What makes a crime story newsworthy? The changing definition of news value in information era.

Written by Stanley Ho

What makes a crime story newsworthy? It is a non-stop question for editors and reporters in their daily practice. Jewkes (2011) argued that everyone of crime story is potentially a source of crime news. The critical issue is how to prioritize the stories and what should be reported in limited coverage. Jewkes suggested a set of criteria to determine the news value of a crime story, the elements included threshold, predictability, simplification, individual, risk, sex, celebrity / high-status persons, proximity, violence / conflict, visual spectacle / graphic imagery, children, and conservative ideology / political diversion. It is a matter about public appeal and public interest.

A recent study about news value by Harcup & O’Neill (2017) was telling another part of fact. The definition of “newsworthy” and decision maker may be changed. In the age of social media, everyone can be editor, report and audience. Some new elements make the crime news different. In this updated version of value, there are 15 criteria to value the level of newsworthy of case in social media. Comparing with the version by Jewkes, 5 specific ideas should be highlighted: shareability, entertainment, drama, follow-up and audio-visuals.

 Exclusivity Shareability Relevance
Bad news Entertainment Magnitude
Conflict Drama Celebrity
Surprise Follow-up Good news
Audio-visuals The power elite News organisation’s agenda

New value in the age of social media (Harcup & O’Neill, 2017)

New Ideas about News Value

 It is an ideal framework for the explanation of massive popularity of self-produced news product about sextortion, like the video “Facebook騙局:Double May大波妹” in YouTube. It made good use of the shareability of social media, created an entertaining and dramatic storyline, provided follow-up features with imagination, and showed their talent and creativity in audio-visuals making. It brings much possibility and opportunity of news production.

Reference:

Jewkes, Y. (2011). The construction of crime news. Media and Crime, 39-71.
Harcup, T., & O’Neill, D. (2017). What is news? News values revisited (again). Journalism studies, 18(12), 1470-1488.

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