In an era when newspaper circulations are falling, while opinion-soaked websites thrive and pundits shout at each other on cable TV, what is going wrong with journalism? In this book, a leading media scholar looks at the changing nature of news. He explains how the concept of news has changed and why it is that way, offering clear guidance, strongly rooted in the precepts of ethical journalism, on how journalists can adapt to this new environment while still providing readers with the information they need to function in a democracy.
The newsworthiness of events depends on five factors: they must be new, unusual, interesting, significant and about people. A story that satisfies all of these criteria is likely to be a good one: it will catch the attention of the reader, and he will want to find out more about it.
People: Almost anything about people can become news, from their personal achievements to their problems and failures. Inevitably, many stories are about famous or well-known people; a celebrity death or marriage is big news. People also like controversies, and arguments, accusations, charges and counter-charges make good news.
Other people’s money makes the news – stories about fortunes made and lost, lottery wins and the like. Food is another subject of interest – shortages and surpluses, crop diseases, prices in the supermarket, the launch of a new brand of beer. Entertainment catches the attention of the media – stories concerning sex, showbusiness and animal welfare make the headlines. The weather also makes news – especially when it is extreme (cyclones, droughts, bush fires, floods, hurricanes and the like).