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T.O.W. #6: What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

February. 25. 2010.

To attract a significant amount of “press” towards a story, its needs to be newsworthy. So today, I answer the question: What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

To achieve its optimum amount of publicity, a story must have good timing, be significant, in close proximity, appeal to human interest, and have prominence.

Timing

A story is more attractive when it is current or the latest (a.k.a. “hot of the press”). Having a story on Michael Jackson’s death is most effective up to a week rather than six months after it has been announced. A writer has to make sure their audience is still interested in the topic and still has it as a subject that is brought up in everyday conversation.

Significance

Numbers, size, and amount in general affect how any people are willing to take time out of their busy schedule to read your story. The tragedy of Haiti Earthquake Disaster affected much more people than the East Palo Alto plane crash. Yes, both are tragic and horrific. However, the significance of the earthquake is on a much larger scale. As a result, people are more willing to read it.

Proximity

The location of an event is also an important factor. Most newspapers will write about events within their area. Living in New York, I kept up with the tragedy of the World Trade Center  much more closely and much longer than those that lived in Hawaii. Almost a decade after the hype, it remains a topic of conversation for New York residents.

Human Interest

Stories that appeal to human emotion through sympathy, the “shock factor,” or humor can swiftly grasp an audience. The story of the girl with eight limbs appealed to us through emotion; the story of the “Octo-mom” appealed to us through sheer “shock factor;” and the story of Danny Devito’s troll-like feet photographed in random places around the world appeals to us through humor.

Prominence

When famous people and celebrities are involved in an interesting (or even uninteresting story!), it always attracts a large audience. Tiger Woods affair with more women than you can count on both your hands is an explosive story. It has remained a hot topic for months.

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