Defining Your Organization’s News Values

News values are the building blocks of a story.

The news values that we learned in journalism school include: timeliness, proximity, impact, prominence, bizarreness, conflict and currency (issues in the spotlight).

But did you ever stop to think about news values as related to your organization? For the past month, my organization has been conducting global communications training. As an international organization focused on child development in developing countries, we identified additional news values that included curiosity, understanding, engagement, innovation and positive
outcomes.

  • Curiosity: We work in 31 countries, some of which have changed names throughout the years. Others are so far away or so small that our supporters may know little about them. But because we work there, they want to know more about the countries – from the work we do to what the climate is like to the languages spoken to the food that is eaten.
  • Understanding: We defined this as walking in someone else’s shoes. This might include describing a typical day for a child in a developing country, for example.
  • Engagement: We want all of our stories to engage with our readers by either providing them with relevant information or encouraging our supporters to act in some way, whether it is making a donation, posting the information to their social media platforms or advocating.
  • Innovation: Changing a child’s life requires innovative approaches. One of our news values is sharing those innovative approaches. An example is a booking ceremony in Kenya. Traditionally, girls were “booked” for marriage at a very young age. Our approach was to work within the society’s culture and instead have the girls booked for education before marriage. This provides them with a better future.
  • Positive outcomes: We recognize that it’s not enough to share what we are doing but that in addition to sharing the solutions, we must share the results. In other words, we must measure and evaluate to determine the effectiveness of the programs.

As a first step to identifying our news values we brainstormed about what is unique about our work. From there, we developed our list.

What are the news values of your organization?

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