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News judgment and news values

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sprclogoFoundations_mainEthical guidelines
Student media should consistently and purposefully brainstorm what story ideas might be relevant and valuable to their audience. Students should not ignore those story ideas that might be sensitive or cause offense but instead should consider how to cover these issues in meaningful, sensitive ways. Student media should also recognize while audiences are likely to seek out news that’s personally interesting to them, news media have an obligation to also provide those stories that meet a standard for public service. Often, these stories will fall in the “watchdog” category and include political and institutional coverage. While the audience may not be intrinsically interested in these stories, journalists must use their best news judgment to provide a mix of what consumers want to know and need to know.

Staff manual process
Students should consider many types of news values when deciding on what to report. These news values can include timeliness, proximity, prominence, conflict, impact and human interest. Values are likely to change slightly depending on the nature of the media and the intended audience. However, a reporter who can find no distinct news value in a story he or she wishes to report should consider whether a personal agenda overrides his or her news judgment.

Suggestions
• Conduct staff brainstorming sessions to gather a wide variety of story ideas
• Use beats to help reporters develop keen news sense.
• Solicit regular reader feedback on stories that would be interesting or helpful. Bi-annual student body surveys or focus groups are a great way to improve readers in the process.
• Be aware and self-reflective of any personal biases that might impact news judgment.
• Establish a set of news values for student media, and when budgeting content, be sure to identify which news values are present in the stories budgeted.

Resources
News Values & Principles – (including on- and off-the-record, anonymous sources, etc.), Associated Press
Description of the traditional news values, Media College
User generated news value, Citizen J
Lesson: Infotainment: When News is Only About Entertainment, Journalism Education Association
Lesson: With Freedom of the Press Comes Great Responsibility, Journalism Education Association
Lesson: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Always Mean You Should, Journalism Education Association
Lesson: Making TUFF Decisions, Journalism Education Association
Lesson: Another Way to Examine Ethics: Red Light, Green Light, Journalism Education Association
News Values, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

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