What is News?

By mcain Writing Tips Comments Off on What is News?

In today’s media news-based market the definition of which events, people and stories qualify as news has become as murky as a muddy river.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about news: what it is, what it has become and what is should be.

Most magazines, newspapers, broadcast and cable news channels cover a wide variety of what each of the establishment considers “news” for the 21st century market place.

The truth is most of it isn’t news. Most of what is being reported in the magazines and on news channels, and to a certain extent in newspapers, isn’t news. What is it? Well, its pop culture.

Here’s a hint for budding journalists, the following items SHOULD not be considered news:

  • Anything having to do with celebrities (unless a celebrity is running for political office)
  • Anything on the E! Channel
  • Personal lives of politicians (i.e. their sex lives, families, vacation choices, etc)

Call me a news purist but I think the news is something sacred and important to people’s knowledge and life choices.

How can you know what is and what is not news? How can you know what you can and should report on? Defining the news is a grey area and it’s somewhat ambiguous. However, here are some key questions to ask yourself to determine if an event or incident could be considered news:

  • Is it timely?
  • Is it important?
  • Does it affect a large number of people?
  • Does it affect the audience that reads/watches the news outlet you report for?
  • Is there human interest?

If after answering these questions you are still not sure if it is news or not, odds are it probably isn’t news. If you’re still in doubt ask your editor or another journalist. There is no shame in asking for help or advice.

Up next week: Finding story ideas.

Follow me @Miranda_Cain.

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