7 basic elements of news

In order to be classed as news, there are 7 basic elements that make a news story, news worthy.  These elements are Impact, Timeliness, Prominence, Proximity, Bizarreness, Controversy and Currency.

So how are these used in the news and how do they affect us as a reader?

Impact describes how many people the article is going to affect.  The greater number the more people that are likely to find the article interesting.

Timeliness – this is effected by the type of news, or publication the article is written for.  A monthly magazine is going to be less likely to pick up an article that is headline news, whereby the daily press will focus on articles that have happened that day, or will happy on the day of publication

Prominence – Articles that feature a prominent figure, such as a politician, or celebrity will hold more attention than those of a local person winning a local gardening competition and will of course be more inclined to be featured on a global basis

Proximity – this deals with the location of the news article.  A piece of news that features a burglary in your local area will be of more interest than one 200 miles away.  Those articles where there is a large number of people affected, such as the Nepal earth quakes will be far wider reaching, even though it is not a local event.

Bizarreness – is about how unusual a story is, recently the life saving dog at Sennen died and this appeals to a wide area of people, not just those in the village where the dog lived.

Controversy – usually a negative event, such as war with ISIS, many of the stories create sadness and anger and therefore create a more newsworthy article than something that is positive.

Currency is about what is in focus at a given time, safety over flying has had more prominence over the last 12 months than ever before, whilst there have been so many tragic incidents.

The six news questions

A news article should cover is Who ? What ? Why ? When ? Where ? How ?

So if we take an article where there has been an accident, it would be

  • Who was involved in the accident
  • What happened at the scene
  • Why did the accident happen
  • When did the accident happen
  • Where did the accident happen
  • How did it happen.

 The News pyramid and how does this effect the news that is written?

This is a three step process, using the 6 questions to outline the main points of the news article.  The second step, takes this information further, providing more details to the reader, with the final step, adding information that does not necessary affect your initial view of the article but provides background information.



Graphic source: Jason Whittaker OJNL 110: Writing for the Media 1 Writing News – The News Pyramid