What is News?

By: Jamie Hooker


News (n.): newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events, to put it literally. But, there are certain elements of newsworthiness that a story should have for it to be considered “news”. You want your story or pitch angle to include one or several of these elements so the public or media wants to actually read it.  These elements include: timeliness, proximity, novelty, prominence, impact, human interest, consequence, conflict, and scandal.

For example, if an average woman was to get her hair colored one day, that isn’t news. But, if a celebrity like Kim Kardashian were to go from brunette to blonde, you bet you would see a story on Twitter about it (there were several). This is because adding the celebrity element makes it prominent and more people will want to read about it. This is a very basic example, but you see what I’m getting at.

Proximity and timeliness are two good elements that stories should have when for local media. Austin, Texas media outlets will not cover a robbery that happened in San Antonio, Texas, and neither will they cover a robbery that happened two weeks ago.  Also, different combinations of the newsworthy elements can make stories relevant to different markets.

Speaking of different markets, we have to remember that something that is news to one person may not be news to another person. Some may argue that Kim Kardashian dying her hair is not news at all, but the target audience for E! News would disagree. Knowing your audience is key when deciding what story to run with.


The best news to me is human-interest stories, especially the feel-good ones. Much of the news you see revolves around accidents and death, and it’s refreshing to see a news story that puts a smile on your face. There is so much negative news going on in the world today in general, so an underdog story or a Make-A-Wish story once in a while is a good way to break it up.

News doesn’t always have to be so serious either.  Although it is important to do so, there are plenty of people who don’t keep up with the hard-hitting and world news who like to read novelty and anecdotal stories to pass the time. Something like “Woman lifts car off child” would definitely attract readers. Novelty stories are stories about people or things you don’t hear about every day, and sometimes those are better than the break-in the four o’clock is covering.

News can also be something that brings people together.  It can serve as a topic of conversation between two people on their morning commute. Without it, we wouldn’t know what’s going on in the world, and we wouldn’t know when to come together as a community for a common cause. During times of crisis, like 9/11, everyone is glued to their televisions and the Internet wondering what to do, trying to find out the facts.  Without news, where would we be?

As time goes on, new technology is emerging and things are changing, but one thing that will never go away is news. Something is always happening and there is always a story to tell. Some people argue that print media is dying and being a journalist isn’t the best career path to go down. Journalists would beg to differ, because there will always be a need for storytelling.