Dr. Drissia CHOUIT

Moulay Ismail University


News Literacy

Reading 4.1.

News Values


Adapted from:

Potter, Beborah. Handbook of Independent Journalism.U.S. Department of State: Bureau of International Information Programs, 2006.





The answer to the question “What is news?” may seem obvious. News is what is new; it’s what’s happening. Look it up in the dictionary, and you’ll find news described as “a report of recent events or previously unknown information.” It is also defined as "information about recent and important events" and "the quality of being sufficiently interesting to be reported in news bulletins".


But most of the things that happen in the world every day don’t find their way into the newspaper or onto the air in a newscast. In fact, journalists decide what news to cover based on many of the following “news values”.





Did something happen recently or did we just learn about it? If so, that could make it newsworthy. The meaning of “recently” varies depending on the medium. For a weekly news magazine, anything that happened since the previous edition the week before may be considered timely. For a 24-hour cable news channel, the timeliest news may be “breaking news,” or something that is happening this very minute and can be covered by a reporter live at the scene.



Generally speaking, news is information that is of broad interest to the intended audience, so what is big news in Paris may not be news at all in Washington.



Are many people affected or just a few? Contamination in the water system that serves your town’s 20,000 people has impact because it affects your audience directly. A report that 10 children were killed from drinking polluted water at a summer camp in a distant city has impact too, because the audience is likely to have a strong emotional response to the story.



Did something happen close to home, or did it involve people from here? A plane crash in Chad will make headlines in N’Djamena, but it is unlikely to be front-page news in Chile unless the plane was carrying Chilean passengers.



Are people in disagreement about this? It’s human nature to be interested in stories that involve conflict, tension, or public debate. People like to take sides, and see whose position will prevail.



Is a well-known person involved? Ordinary activities or mishaps can become news if they involve a prominent person like a prime minister or a film star.



Are people here talking about this? A government meeting about bus safety might not draw much attention, unless it happens to be scheduled soon after a terrible bus accident. An incident at a football match may be in the news for several days because it is the main topic of conversation in town.



Is what happened unusual? As the saying goes, “If a dog bites a man, that is not news. But if a man bites a dog, it’s news!” The extraordinary and the unexpected appeal to our natural human curiosity.


Intended Audience

What makes news also depends on the makeup of the intended audience, not just where they live but who they are. Different groups of people have different lifestyles and concerns, which make them interested in different types of news. A radio news program targeted at younger listeners might include stories about music or sports stars that would not be featured in a business newspaper aimed at older, wealthier readers. A weekly magazine that covers medical news would report on the testing of an experimental drug because the doctors who read the publication presumably would be interested. But unless the drug is believed to cure a well-known disease, most general-interest local newspapers would ignore the story; the exception might be the newspaper in the community where the research is being conducted.


News Organization Agenda

News organizations see their work as a public service, so news is made up of information that people need to know in order to go about their daily lives and to be productive citizens in a democracy. But most news organizations are also businesses that have to make a profit to survive, so the news also includes items that will draw an audience: stories people may want to know about just because they are interesting. But it is fairly common for news organizations to divide stories into two basic categories: hard news and soft news, also called features.


Types of News

Hard news is essentially the news of the day. It is what you see on the front page of the newspaper or the top of the Web page, and what you hear at the start of a broadcast news report. For example, war, politics, business, and crime are frequent hard news topics. A strike announced today by the city’s bus drivers that leaves thousands of commuters unable to get to work is hard news. It’s timely, controversial, and has a wide impact close to home. The community needs the information right away because it affects people’s daily lives.


By contrast, a story about a world-famous athlete who grew up in an orphanage would fit the definition of soft news. It is a human-interest story involving a prominent person and it is an unusual story that people likely would discuss with their friends. But there is no compelling reason why it has to be published or broadcast on any particular day. By definition, that makes it a feature story. Many newspapers and online-news sites have separate feature sections for stories about lifestyles, home and family, the arts, and entertainment. Larger newspapers even may have weekly sections for specific kinds of features on food, health, education, and so forth.





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Oyabob Zakaria | Réponse 24.09.2020 17.04

Excellent madam

Abdenasser hamidi | Réponse 21.09.2020 17.31

Thank so much for these useful information I appreciate your work

sanae akhabbil | Réponse 21.09.2020 16.08

Thank you Madam ...

Ibtissam ess | Réponse 14.09.2020 19.18

Thank you professor for this , much appreciated.

Meryem Marouani | Réponse 09.09.2020 19.36

Thank you madam!!

Salah AIT-ALI | Réponse 15.11.2018 15.06

Very interesting Madam..
Thanks a million for this great effort you did and you are still doing with us..

Naima | Réponse 19.05.2018 00.51

Your student
Thank you so much.

your student | Réponse 02.01.2014 15.56

thank you so much

your student | Réponse 02.01.2014 15.45

hi my great teacher firstly I want to thanks u for ur effort and I have question about the exam Is it possible to give you the same definitions which u give us

Dr. CHOUIT 02.01.2014 15.52


Voir tous les commentaires


24.09 | 17:11

Thank you Madam for the huge and interesting information you'd provide us with

24.09 | 17:04

Excellent madam

22.09 | 15:44

Merci beaucoup

21.09 | 17:31

Thank so much for these useful information I appreciate your work

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