Knowing what’s going on in your community, country and the world is important. But with so much news out there, from social media and TV channels like NBC and Fox to newspapers and magazines such as The Wall Street Journal and New York Times, it’s sometimes difficult to discern between fact and opinion, reliable journalism and fake news.
In addition, breaking news can be scary or overwhelming for kids, while older news articles may seem boring or too grown up for them. That’s why it’s good to have kid-friendly online and app sources that offer stories of interest to children, such as these news aggregators. Parents can also use them to start discussions about how news is reported and how to be a critical media consumer.
It’s also helpful to have a discussion about how news gets into the news in the first place. Many kids won’t think about the fact that a story doesn’t simply appear on their phone, computer or tablet screen by magic. They might assume that a newspaper or TV show simply takes a call from an eyewitness or official and then writes about it in the paper or broadcasts it over the airwaves. However, the truth is that the process of deciding what’s newsworthy is far more complicated than that.
There are a number of criteria that are used to judge the strength of a story, or its ‘news value’: Is it unusual, interesting, significant or about people? Does it affect the lives of a lot of people, or just a few? Is it happening now, or has happened already? Is it more significant than a similar event that happened previously, but didn’t get much attention at the time?
Some of the criteria might differ between societies, for example, whether an event is seen as newsworthy will depend on how much it disrupts normal life. But other criteria will remain the same, such as how fresh or unexpected the story is. For example, an event such as a car crash is likely to be big news in most places, but a robbery that only involves a small amount of money will not be as significant elsewhere.
Other factors can also be at play, such as how important an issue is to a certain group of readers. So while a farm wall collapse killing cows and pigs might be a significant event in one society, it will not be as significant to others. Similarly, newsworthy events might also be determined by how long they have been a known issue. For instance, a scandal that’s been rumbling on for a while will not be as big a story as an unexpected breakthrough in medical research. For these types of stories, it’s best to wait until a fuller account is available before writing about them. This way, you can be sure that you’re not reporting something that has already lost its impact.