What Makes Newsworthy?

News are events, discoveries or developments of a public nature that have the potential to affect the lives of many people. They can be both positive and negative. News articles are typically factual and adhere to journalistic principles. News articles can be written for a variety of media forums, such as newspapers, radio, television and the internet. Regardless of the medium, all news articles should have certain characteristics to make them interesting and appealing to readers.

What makes a story newsworthy depends on many factors, but some of the most important are: that it is new, unusual, interesting and significant. It should also involve people, as it is human interest that drives most news stories. The location of the event is also important; a coup in your own country may not be as interesting as one in the next door.

The way the story is reported can change its significance; for example, a report of a murder is much more newsworthy than one of a burglary. The opinions of people also make a difference, for example an archbishop’s views on the ordination of women priests is more newsworthy than that of a peasant farmer. A story that is a blow to public morals or the reputation of public figures is also likely to be newsworthy.

While there is no definitive list of what makes a good news story, a number of theories have been proposed to explain why some events become newsworthy and others do not. Some are based on market research (e.g. Fuller 1986), which suggests that journalists prescribe to a set of criteria that determines what is considered to be newsworthy. This approach, however, is disputed, with some scholars arguing that it does not explain the character of news in any meaningful way and that market research can be misleading.

Other theories rely on empirical studies of published news stories, to try and understand the judgements that journalists make when selecting what is to be published. One example is the study of newspaper selections made in a city, by studying the entire contents of each week’s edition and following how each narrative develops through the course of that edition. This method allows for the identification of key news values, which have been described by scholars as cognitive news values. More recent empirical work has taken account of the ways that audiences are now selecting and disseminating news, too, influencing both the selection of stories and the way they are presented (Thurman and Myllylahti 2009; Welbers et al. 2015). This is also the case on social media, where audience recommendations and’shares’ are increasingly important in what stories are selected to be published. This phenomenon has been referred to as’social news’.