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How the media defines news

”What is new is information about something that has happened or been discovered relatively recently. And for it to be considered a novelty by the recipient, there has to be something that he didn't already know.”

Newspaper people speak of news values. There are lots of news that are being considered for the newspaper every day, and most of it won't make it all the way to the printed edition. In order to choose, the news has to be ranked. The basic rule is that the good news end up on the front page or on the pages following the front page. They can get great space while less importantly ranked news gets placed somewhere less attractive and/or obvious. On an individual page the top news are placed in the left hand corner, left top corner, which is the location to which the eyes are first drawn. The news are then placed in a descending order by their value, and at the bottom right there may not even be any news, but an ad.

In reality, it's obviously much more complex than this, with different departments, pages with special layouts etc, but the basic principle looks like this: Good news = on the front page or close to the front page, place high on the left hand side of the page. Today's very best news is at the top left of the newspaper's front page.

The evaluation is based on how dramatic the event is and how many it affects, and about how close it is geographically. Twenty people are killed in a fire in Sweden, so it ends up on the front page of lots of Swedish newspapers. A hundred people are killed in a fire in Botswana, but this may only result in a small note somewhere inside the paper. If twenty people are killed in a fire in Botswana, it's unlikely any Swedish newspapers will report it at all.

So how do you get into newspapers, radio and TV?

If you want to reach out with your news in the media noise, you must have something interesting to present - and it has to be interesting to the reader, not just for you. If your company has signed a new order that is worth several millions and created twenty new jobs, then you have a news story with some weight. But if you have just renovated your locker rooms or bought an extremely expensive photocopier, this is unfortunately not a big deal outside the firm. Nor that you replaced your plastic packaging with new eco-friendly cardboard boxes or put up the entire product catalog online. You might have spent hundreds of hours and invested plenty of money to make this happen, but hey – I'm sorry. That's not interesting to anyone but to you and your staff. What you have to bring is a novelty for the immediate family or already saved.

But relax. Don't despair. It's very possible that there are one or more trade magazines who think your news is interesting. Industry media is clearly an underrated promotional channel.

To summarize what we have just gone through: If you don't have something to say - keep quiet until you have found something really interesting to report. For a journalist nothing is worse than being bombarded with information about uninteresting things, and if you send out a lot of unnecessary information this can, in the worst case, make your best news end up in the trash without the envelope even being opened just by force of habit.


About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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