How to improve your news sense
Ask any seasoned journalist how they know whether an issue is newsworthy, and they will immediately say it is all about news sense.
Ask them to define news sense and they are more hesitant. Some say it’s hard to define. Others talk about being ‘in touch’ with their readers (or listeners or followers) and knowing what would interest them.
The reality is that their answers are often very woolly. News sense for a journalist is an intuitive feeling that a story will connect with their readers. They can sniff a story and know in an instant whether it’s worth exploring.
That’s all well and good, but not very useful when you are trying to explain to others why a journalist will follow one potential story but discard another, or to learn or improve your own news sense.
We’ve thought long and hard about this and come up with a simple way to improve your news sense.
Four key features
For us, when writing a news piece and gauging whether it’s right for any particular publication we ask ourselves four questions:
Is the story interesting? What you are writing has to be interesting for your particular audience or readership. There’s no point writing about the intricacies of cake baking if your audience is only interested in football. So, ask yourself if your audience or readers would be interested in what you are writing. If the answer is a no or maybe, then the chances are your story is a non-starter.
Is the story important? Are you writing about something that your readers really need to know, regardless of how interesting it may be? It does not matter whether the issue is deathly dull. If the answer is yes, then it may be worth pursuing.
Is the story relevant? It doesn’t matter how interesting and important an issue is, if it’s not relevant to your readers. For instance if you are writing for a publication or programme for a defined geographical area, if it does not happen in that area, forget it.
Is it new? If your story is already out there it can’t be news. News means what it says. It has to contain information which is new. This doesn’t mean it always has to be some spectacular or unusual event. It simply means it can’t repeat what everyone already knows. It can however be an update or development of an existing well-established story.
So, news sense is knowing the particular blend of these four factors that works well for a publication, programme or website’s audience. More ‘highbrow’ media will place more emphasis on importance; tabloid or popular will go for stories that are more interesting.
A strong news sense is being able to judge issues and stories on these four factors and knowing how to mix these key ingredients to give the story maximum impact.
Do you want to make your writing more newsy? Contact Adam here or call 01788 335284 to find out how.