chapter  12
14 Pages

News Values and Selectivity

ByDeirdre O’Neill and Tony Harcup

Ideas about what news is and how it is selected have long fascinated the practitioners and scholars of journalism alike, although they tend to use very different language when discussing the subject. Legendary newspaper editor Harold Evans (2000, p. 2, 9) writes that “a sense of news values” is the fi rst quality required of copy editors-those “human sieves of the torrent of news” who select and edit material for publication-more important even than an ability to write or a command of language. But when it comes to defi ning this sense of news values, “journalists rely on instinct rather than logic,” according to veteran television reporter John Sergeant (2001, p. 226). In contrast, academics have described the production of news as “the passive exercise of routine and highly regulated procedures in the task of selecting from already limited supplies of information” (Golding & Elliott, 1979, p. 114).