Who cares? Deciding what is news

Every first year journalism student knows the core of the industry is rooted in the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where and why.

The real question is how do you decide if something is newsworthy in the first place.

Any marketer or public relations person will tell you they’ve struggled with this question at some time. Most companies/clients have a lot of “news” but not all of it is worthy for the media. We walk a fine line in determining what news to take to reporters and what news is for internal consumption.

Of course editors and reporters struggle with this as well. If they fail to deliver the news their audience desires, they will lose readership. Just look at what’s happened to major market newspapers. At the same time, delivering “news” that isn’t really newsworthy will lose the publication credibility.

The first step, then, is to understand what a publication wants to cover and what the publication’s readers what to hear about.

Nearly all publications are looking for a certain type of information. Unless a story is breaking news, the types of stories covered include trends, opinions that go against popular thought, use cases and tips, and new information on products, services, etc.

The next time you’re struggling with whether a story is news or not, take our litmus test. Answer one simple question: “Who cares?”

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