Do you want to know which elements make up a news story that will keep readers enthralled? Look no further. 

As a journalist, your number one priority is to inform the public about what is happening in the world. You can inform all you want, but if the story does not interest people, the story will never make it to the public.

Therefore, journalists have to use elements to ensure that a story will be worth viewing and will captivate its audience.

Here are five elements that make up a captivating news story: 

1. Capitalise on the shock factor

The ugly truth is that shock sells. It is a weird phenomenon, but people’s ears perk up whenever a shocking story comes out. For example, 9/11, Notre Dame on fire and Donald Trump being elected.

These are all events that shook the world, and therefore, people were running to get newspapers or switching to a news broadcast on TV or radio to find out what was happening. 

If a story has a shocking element to it, journalists need to report on it.

2. The story needs to be timely 

Breaking news always catches an audience's attention. But how can journalists ensure that stories that aren’t breaking catch the attention of your audience? 

With stories that aren’t breaking news, timing still matters as audiences will lose interest in the story the longer it goes unpublished. For example, a story about the best Christmas gifts to buy is only relevant before Christmas. 

Timing is extremely important with our 24-hour news cycle as stories become old news very quickly; therefore, if journalists sit on a story too long the audience will become less and less interested. Competition is another big reason why news outlets need to focus on timeliness because if they don’t publish the story as soon as possible, their competition might published the story first. 

As a journalist, there is always a race to be the first to break a story. Being the first to publish a big story will make your publication the leaders for that specific story and the one that other news outlets will follow. 

Audiences are much more concerned about the present than the past therefore journalists need to capitalise on stories that are happening now

3. Make sure the story is relevant to your audience

Very few people will read a story that is not relevant to them, their political views or opinions. This is because, as humans, we always like to be told that we’re right. 

This is why publications take a certain political or topical stance, and therefore, will only publish stories that fit that stance.  And because certain publications identify as conservative or liberal, it will affect the angle of which the story is reported from. 

Other publications focus on a specific topic, like celebrity gossip or travel. These publications would not necessarily publish political news unless it was in a way that suited their outlet’s topical stance. 

Not all stories will be relevant to a specific publication’s audience depending on their stance. Therefore knowing what your audience like and want is a big part of what makes a story successful.

4. Make use of visuals

Good visuals make an enormous difference to the number of views a specific story will garner. We are a part of a very visual society, therefore, it is very important for journalists to remember that visuals get a lot more attention than the actual text of a story. This is because people often skim the headline of a story and look at the pictures to get their news. 

Therefore, when using any kind of visuals, such as pictures, videos or GIFs, they need to be eye-catching. These are elements that will bring the reader into the story as well as help them get a better understanding of the content of the article. 

When journalists create a news broadcast on either TV or radio, they need to ensure that their video and audio quality is acceptable. This is because people will start to tune out of your broadcast if the quality is bad and they can’t see or understand what is happening. There are obviously situations where journalists will not be able to get crystal clear video or audio; however, they need to make sure if it at least understandable. 

5. Stories need to make an emotional impact

Stories that provoke an emotion will always be successful as they will have a big impact on a publication’s audience. This is different from the shock factor, as not everything that has an impact on people is ‘shocking’. For example, stories about good Samaritans and people breaking down stereotypes have a huge impact on an audience. 

Stories that have some kind of emotional impact and provoke emotion will always be a win for journalists, as one of the roles of journalism is to provoke emotion within an audience. It is for this reason that news outlets will often include human interest stories into their publications or broadcasts. These stories are very popular and have a big impact because they are about regular, everyday, people. 

When stories have an impact on people, they won’t be forgotten — whether it’s at the end of the TV show or when a reader closes their newspaper. They stick with people. This is the sign of a truly great news story. 

What else do you think makes up a captivating news story? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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Now that you know what makes a captivating news story, why not check out our article about the Five types of journalists you need to know about.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy