Nine factors that determine news value

It’s always important to be reminded of the basics. Earlier this week I sat in on a presentation for new newspaper writers. The presenter went over the basics of news writing and what journalists should look for when thinking of stories.

The following are nine major factors that determine news value. As PR practitioners, we need to craft our pitches with the following factors in mind:

  1. Timeliness – Don’t pitch or send a news release about an event that happened two weeks ago. New news is always better than old news (unless it’s a source pitch about an anniversary of a major event)
  2. Proximity – Don’t pitch your news to the locals in Detroit if your company is located in Arizona and has no Detroit ties.
  3. Usefulness – People love practical tips and lists.
  4. Prominence – Even though cable news shows are always looking for sources, they would still rather have the leading expert (or someone famous) on to comment as opposed to someone with an uneducated opinion on the subject.
  5. Impact – The more people your story affects, the better.
  6. Novelty – The weird and odd stories are always an easy sell.
  7. Conflict – We love to hear about turmoil, fighting and the little guy defeating the big guy.
  8. Human Interest – People are interesting.
  9. Sex Appeal – Things that are trendy sell easier.

In your opinion, which of the above are the more important factors that determine news value?

2 Responses to “Nine factors that determine news value”

  1. Megan - November 3rd, 2009

    The basics are always good to review!

    I agree, timeliness is definitely No. 1 in news value. It is so important, especially in this real time world. With online resources like news blogs, Twitter and YouTube, people can receive news almost as it is happening. If a PR campaign or a news release is behind the times, it will not have much value to its public.

    I really appreciated No. 6 as well. Finding an interesting story or an unique angle to a mundane story makes it really stand out and gets people talking, which is always a good thing. It ties in nicely with No. 8, too. People want to read about other people. Finding out how the story affects others is key to drawing readers.


    BrianCamen Reply:

    Great comments. Timeliness continues to become more and more important with Twitter becoming an instant news resource for people. People no longer have to wait to read the morning newspaper or watch the 6 p.m. news. Twitter allows you to find out breaking news instantly.


Leave a Reply