Elements of news
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Elements of News. What is news? Why is it news? Why is it published?. Every day, in every newsroom around the country, journalists apply “news judgment” – the ability to determine which stories are the most important and interesting to readers.

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Elements of News

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Elements of News

What is news?

Why is it news?

Why is it published?


  • Every day, in every newsroom around the country, journalists apply “news judgment” – the ability to determine which stories are the most important and interesting to readers.

  • The answer can vary according to newsroom. A community paper has a different focus and readership than a national newspaper.


So, what makes a story interesting to readers?


IMPACT

  • Does the story matter to readers? Will it have an effect on their lives?

    The bigger the consequences, the bigger the story.


IMMEDIACY

  • Has the story just happened? Is it about to happen.

  • Timeliness is crucial, especially when you are competing with other news outlets.


PROXIMITY

How close is this story? Did it happen in this town? This state? This school?

Nearby events matter more to readers than events in other cities, states or countries … usually.


PROMINENCE

Does this involve a well-known public figure or celebrity?

If so, readers will likely be interested.


NOVELTY

Is something, odd or surprising going on?

Readers enjoy the intriguing or unexpected.

As an editor once said: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news. But when a man bites a dog, that IS news.”


CONFLICT

Is there a clash of power? A political battle? A sports rivalry?

Reporters and readers both enjoy dramatic storytelling.


EMOTIONS

Does this story make us sad? Happy? Angry?

We all respond emotionally to human interest stories that are poignant, comical or inspiring.


Three goals of journalism

  • Inform

  • Educate

  • Entertain


Types of stories

  • There are three basic types of stories. Each has a different purpose and structure.

  • News stories answer the questions who, what, where, when, why and how

    in the order of importance for that story and usually in the first paragraph or two. (That is known as the “inverted pyramid” style). They usually revolve around the events or issues of the day.


  • Feature stories entertain, inform and stir emotions. They use less formal and more descriptive language than news stories. A feature sually focuses on who; sometimes on why and/or how. In feature stories, the structure can vary widely.


  • There are three basic types of features. News features are based on an interesting angle or aspect of a news event. Personality profiles tell about successes, challenges or other interesting aspects of a person and his or her life. Human-interest features tell a story that is unusual or deals with something usual in an unusual way


  • Editorials are the place in the newspaper where the newspaper publisher and/or editorial staff are allowed to express the opinions of the newspaper. Many editorials encourage actions the newspaper believes will benefit the community or nation.

  • Editorials are printed in a special section to help readers separate them from other, strictly informational stories.


  • Editorials are different than columns, which reflect the views and opinions only of the column writer.


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