The six situational news values speak to the qualities of a story that make it news to our readers and viewers. Valued by journalists for decades, situational news values are driven by what makes the story useful, relevant, valuable, and at times, entertaining to readers, viewers, and listeners.

They are impact, proximity, timeliness, conflict, prominence, and oddity or novelty. Impact. Always consider the way your news story touches the lives of your readers, and then write accordingly. As many newsroom editors have asked their reporters, “What is the givea- damn factor?” Consider a local employer laying off workers, a newly dedicated nature park, or a national retailer opening a store in the community. All these things affect the community. How close to the audience did the event, situation, or issue occur? In many cases, proximity to a news event will influence its impact on audiences.

For example, the water crisis that erupted in Flint, Michigan, in 2014 deeply affected thousands of children and adults who live in the city. Timeliness. When did the news occur—now, this morning, or tonight? How current is the news? News events break quickly and evolve continuously.


Readers and viewers want the latest information on pressing issues—not yesterday’s news.