The best definition of “news” I’ve ever heard

I’ve just been to a two-day seminar which was discussing what happens to journalism in a world (say, ten years hence) where everyone is always connected: with bloggers, “citizen journalists” (sooo emphatically not my phrase, or favourite phrase) all around, will hacks be able to make a living?

It all happened under the Chatham House rule (you can say what was discussed, you can say who was there, but not who said what). Anyway, here are some facts I learnt, in no particular order.

  1. Knife deaths may not be rising, but that’s because emergency doctors and surgeons are better than they were before at preventing life-threatening injuries turning into deaths. So in fact, there is reason to be concerned about knife attacks; it’s not a media invention.
  2. Some eyewitnesses (shall we say ‘citizen journalists’?) said that they saw a man being chased into Stockwell tube station in a padded jacket and jump over the ticket barrier. Subsequent reports suggested this was the man who was shot, Charles de Menenzes. In fact it was one of the pursuing police officers.
  3. Motorola sells a ‘kosher mobile’ in Israel. (No, you don’t eat it.)
  4. An error in the available length of a field for typing in the name of a country led to death threats and a huge problem for Motorola in 2001/2. I won’t go into it, but you can read about it here.
  5. “News is stuff that I care about, and stuff that I want to pass on.”
    This is one of the best definitions of news – as individuals perceive it – that I have ever heard.
  6. “News is stuff that you think people will pay attention to.”
    A (slightly less good) news producer’s definition of news; less good since that definition could also include advertising.

OK, perhaps it’s not a lot to show for two days, but “stuff that I care about, stuff that I want to pass on” is a magic definition. And the person who said it remarked “I’ve never thought of it before.” It was an off-the-cuff remark in the course of a short speech.

5 Comments

  1. “News is stuff that you think people will pay attention to.”
    A (slightly less good) news producer’s definition of news; less good since that definition could also include advertising.

    Are the two necessarily mutually exclusive? In many a trade mag the readers ‘care about’ the job ads much more than the editorial.

  2. Charles

    Wednesday 14 June 2006 at 11:53 pm

    Ben – sure, which is why many trade mags are having problems explaining why they have journalists. That was one sector that was identified as having a problem, especially in the light of an InfoWorld piece recently suggesting that “knowledge workers” prefer press releases to trade mags. (Link to follow.)

  3. am very ok with this definations of news.keep it up

  4. Musa abdullahi ciroma

    Tuesday 26 February 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Am ok with this defination

  5. I love this Definition

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