also offer editorial opinions, but they, too, take care to keep them separate from their regular newscasts.
Consider the following examples of editorializing in straight news copy, then note the following suggestions offered to eliminate the implied opinions:
Poor: Lt. Post is exceptionally well qualified for the position.
Improved: Lt. Post, with a degree in law, has eight years of experience as a Navy legal officer.
Poor: An interesting program is planned for tonight at the Officers’ Club.
Improved: Here is tonight’s program at the Officers’ Club."
1. Because the team is poorly coached, the team loses most games they play.
2. "I think the team would perform better with the right direction and stronger coaching," said the player.
Which of the above sentences seems editorialized?
Tips to avoid editorializing: