What makes a story interesting, relevant, or useful?

(compiled by Bob Stepno from many journalism textbooks)

Journalism professors, textbook authors and editors usually list the major "newsworthiness factors" or "news values" as six to 10 of the categories on this list. The definitions vary. Some lists also count the three general terms in the question above. There's plenty of room for overlap.

1. Impact or consequence ("So what?" "Who cares?")

2. Immediacy or timeliness (How new? How close to deadline?)

3. Prominence or celebrity

4. Proximity (Local? Where? How close to us?)

5. Conflict or controversy

6. Novelty or the bizarre or unusual (singularity, oddity)

7. Currency or a trend (issues "on the agenda" for continuing discussion, follow-up)

8. Magnitude ("How big?" "That many!?" Might not have proximity or direct impact.)

9. Necessity (from reporter's conscience, investigative work, analysis.)

10. Emotions or "human interest" (people stories; could be funny, sad, heartwarming...)

11. Entertainment (humor, history)

12. Helpfulness or how-to ("News you can use")

rev. 9/7/08