According to Public Relations Writings and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, there are seven factors that make a story newsworthy.
Timeliness- every journalist wants to be the first person to break a major story. And in the age of social media and the internet, the audience expects news to be delivered as it happens. That’s why timeliness is the most important factor in whether a story is newsworthy. A journalist wouldn’t wait until the next day to publish an article about a fire that destroyed a building. They would immediately write a story and get it ready for print and put it on the internet.
Prominence- If a well-known person is helping to host an event or attending a function, you can guarantee that the media will be there covering it. The presence of a well-known person naturally garners attention and coverage.
Proximity- Every story always tries to have a local angle, because an audience always cares about something that affects them locally. For example, when the earthquake devastated Haiti, many news outlets did stories on how that affected Americans. The George-Anne even did a story about a Georgia Southern graduate going to Haiti to help with the relief. Everyone always wants to hear how a story is affecting them personally.
Significance- Any time a situation or news story affects a lot of people, then it is significant. For example, a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina was significant because of the number of people that were killed, injured, or displaced because of the storm.
Unusualness- Anything out of the ordinary or unusual always garners media attention and attracts a crowd. Like having something crazy outside a car dealership during a big sale always garners attention.
Human Interest- People like to read about other people. The media likes to humanize stories so that we can relate or are inspired.
Conflict- When two groups advocate different views on the same topic, it typically makes news. People love to read about controversy.
Newness- Everybody likes to have the latest thing and products are often advertised as “new” which banks on this characteristic about society. The same goes for news. Anything that’s new makes the news.