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Fill in the gaps in the sentences with the correct forms of the words from the table.


  • Look at the pictures. Do you think that these events are worth mentioning in a national newspaper? In a local one? Give reasons for your decision.
  • What, from your point of view, makes an event newsworthy? Would all the events in the pictures be equally interesting for everybody?





· Before you read:

ü Think and discuss with your partner, what has been the most important news in your country recently? What made this news so interesting (exciting) for the community (nation)?

ü Can you imagine a fact that will probably become the top news for a small local community? A big city? A whole nation?



What is News?


The answer to the question “What is news?” may seem obvious. News is what is new; it’s what’s happening. Look it up in the dictionary, and you’ll find news described as “a report of recent events or previously unknown information.” But most of the things that happen in the world every day don’t find their way into the newspaper or onto the air in a newscast.

So what makes a story newsworthy enough to be published or broadcast? The real answer is, it depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, news is information that is of broad interest to the intended audience, so what’s big news in Buenos Aires may not be news at all in Baku. Journalists decide what news to cover based on many of the following “news values”:


Did something happen recently or did we just learn about it? If so, that could make it newsworthy. The meaning of “recently” varies depending on the medium, of course. For a weekly news magazine, anything that happened since the previous edition the week before may be considered timely. For a 24-hour cable news channel, the timeliest news may be “breaking news,” or something that is happening this very minute and can be covered by a reporter live at the scene.



Are many people affected or just a few? Contamination in the water system that serves your town’s 20,000 people has impact because it affects your audience directly. A report that 10 children were killed from drinking polluted water at a summer camp in a distant city has impact too, because the audience is likely to have a strong emotional response to the story. The fact that a worker cut a utility line is not big news, unless it happens to cause a blackout across the city that lasts for several hours.



Did something happen close to home, or did it involve people from here? A plane crash in Chad will make headlines in N'Djamena, but it’s unlikely to be front-page news in Chile unless the plane was carrying Chilean passengers.



Are people in disagreement about this? It’s human nature to be interested in stories that involve conflict, tension, or public debate. People like to take sides, and see whose position will prevail. Conflict doesn’t always entail pitting one person’s views against another. Stories about doctors battling disease or citizens opposing an unjust law also involve conflict.



Is a well-known person involved? Ordinary activities or mishaps can become news if they involve a prominent person like a prime minister or a film star. That plane crash in Chad would make headlines around the world if one of the passengers were a famous rock musician.



Are people here talking about this? A government meeting about bus safety might not draw much attention, unless it happens to be scheduled soon after a terrible bus accident. An incident at a football match may be in the news for several days because it’s the main topic of conversation in town.



Is what happened unusual? As the saying goes, “If a dog bites a man, that is not news. But if a man bites a dog, it's news!” The extraordinary and the unexpected appeal to our natural human curiosity.

What makes news also depends on the makeup of the intended audience, not just where they live but who they are. Different groups of people have different lifestyles and concerns, which make them interested in different types of news. A radio news program targeted at younger listeners might include stories about music or sports stars that would not be featured in a business newspaper aimed at older, wealthier readers. A weekly magazine that covers medical news would report on the testing of an experimental drug because the doctors who read the publication presumably would be interested. But unless the drug is believed to cure a well-known disease, most general-interest local newspapers would ignore the story. The exception might be the newspaper in the community where the research is being conducted.

News organizations see their work as a public service, so news is made up of information that people need to know in order to go about their daily lives and to be productive citizens in a democracy. But most news organizations also are businesses that have to make a profit to survive, so the news also includes items that will draw an audience: stories people may want to know about just because they’re interesting. Those two characteristics need not be in conflict. Some of the best stories on any given day, in fact, are both important and interesting. But it’s fairly common for news organizations to divide stories into two basic categories: hard news and soft news, also called features.


Types of News

Hard news is essentially the news of the day. It’s what you see on the front page of the newspaper or the top of the Web page, and what you hear at the start of a broadcast news report. For example, war, politics, business, and crime are frequent hard news topics. A strike announced today by the city’s bus drivers that leaves thousands of commuters unable to get to work is hard news. It’s timely, controversial, and has a wide impact close to home. The community needs the information right away, because it affects people’s daily lives.

By contrast, a story about a world-famous athlete who grew up in an orphanage would fit the definition of soft news. It’s a human-interest story involving a prominent person and it’s an unusual story that people likely would discuss with their friends. But there’s no compelling reason why it has to be published or broadcast on any particular day. By definition, that makes it a feature story. Many newspapers and online-news sites have separate feature sections for stories about lifestyles, home and family, the arts, and entertainment. Larger newspapers even may have weekly sections for specific kinds of features on food, health, education, and so forth.

Topic isn’t the only thing that separates hard news from features. In most cases, hard news and soft news are written differently. Hard news stories generally are written so that the audience gets the most important information as quickly as possible. Feature writers often begin with an anecdote or example designed primarily to draw the audience’s interest, so the story may take longer to get to the central point.

Some stories blend these two approaches. Stories that are not time-sensitive but that focus on significant issues are often called “news features.” A story about one community’s struggle to deal with AIDS, for example, is a news feature. A story about a new treatment option for AIDS patients would be hard news. News features are an effective way to explore trends or complex social problems by telling individual human stories about how people experience them.


From the Handbook of Independent Journalism

By Deborah Potter

Deborah Potter is executive director of NewsLab, an online resource center for journalists in Washington, D.C., that she founded in 1998. She has taught journalism as a faculty member at The Poynter Institute and at American University, and spent more than 20 years in TV news, including 16 as a network correspondent for CBS News and CNN



· Having read the text

ü Look back at the news you discussed before reading. Analyze them from the point of timeliness, impact, proximity, controversy, prominence, currency and oddity. Do you think that the news you were speaking about really deserved the place on the front pages?


ü Read the following clips:


The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has called for strengthened international safety checks to help prevent a repeat of nuclear crises. The official said UN experts should be able to carry out random reviews of nuclear power stations. He has also called for countries to carry out risk assessments on their reactors within 18 months. The watchdog, the IAEA, is holding a meeting in Vienna aimed at improving nuclear safety. (BBC News)
A 4-year-old girl was handed over to the wrong parents from the play area of an Ikea store in Uppsala in eastern Sweden on Sunday. "I don't understand how something like this can happen," the girl's mother, Lena Norman, told TV4 news. Lena, her husband Rickard, and their 4-year-old daughter Wilma had taken a trip to the popular discount furniture retailer for a day of shopping. After making their way through the store, Lena and Rickard returned to the play area to pick up Wilma only to discover in horror that she wasn't there… (The Local Sweden’s News)  


Tiny Bulgarian girl Tinka A. gave birth last month to her third child, son Dinko, just 23 months after she first became a mother. She was still playing with dolls when she met husband Biser — nine years her senior — aged 13. The pregnant youngster was forced to leave school, married at 14, and now lives in poverty on a cattle farm central Bulgaria, 30 miles from her parents. She spends her days looking after baby Dinko, daughter Naska, two, and son Gospodin, one. The legal age for sex and marriage in Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007, is 16 — the same as the UK… (The Sun)  


ü Discuss the following questions:

1. What sort of audience would be interested in such news?

2. Are all the facts mentioned in the articles newsworthy and important?

3. Which article would you call ‘a human interest story’? Why?

4. If you were given an assignment to write an article about the Bulgarian girl, what problems would you play up? Why?


ü Grammar

Words borrowed from classical Greek and Latin have tended to keep their foreign plurals in English longer than most other foreign borrowings. Fill in the right column of the table to check if you remember the correct plural forms of the following words. Use your dictionary.



singular Plural


Fill in the gaps in the sentences with the correct forms of the words from the table.

1. The __________of this University tale part in the conference together with the students and the University faculty.

2. An event is newsworthy if it happened recently. The meaning of “recently” varies depending on the ___________, of course.

3. English is the one compulsory foreign language on the university_______.

4. If this tax were abolished, it would act as a _______to exports.

5. We must analyze the _______ and double-check all the facts before we start writing about the crisis in Syria.

6. The doctoral _______ of some famous politicians have been in the focus of public attention recently.

7. Scientific explanations of these natural ______ are very interesting.

ü Sharing ideas:

1. Bring an issue of a newspaper and study it together in class. Discuss why some news stories are allotted the space on the front page of the paper. What makes these stories important? Would you allot them the same place if you were an editor of a big national newspaper? Would you give priority to the same stories if you edited a small local paper?


2. Role-play a meeting in the news-desk of a small local newspaper. Choose an editor responsible for the issue. Discuss the news stories, which are to be covered in the next issue of your paper. What space will be allotted for them in your paper? Why?




Date: 2016-01-05; view: 1754

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