Newsworthiness in Journalism

When considering the options in styles of a written piece, there are plenty to choose from; poetry, short stories, biographies, screenplays, informational texts, etc. But the one I’m most familiar with is journalistic writing.

Journalistic writing is a type of writing that helps report news stories. It is the kind of writing that makes your classmates scream in joy after finding out their favorite football team won the Super Bowl, or your parents cry after finding out the results of an election. It is the kind of writing that helps us keep up to date with the stock market, and hear about the latest scientific discovery. It is part of the writing that keeps the world turning.

If you ever decide to join a newspaper, magazine, or just want to write a journalistic article for fun, then it is important to consider your story topic’s newsworthiness. 

Newsworthiness is how important or relevant a story is worth reporting on, and is determined by seven main factors: timeliness, proximity, conflict, relevancy, prominence, rarity, and human interest.

  1. Timeliness

When did the story happen? 

A story that reports on something that happened in the last 24 hours will gain much more attraction than something that happened a few months ago. The more recent a story is, the more likely readers will be interested in your story, because they haven’t heard about it yet.

  1. Proximity

How close is the story? 

A new grocery store opening up in a town miles and miles away from your location may not be appealing to readers, but if you can take an angle in which you can make the story “closer” to your news site, you can turn the story newsworthy. An example could be if the founder of this new store was an alumni from your school. 

  1. Conflict

Is there more than one side to this story?

Readers will be more drawn into stories that have more controversy, or disagreements between different people. It is your job as the writer to report both sides of the story, and let readers decide for themselves on what they think of the story. Examples of conflict could range from Supreme Court nominations to the Homecoming dance theme.

  1. Relevancy

How much will your story impact the reader?

Once people finish reading your story, will it affect what they do, where they go, and what they think? A story in a high school newspaper on return to in-person learning will have a greater impact on readers than an article around Emma Chamberlain’s new coffee brand.

  1. Prominence

Is your story about someone who is more well-known?

Reporting on your school principal testing positive for Covid-19 will most likely reach more viewers than a story on your big sister’s friend testing positive. Not to say your principal is more important, but in a school community, your principal will be more well-known and reach a further audience than your big sister.

  1. Rarity

How unique is your story?

We are more likely to be drawn to stories that we have never heard of before. Some examples might include an elephant running wild in your neighborhood, a man with 100 pet cats, or a person who has decided to swim across the world.

  1. Human Interest

How much will readers empathize with the story?

If your article is on a topic that makes readers feel certain emotions, that can strengthen the power and connection from your writing to your audience. The general audience is more likely to read a story on a little boy nearly killed in war, rather than a house burning down.

These seven elements are not required in order for a story to be newsworthy, but the more elements you have, the more likely the stronger your story will be. Have fun keeping your readers engaged, and helping the world turn round!

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