Why is that news? Here’s how some media houses determine what is news

By Admin. Updated 3:00 p.m., Monday, June 6, 2022, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

Discussion: From time to time, the comments section on social media pages of media houses get accosted with questions such as, “why is this news?”.

Some members of the public may be perplexed as to why some stories get carried as news, while others, reading the same stories might appreciate them as being newsworthy.

Determining what is news and what is carried as news are two different questions.

What is news?

News is generally what is of interest to people.

There is academic support, however, as to what are news values. In other words, what characteristics a situation should have for it to be considered for publication as news.

Here are eight (8) considerations that editors at media houses may consider to determine whether to carry a story. These have been adopted from Shoemaker et al. (1987), as cited by Perdue College of the Liberal Arts.


  • Timeliness – Shoemaker et al. also recognize timeliness as a critical news value.
  • Proximity – Similar to Gatlung and Ruge’s “Relevance.” The closer an event takes place to the intended audience, the more important it is. This is why huge local or regional stories might not make the national news.
  • Importance, impact, or consequence – How many people will the event impact? Issues like climate change have become big news in recent years precisely because environmental changes affect the entire planet.
  • Interest – Does the story have any special human interest? For example, the inspirational story of a person overcoming large odds to reach her goal appeals to a fundamental human interest.
  • Conflict or Controversy – Similar to Gatlung and Ruge’s “Negativity.” Editors generally deem conflict more newsworthy than peace.
  • Sensationalism – Sensational stories tend to make the front pages more than the everyday.
  • Prominence – Similar to Gatlung and Ruge’s “Elite People.” The actions of prominent people are much more likely to make the news than non-public figures.
  • Novelty, oddity, or the unusual – Strange stories are likely to find their way into the news. Dog bites man—no story. Man bites dog—story.

Every news outlet has a different protocol for selecting which stories to run, but some shared, traditional values can also determine the “newsworthiness” of a story. The more of these news values a story satisfies, the more likely you are to see it prominently featured in mass media outlets, Perdue College says.

Determining what is carried as news

While there are news values, it doesn’t mean that every story that qualifies as news would be published. In other words, there can be stories that fit the structural and content requirements of a news story and still not get carried.

Reasons for this are many, but may include the size of the media house (their man power), the ethical code of conduct of the media house, the interest of the editors, and the perception of what the audience might be interested in, among other factors.

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