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News values: What makes it news?


In this lesson on the values of news using the “Rule of Eight” and a few other news considerations, students will define and provide an example for eight elements of news (timeliness, proximity, impact, conflict, prominence, oddity, human interest, currency) and four other considerations (audience, policy, competition, presentation) based on a slideshow presentation and a vocabulary self-awareness chart.



  • Students will learn the key elements to decide what is interesting or important to readers/viewers.
  • Students will become familiar with the terms that news editors use to make news judgments.
  • Students will begin to consider who the audience is (where they live, how old they are, what matters to them), their own news organization’s policy, its competition and the presentation constraints.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.


50 minutes


YouTube video “What Makes News News”  by Rachel  Zidon (3:01)

Slideshow: News values: what makes it news

Handout: Vocabulary self-awareness chart

Test: Values of News

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Play the YouTube video linked above or any other short video in which students and/or professionals discuss their ideas about what news is. After viewing the video, open a discussion about what elements might go into deciding whether something is news.

Distribute the vocabulary self-awareness chart. Students are provided 12 terms that are elements of news judgment. To begin, they will look over the list and rate each word according to their understanding, using the procedure outlined at the top of the handout.

Choose one of the terms to provide an example from current news and definition.

2. Lesson on news values — 20 minutes

Present the slideshow “What makes it news,” providing a definition and up-to-date example of each. Ask students for additional examples from current news as you go along.

3. Complete the vocabulary sheet — 10-15 minutes

If you have journalism textbooks available, require students to read the chapter about how news is defined and use that to complete their vocabulary charts. Otherwise, set the slideshow to run automatically through all of the definition slides. Students should use newspapers, news magazines or news websites to help them find current examples. Students will move their check marks from the middle and minus columns to the plus column as they find examples and definitions of each term.

4. Reflection and closure — 2 minutes

Ask for one or two original examples from students. Ask them for ideas about how they can generate news stories at school using the news values they’ve learned.

Collect the completed charts or have students add them to their student manuals.


In addition to discussion responses, students should have fully completed the vocabulary self-awareness chart with correct definitions and appropriate examples.

End of unit assessment

After Lessons 1 and 2, administer values of news test. (Key provided)