Elements of News
1. Timeliness. Based on the idea that news is something you didn’t know before which is significant or interesting to a group of readers, news items are basically timely or immediate. In other words, items are fresh and new as usually indicated in the news by the use of words “today” or “yesterday” or “at present time” and the use of the present tense in news headline as one principle in journalism. Although news is basically timely, it may not be always new or fresh, for it can be the development of an old event. There are news that are drawn from the historic past and are made to come alive by playing on or reporting the newest angle or latest development of the story. For example: Jose P. Rizal’s death in 1896 will always be presented on its newest angle as readers recall his death anniversary.
2. Popularity. Popular or prominent persons, places, or events make news. persons become popular due to their position, rank, wealth, intellect, talent, skill, personality, and achievement. Well-known places make news due to their tourism value, historical, political, economical, and social significance. Popular events are usually those that involve a multitude of people or some well-known personalities as in the case of the NBA games, Miss Universe Pageant, and film festivals. Most of the events or activities or any gathering that involves the president of the country is newsworthy. Besides, the president of a country is a significant figure and is undoubtedly a popular person. So even if the incident is routinary like the raising of the flag, if the president of a country does it on a certain occasion, it is a page one story.
3. Nearness. What readers consider interesting and important can be news but the degree of interest and importance will vary from place to place and from one set of readers to another. What is news in the province may not be news in Manila. What is important or interesting to high schoolers may not be that significant to professionals or businessmen. Nearness to the event affects readers’ interest. Reports or events that happen nearest to the readers or to those that directly involve them will be most interesting to them. However, nearness is not merely physical, it can also be emotional. As such news in Japan will be more of interest to the Japanese than to the Filipinos. But a report on the life of Filipinos in America will be interesting to the people of the Philippines because of family ties or emotional links. The election of a Filipino-American lawyer, Ben Cayetano, as governor of Hawaii has dramatically touched the Filipino nation as the story was prominently displayed on page one of the local papers.
4. Conflict. Events of ideas that involve physical or mental struggle, though these are not encouraged, would make news. These range from wars, rebellion, crimes, chaos, duel, or fist fight, and from games, competitions and even writing contests. As the various elements or criteria overlap, one event may have two or more elements portrayed as in a “word war” of two prominent personalities on a very significant issue. For this example of event, there are at least three dominant elements reflected: conflict, popularity or prominence, and significance.
5. Significance. Persons, places, events, or things that are of value, use, and significance are necessarily interesting to a set of readers. The reading public has to be warned of an approaching typhoon, an impending war, rise in prices of commodities and services, and bandits at large, even of new tax exemptions or measures. If it is worthknowing, then that must be news. Why should people be informed of such events of significance? It is because the newspapers has to serve the public and make people be more prepared and better equipped to face the trying times and life’s difficulties and tragedies.
6. Unusualness. Anything that deviates from the normal or usual flow of happenings attracts attention and, therefore, to some extent, are of interest to readers. The writer’s watchful eye, nose for news, and keen senses are for catching the peculiar, the special, the odd, the unique, the different, the rare, and the bizarre. Of course, you have heard of the Siamese twins, the mudfish baby with human lips, the three-legged cock, and thing like one for Ripley’s.
7. Emotions. Events, situations or ideas that cater to the emotions of people(not only those that tickle the minds), also make news. The poor, the street children, the disabled, the sick, — AIDS victims, are subject of emotional news reporting. Human interest situations draw various feelings from readers. Such may make the readers do something about some particular tragic events. For instance, reports on the victims of earthquakes influence readers to react to some charitable knocks to their hearts. Dramatic events like suicide, coup de tat, massacre, or hunger strikes appeal to the emotions of people, and are, therefore, newsworthy.
8. Gender. Newspapers cater to different groups of readers due to the varying interests and activities of men, women, and “in betweens”. A news is created when women invade men;s usual territories or vice-versa. Like when women first went into space exploration, or when a woman ruled a nation or when men dominated the cuisine and even reigned the laundering which society considers places for women. Example: When former President Corazon Aquino became the first Philippine woman president and when she was subsequently chosen as Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year, these two instances made big events for newspapers.
9. Progress. Reports on progress, whether physical, mental, economic, emotional, or social, constitute good news. Newspapers carry both good and bad news, for people learn from both events. It is just sad to note that generally speaking, some newspapers if not all the local papers consider “bad news as news”and “good news as no news.” The advent of development communication in the Philippine setting is good news. More developed countries in Asia like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand practised development journalism in such a way that freedom of the press is utilized in support to the economic growth of the country as in writing articles to support government programs aimed at improving the quality of life of the people is a healthy measure for the Philippines media to practice.
10. Change. Changes that affect the majority or certain groups of people make news. Some of these changes are change in administration and policies, change of name or popular places or events, changes of weather, fluctuating rates of exchange, change of partners of party mates, change of schedule or postponement and other major or even insignificant changes that may pave way for big events. While some changes are unexpected, there are also expected ones.
11. Names and Numbers. Figures, statistics, numbers, and series of names also make news. Many names would also make many readers. Numbers or figures are parts of reports on a good number of newsworthy events like election results, scores in games, ratings in examinations, and percentage of passing, vital statistics for beauty pageants, number or fatalities or casualties in catastrophes, accidents, and battles; prices of goods and services, increase in salaries, and other events that deal with figures. Names and numbers usually come together for these are two basic facts that reporters need to complete their news stories.