News is anything that makes people say, “Gee Whiz!” Whether it’s breaking news from the front line of a war, a story about an artist or a new product launch, news has the power to make us think and act. It’s what keeps a civil society functioning, and it’s what informs the public of their rights and duties.
News values and models (like those in this News Manual) are important tools for deciding which stories are worth reporting. They help us determine the importance of different events and the level of interest they are likely to attract.
Some of the most commonly used news values are:
New and Unusual – This is one of the key criteria for choosing what is news. It’s not enough for something to be new; it needs to be something that is likely to be of interest to a large proportion of the population, and is therefore worth reporting. A scientist who finds an insect living on a plant it had never before been found on would not be of general interest, and would probably only merit a paragraph in a specialist publication.
Interesting – This is another key criteria for selecting what is news. It’s not enough to report that a dog bites a man; it needs to be something which is both unusual and significant. A story about a woman who gave her ten cents to a fund-raising event is more interesting than the businessman who donated $100.
Serious and Local – This is another key criteria for selecting which is news. It’s not enough to simply report that a coup d’etat has occurred in your own country; it must be something which is significant, both for your own country and for the world at large.
Feature and In-Depth Articles – A feature article is often less formal than a news article. It is typically written to deepen a reader’s understanding of an event or subject by adding additional background information. This type of writing may also take a more creative or exploratory approach.
Social Media – Many newspapers and other news outlets use Twitter or Facebook to announce their latest news. These platforms are popular with younger readers, and are an excellent way to share the latest news and opinions with your friends.
Write above the fold – This is an old newspaper term, but it’s just as important online where the most popular news stories are always placed at the top of a page to catch the eye of the reader. In online news writing, this is the virtual fold – the top of the screen before you scroll down.
Know your audience – This is an important consideration for all writers, but especially for those who are writing for a specific target audience. Having this information can help you tailor your article to that audience, and make sure your words are being read by the right people.
While the news is a vital part of a healthy civil society, it’s important to be aware that not all information is reliable. There are many rumours and false reports that circulate on the internet, and it’s up to you to check that the news you’re reading is legitimate and trustworthy.