What is News?

 About this Lesson

Jeanne Abbott
Associate Professor.
Print and Digital Journalism.
Missouri School of Journalism.
University of Missouri

Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. The Boston Marathon bombings. The election of U.S. President Barack Obama. All of those stories were immediately covered by journalists around the world, and big headlines announced the news online, in print and on broadcast networks everywhere. What made those stories universally important? Editors and producers everywhere recognized these stories as important because they have certain characteristics that are called news values. Journalists apply these news values every day to make judgments about what to report and present to their readers and viewers.

What you will learn

After completing this unit, you should be able to:

  • Identify eight news values
  • Use those news values to analyze the potential of a story
  • Apply those news values to determine which stories are the most important
  • Understand the difference between news values and news principles

How the lesson works

First of all, this is an asynchronous lesson unit, which means no live events are scheduled for this lesson. You can complete learning activities at your own pace whenever is convenient for you. Despite the asynchronous nature, the learning tasks are organized to help you succeed.

To be successful in this unit, please complete the following tasks:

• Watch the lecture.
• Take the quiz to test your own understanding.  This will help you to strengthen the concepts you just learned.
Optional: Due to the amount of content to be covered in a single unit, we encourage you read these additional resources. Some of the quiz questions might come from the readings in Additional Resources section.

Watch the Lecture


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 Take the Quiz


Direction: Some of the questions might from the readings in Additional Resources below


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Lesson Resources

Lecture Script: Download it here

Printable Quiz: What is News?

ASNE Classroom Resources

Lessons: What is News?

Additional Resources

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, “The Elements of Journalism,” American Press Institute.

Amy Mitchell, Pew Research Center: “The State of the Media 2015

Michael Shapiro, Columbia Journalism Review: “The Value of News

Michael Skoler, Nieman Reports: “Community: A New Business Model For News

Society of Professional Journalists: “SPJ Code of Ethics


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