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Content vs. News

What are news factors?

As Andrew Boyd put it in his book ‘Broadcast Journalism, Techniques of Radio and TV News’ (1994): News values are “criteria that influence the selection and presentation of events as published news.” These values help explain what makes something “newsworthy.”
Free infographic "12 News Factors" – Download now

The Gatekeeper Function

You might have heard about journalists and their gatekeeper function. Simply put, journalists are responsible to their readership and audience to distinguish between attempts of blunt advertisement that aim to drive sales versus valuable information or entertaining stories. Journalists act as “gatekeepers” and only let such organization appear in the news that has a story to tell.

When deciding what becomes real news, journalists use these news factors to determine the newsworthiness of the respective content.

Hence, if you try to get in the news to achieve earned media recognition, it is helpful to understand these news values. When creating content you can use these 12 news factors to cross-check whether your content might be newsworthy for media. One might say the more news factors the merrier, but of course, all needs to make sense. What counts is the quality of the story. Never underestimate storytelling principles. An excellent story will always catch the interest of the right audience.

By the way, there are various theories with different amounts of news values that are recited when discussing the newsworthiness of content.  These 12 selected news values provide a very good range though and help to improve your content when aiming for earned media coverage.

12 news factors


Does the news come at the right time? Also, is it maybe better to wait with the release of a news in case media is too much focused on another topic right now? (e.a "Cycling season is starting in Germany soon")

Threshold Factor

The more people involved in or attected by a news event, the more newsworthy the story is. (e.a. "More than 1000 people died in car accidents in the first half year")


Clear answers to the
wh-questions: What? When? Where? Who? Whom? Which? Whose? Why? How?


Is the audience directly or personally affected by the news? (e.g. "Gas prices are rocket high - get a bike!")


If an information was somewhat expected or hoped for, it will become rather quickly a real news. (e.g. everything like "Outdoor pool season" or "Holidays Season" related but also something like "Tax reduction bill signed")


Was an information a news before, the more likely it will become a real news again. It is an ongoing story, so to say. (e.a. "protesters continue to glue their
hands on the highways to raise awareness for climate change")

Shock value / Surprise

Shocking moments and (positive or negative) surprise usually turn into news
(e.g. a volcano eruption, even if nothing got damaged and nobody got hurt or
a sheep being born with two heads)

Variation / Balance

In information turns into news if it helps to balance out the overall news landscape. (e.g. if an expert opinion is used to balance out a strong position of a politician claiming that cars will remain essential for future cities)


The more prominent a person involved, the more likely the topic turns into a news (e.g. Royal people buying ice cream or actors riding on bicycles to the movie


People like to hear and read about misfortunes of others raising
feelings of pity, sorrow, sympathy or compassion. But also general soft news like a baby beauty contest or pet stories have pathos - so called "tear ierkers."


Damage, Crime & Violence - conflict may be physical or emotional - it can be an open, overt conflict, like a civil uprising against authorities, or it may be an ideological conflict. Conflict usually makes news!

Titillation component

This is all about sex, lust and decadence. The category comes with little arousals connected to stories such as the latest underwear fashion or the naked bicycle rider associaton hitting the road.

Title photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

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