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Elements of News

Reporting

and Writing Journalism and Media Studies Centre The University of Hong Kong

Kevin Voigt

Elements of News
Many journalists would say that an important or good story is simply one that people want to read or watch or feel that they have to.

Elements of News
Good

stories are often about terrible disasters and tragedies. But they can be about many things. They are good because they are important; they have value to readers and viewers.

Elements of News
The story that played out in Hong Kong and Manila last year had all the elements that journalists think of when they consider, What makes news? and What makes a good story? --Timeliness --Conflict --Importance --Prominence --Proximity --Unusualness

And plenty of this one: Human Interest

Elements of News
Journalists

think of good stories such as the hostage story as neither positive nor negative. just think of them as good stories. The stories are important and have value.

They

Elements of News
Basically,

two types of good stories:

Well-reported,

well-written or produced accounts of things that happen.


well-written or produced accounts of things the reporter develops in a unique way.

Well-reported,

Elements of News

More on these two types of good stories:

First type stories that journalists react to: the plane crash, terrible tragedies, surprise resignations.
As journalists, all we can do is give readers and viewers the most accurate and vivid story we can through quality reporting and writing.

Elements of News
Second

type of good story:

Stories

that journalists develop because of their curiosity and resourcefulness. Many follow-up stories in the hostage story came from journalists asking questions about the way things were handled. Such stories are the real value of a free press.

Elements of News
A

few years ago, journalists in Hong Kong developed the stories that led to a debate that put 500,000 onto the streets in protest against proposed national security laws. government dropped its proposals.

The

Elements of News
A

few years ago, journalists in Hong Kong also uncovered the news that the first SARS cases had been covered up on the mainland to avoid bad publicity on the eve of a big Communist Party meeting. mainland began reporting its cases.

The

Elements of News
During

the same SARS saga, journalists also told the story of a father and son stricken with SARS in the same Shenzhen hospital: the son left the hospital; the father never did. was a good story that showed how dramatic and perilous the situation was.

That

Elements of News
During

SARS, there were a lot more: --Hong Kong government missteps --Chinese U doctors press conference --large outbreak at one housing estate --heroic actions of front-line doctors
All

good stories; all newsworthy.

Elements of News
According

to dictionaries, News is: Something not existing before. Something discovered recently. Something seen for the first time. That definition covers both our types.

Elements of News
Those

dictionary definitions cover the types of stories we have been talking about:

Things

that happen. Things that reporters cause to be seen in fresh ways because of the questions they ask.

Elements of News
Lets

revisit our key elements:

Timeliness.

News is fresh and recent. Importance. News has impact and consequence. Proximity. News is relevant to us. Conflict. News is dramatic.

Elements of News
Prominence.

News is people whose names we recognize. Unusualness. News is abnormal. Human Interest. News is life, and all of the emotions joy, love, despair that lifes events can cause we humans.

What is news? Sliding scale


Stories

about what HAS happened

Disaster, accident, government action


What
What What

people say IS or WAS happening


people say will happen people are saying

Research, studies, scoops

Demands for action


`Warns, urges, calls in the headline

What is news? (Chapt. 3)


How

many people are affected? How permanent is the effect of what you are reporting?