What Makes News?
- Conflict is news
News in an adversarial system. Two sides equal a story. It is not a reporter's duty to evaluate the validity of either side. Corollary: Consensus is not news.
- Novelty is news
It's called "news" for a reason. Media chase the newest things.
- Extremes are news
The biggest, the fastest, the most expensive, the oldest, the youngest - These are words to warm a reporter's heart. Second-best, one of 20, top-third - These phrases won't have the same effect.
- Lists are news
Thank David Letterman. Anything that can be squeezed into a top-ten list is newsworthy. It has the appearance of precision and can be digested quickly.
- Television moves
Print media can accommodate a wide array of stories. To be effective on television, things have to move, change color, transform. TV people hate "talking heads."
- One third-party endorsement beats a dozen first-party endorsements
College-guide ratings, national rankings, recognition from outside are good fuel for the media fire.
- Trends are news
Frame the issue. Is it part of or on the leading edge of a significant development having a wider effect?
- Highlight the human element
WHO will your research/project help? Show me their faces. Let me hear their voices.
- Think like "Joe Average"
Would your work, your message compel the average person who has no background in your area of expertise, may have only a passing interest in your field of endeavor…and who is NOT your mother? If it would, then it's probably news.
Dead on Arrival: Recognizing a Non-Story
"What a great teaching job we do!" This story suggestion is a common one. One jaded reporter said in response, "At $10,000 a year tuition, you'd better be damn good at teaching." Variations include: "What a wonderful faculty we have." Or, "our graduates are very successful." It rarely works because everyone who's successful graduated from somewhere.