News Values

As well as the definitions of news that we looked at earlier, a simple guide
as to what makes a story newsworthy follows. A story is newsworthy if it is:
• something that affects a lot of people – new legislation, political or
social issues, jumbo jet crash, for example
• bad (or hard) news – accidents, such as plane and rail crashes, terrorist
attacks and so on
• of human interest – elderly pensioner leaves care home for mansion
after winning the Lottery or brave toddler undergoes heart and lung
transplant would fall into this category
• topical – contains a ‘today’ line
• informative – informs the reader of something new
• unexpected – lightning strikes York Minster, fire breaks out at Windsor
Castle, death of the Princess of Wales and so on
• something that deals with a subject that is currently in vogue – such as
road rage, hospital bugs
• a local or national disgrace – town councillor spotted in brothel, MP in
drugs scandal, say
• of general interest – that is, interesting to the widest possible audience
• something that involves celebrity – the Beckhams’ private lives, Liam
Gallagher’s love life, a soap star’s collagen lip injections and similar

• geographically appropriate to the receiver – stories from Aberdeen,
Derby and Reigate are of less interest to readers in Yorkshire, for
instance, than those from Harrogate, Leeds and Wakefield
• dramatic – life-saving rescues, medical breakthroughs and so on
feature here
• campaigning – examples here would be save our schools, don’t close
our cottage hospital
• superlative – man grows tallest sunflower in Britain, I’ve got the first
ever … longest … smallest … and other such stories
• sexy – Big Brother housemate caught in secret romp with Page 3 girl,
for example
• seasonal – it’s nearly Christmas so let’s look at the odds of snow or it’s
Easter, so let’s do something about chocolate or it’s summer – is there
a drought?
• amazing – 110-year-old great-grandfather still swims 20 lengths every
day in local pool, woman, aged 100, still working as a volunteer at
the soup kitchen she joined as a 17-year-old, psychiatric nurse writes
bestseller and so on
• an anniversary – for example, the world’s first test tube baby is 25
today or it’s exactly five years since the prime minister came to power
• quiet – there’s not much happening, so we’ll use that story about the
dead donkey.


SUSAN PAPE & SUE FEATHERSTONE, 2005, London, Sage Puclication