Week 2 (17/2): What makes news news?

Mindblowing news. Photo: juhho/deviantart/CC
Mindblowing news. Photo: juhho/deviantart/CC

TOPIC: Understanding news and newsworthiness.

READ: Factors in newsworthiness; The 5Ws and H of News

The journalist

What does a journalist do? What does a journo need to be?

      • Asks questions to which public want answers
      • Perseveres to find the truth of events
      • Is accurate and balanced when constructing a story
      • Presents a story in the clearest and most powerful way
      • Has an extensive network of sources

Being a journalist

      • Tell real-life stories
      • Explain the world beyond a person’s direct experience

The job

      • Gather facts
      • Decide which to include and what to omit
      • Structure the story
      • Decide which words to use and how to package the story

Discussion: Do people trust journalists? Why or why not?

What makes a good journalist? (Practical Journalism: How to Write News, H Sissons, p4)

      • Curiosity! Be nosy
      • Being a people person – people watchers, listeners
      • A questioner – full of questions, intent on establishing as many facts as possible. Having courage to ask. No question is stupid!
      • A verifier – verifying facts. Question people, but also question what they tell you.
      • Accuracy is vital
      • Perseverance
      • Courage – in a war zone, or covering local council. Don’t reveal sources
      • Good news judge – recognise news
      • Able writer – you need to be able to express ideas and information in writing. A clear, grammatically correct writing style is critical
      • Creativity – use language in an original way. Think of new ways of using pictures and sound. Cover stories creatively
      • Competitiveness – be first and fastest
      • Ethics – do the ends justify the means? Should you knock on the door of a family who has just lost two children in a car accident? Call first? Leave a note?
      • Fairness
      • Balance
      • Objectivity
      • Cultivation of contacts – keep an up-to-date contact book – hard copy or electronic – and back it up.
      • Well-read – stay informed and up-to-date
be informed
Getting the news. Picture: European Parliament/flickr/CC

Knowing the news

  1. List the news organisations that you know of
    • Local
    • State
    • National
    • International

and consider the following questions.

    • Who reads each publication, listens to or watches each station or channel, and why?
    • Analyse the audience
    • Which do you read, listen to, or watch regularly?

2. Identify the top stories in the news today.

    • List the biggest stories
    • Why are they the top stories?
    • Why do you think they are news?

With each news story you read, note how good writing makes it easy for the reader. Good writers use:

    • Everyday words
    • Short, simply structured sentences
    • Active verbs
    • Anecdotes and quotes

Was it difficult to identify exactly what made the top stories on the sites you studied worthwhile?

Find the same news story on two different news sites. How are the same stories treated by different sites?

Author: veritychambers

Journalist and teacher

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