The Universal News Drivers

There are 10 Universal News Drivers​

The “news value” of a given piece of information is not governed by precise calculations. But if it falls into these categories, it has a higher likelihood of going viral or becoming a big story. Really big stories tend to fall in several categories. We call these News Drivers. These are more nuanced expressions of our primal need for information that Alerts, Diverts, and Connects us.

Here is how we define each driver. You can assume that surrounding all of these is the human demand for information about what is happening NOW. That’s why it’s called “NEWs.”

  • Importance

    • Stories such as those on long standing wars or international outbreaks of disease are deemed important for the public to know as it could have direct implecations on their lives right at that point in time. 

  • Prominence

    • A public figure of some sort is involved. That public figure could be a politican, or an entertainer. The fact that many know who this person it makes news about them something that draws the audience in. 

  • Human interest

    • A unique or universal experience explores the human condition.These are usually stories of the everyday man/woman who is caught up in a situation that most of the audience can relate or empathize with. 

  • Conflict

    • Clashes of people, institutions or ideas. Just like we mentioned with wars in the "importance" driver, conflicts between political parties are constantly in the news. 

  • Change

    • For good or ill, the world has changed. This is denoted by the fact that a belief, a law, or scientific discovery has changed the "face" of the nation. The debate over Same Sex Marriage has been the most prominent demonstration of "change" in the news. 

  • Proximity

    • NIMBY: News in My Back Yard -- News that happens in an area near the audience. We usually think about it as local news. 

  • Timeliness

    • Anniversaries or holidays or deadlines, the calendar is the crucial context of these stories. Remember the time you saw that story about Santa Claus delivering gifts to kids in the hospital? You saw that in December, not July (usually...). 

  • Magnitude

    • Numbers are the essence of this story. We've heard that this was the coldest winter on record -- or was it? How did it compare to previous winters? These kinds of stories deal in numbers. ​

  • Relevance

    • A story with wide impact. In this case, we think about the audience. If you're talking to a college students, word that interest rates on new college loans are going up may be on the front page, since it will impact many of them. 

  • Unusualness

    • Peculiarity– news that alerts and diverts. We use the example that "dog bites man" is usual, but man bites dog is unusual, and it becomes the story.