ComJour333 Assignment #1: What is News?

What is News?

Simply put. to me, news brings the public what they want to read, hear, or see through means of text, audio, and video content. News keeps us connected to what is going on around us, both near and far at all times, day or night. News delivers messages and helps us to stay informed, well-rounded, and able to form opinions on significant current events. News is a tool of teaching and keeps life interesting. If events and happenings didn’t transform into stories, would they still matter?

News is important if it shows people the consequences of actions (American soldiers with PTSD) or provides an interesting glimpse into lives. News can be of significance from all over the world but the target audience favors proximity to catch their attention for more than just a glimpse.

Characteristics that make a topic newsworthy include being current, controversial, interesting, and informative. The news does not need to maintain positivity, nor negativity. As long as content can be considered to be on a must-know or want-to-know basis, it is news. Stories that are current events make for the most important characteristic at the foundation of news. If stories are of interest to a large demographic of potential viewers/readers/listeners such as gun control in the United States.

External pressures that might force publishing decisions include the paper’s collective opinion on a matter needing/wanting to be heard, the demographic (target audience), a company that owns the news outlet, and so on.

Joan Didion on Journalism and Tragedy

-Morals (values and beliefs)
-Sermon in the suicide
-What were they thinking?


I take it Didion’s excerpt as being about the pursuit of knowledge and keeping creativity alive. The reference to the naked woman and wanting to know her “story” pertains to that notion. Didion speaks about the our need to know what’s going on in the world around us and the significance  of news journalism in today’s society. It is important to know the story to things happening around us. The world would be incredibly strange, barren, lonely place if things just happened without any sort of explanation whatsoever. Didion is just keeping things real and in perspective.


Story #2 “Biden says White House is Determined to Tighten Gun Law” from the Wall Street Journal

My group’s story, “Biden says White House is Determined to Tighten Gun Law” from the Wall Street Journal belongs at the top of our home page because it has the greatest appeal to the masses, seeing as how it serves as a follow-up to several recent unnecessary acts of violence in the United States in the form of President Barack Obama’s plan of action to combat gun violence in our country.

Gun control is a hot, fiercely contested topic that everyone has an opinion on these days due to several recent gun-related tragedies at an elementary school in Connecticut, a movie theater in Colorado, and at the Empire State Building in New York.

This is news that many people want to hear. It shows progress and initiative to a nation that is still grieving the loss of 26 innocent lives (many of them young school children) at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Although the American public still remains largely divided on the issue of gun control, to me, what this story does is provide a positive response to a negative storyline. News is all about timeliness and keeping things fresh and invigorating both in style and substance. This story follows a trend, a current event that people will rely news outlets to hear about. That is what makes this story significant and noteworthy. The fact that it appeared in a publication with the clout of the Wall Street Journal also helps to promote its legitimacy.

Classification: Headline News


Story #1 “Sacramento basketball team will relocate to Seattle, sources say” from Yahoo! Sports

As a Seattle sports fan, this story is of great interest to me. However, if you’re not an NBA fan, a resident of the Emerald City or Sacramento for that matter, do you really care all that much? The answer is most definitely a resounding “No”. This story might earn mention on the front page but certainly not something that should be a headliner for a national news outlet unless we’re talking about the sports page. There just isn’t enough national interest there, just civic pride and redemption for the basketball-loving citizens of Seattle. One might also make an argument that because the relocation is not yet a done deal that it takes away a bit from the need to highlight the story.

Classification: Sports (National and Local)

Story #3 “Dangerously Excessive” from

This is another sports story that may not interest readers on a national level all that much. Also, the Pac-12 clearing WSU head football coach Mike Leach of any wrongdoing in the Marquess Wilson abuse allegations provides a more well-rounded story that will draw the readers in. I do not think that a story by a media outlet with questionable journalistic standards and practices such as Deadspin that revolves solely on what anonymous players think about particular incidents that drew the complaints of abuse to WSU football is enough to take over a front page on a respected source of news information and content.

Classification: Sports (Local)

Story #4 “Acting Out War’s Inner Wounds” from the New York Times

The New York Times is a highly-respected juggernaut in the journalism business and provides quality writing covering a wide variety of topics from all over the news spectrum. This is a human-interest story that brings to light the horrors of war and the injuries suffered by the brave men and women that fight for America’s freedom on a daily basis. This article discusses the hidden scars inflicted upon our soldiers meaning psychological problems, traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD among other things. We still have fighters over seas and thus this story is a current event that everyday Americans will be drawn to. People want and need to be aware of these things, even if they provide heart-wrenching narratives relating to our loved ones, neighbors, friends, etc. This story is one that needs to be told and thus, commands our respect and attention. This is a newsworthy piece on a national scale.

Classification: Features


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