In our Burnet News Club session a few weeks ago we looked at headlines, organising them from most newsworthy to least newsworthy.
I thought about what makes something newsworthy, and for the purposes of the rest of this post I came up with the idea of newsworthy being something that would spark interest and sell a lot of newspapers. I understand that there may be other interpretations and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.
When we did this activity, I ended up changing my mind several times based on discussion with my class. My original view was that 'terrorist attack in Iraq' and 'Everyone safe in landslide in remote Indian village' were very newsworthy headlines because they talk about important events happening around the world. I thought that would catch people's attention, as they would be interested to know about these events. Things like terrorist attacks and natural disasters are always big news and cause outrage and anxiety amongst people, so putting these on the front page of a newspaper would increase sales- which is ultimately the aim of a newspaper editor.
However, I then wondered whether the location of these things might affect whether or not people are eager to read about them. For example, a terrorist attack in Iraq, where things like that happen quite frequently, is less likely to spark interest than a terrorist attack in the UK. If this was happening closer to home, people would be grabbing newspapers off the shelves but fewer people might care if it happens far away as they might see it as having little effect on their lives. I don't think this is necessarily right or fair, but it is the hard truth.
When I thought about natural disasters, I thought that describing the horrors (for example number of deaths, injuries, effect on the environment) is also more likely to spark interest than saying everyone is safe. Again, this would have more impact as a news story if it happened closer to home, especially if it happened in the UK.
My final thoughts about the headlines- from most to least newsworthy- can be seen below:
Events including people who are well-known or famous are likely to engage the reader, so having this as front page news may make people stop and look and eventually buy the newspaper.
Events that happen close to home, particularly where these are horrifying or shocking or include details to make people worry about their futures, also sell newspapers.
Things that happen far away or on a smaller scale (for example the Kent cricket team) are less likely to feature on the front page of one of the big UK newspapers, but may be considered newsworthy in local newspapers or newpapers from the country of the event.
What do you think? How did you order these headlines? Did you have any different thoughts about what would be most newsworthy?