Publicity, news, and news terms

Publicity – Information about an organization, issue, event, or cause that earns space and/or time in media. As a public relations strategy or tactic, it can be defined as the dissemination of purposefully planned and executed messages to selected media to further the interest of an organization or individual without specific payment to that media.

PR tools and techniques – Check the resources section entitled PR Tools and Tactics, and Tools of the Trade.

Buzz refers to the excitement caused by a product, celebrity, company, etc. It’s often generated by extensive media coverage.

News and news terms

Actuality – A news report from the scene. It includes ambient or natural sound and may feature statements by an on-scene reporter, witness/participant comments, an interview with a knowledgeable source, etc.

Angle – The approach or perspective from which a news situation or event is viewed or the hook chosen for a story. (See news values)

Assignment – Instruction to a reporter to cover an event.

Attribution – Identification of the source of a fact, judgment, or quotation.

Beat – The specific area (politics, environment, crime, etc.) covered by a particular reporter.

Byline – The writer’s/reporter’s name, usually at the beginning of the news item, story, column, etc.

Bumper – In broadcast, a brief item or transitional device used between segments of a program such as a newscast. It can be as simple as “we’ll return after these messages.”

Column – An opinion piece written by a staff or syndicated columnist. Many columnists are published on a regular basis.

Copy – Anything written for publication or broadcast.

Copy desk – The desk used by copy editors to read and edit copy as well as write print headlines (if necessary).

Correction – Errors that reach publication are retracted or corrected if they are serious or if someone demands a correction.

Editorial – An opinion piece written by the editorial page editor or a member of the publication’s editorial board.

  • Guest editorial – an opinion piece written by someone outside the publication who is an expert or has particular insight on an issue, event, or situation.

Embargo – An agreement between the media and the source not to use a story until an agreed-upon date/time.

Endmark – A symbol (usually -30-) used at the end of news copy and news releases to indicate “the end.”

Exclusive – A story only one reporter or small group of reporters has obtained.

Flag – The printed title of the newspaper on page one. (This often is incorrectly called the masthead.)

Flare – The main story on page one. Also known as a splash.

Graphics – All visual materials such as charts, graphs, photographs, etc.

Jump – To continue a story from one page to another.

  • Jump head – the headline, using the same words as in the jump line, on the continuation of a jumped story.
  • Jump line – a line inserted where the jump occurs to direct the reader to the rest of the story.

Kill – Pulling a story at any stage of the process. A story may be killed before it is even written or it may make it into the news line-up only to be killed later – sometimes at the 11th hour.

Lede – The print story’s opening paragraph.

Lead-in – Introductory comments to a taped or live story on a news event or situation. The lead-in often provides context for the upcoming story.

Line-up – The order in which stories are arranged in a newscast.

Live – A field report, newscast, or other report that is not recorded. Also, any material read on air in real time.

Masthead – The formal statement of the publication’s name, officers, place of publication, and other descriptive information. It usually is printed on the editorial or op-ed page.

Newsbreak – A brief segment with a couple news headlines and/or teasers to encourage viewers or listeners to tune in for the complete newscast.

News bulletin – A brief story on an important and often breaking news event that may cut into regular TV or radio programs.

News values – are those factors that determine the newsworthiness of events and situations. Although the following terms may differ from text book to text book and newsroom to newsroom, the essence of each is contained in all.

  • Impact – information about events/situations that are likely to affect a significant number of people in the media audience.
  • Timeliness – information about events/situations that is appropriate to the audience at the time it is published or aired. It may be that the information is timely now, it may involve seasonableness in that it is relevant to the season or a timely observance, or it may tie into a relevant anniversary.
  • Prominence – information about events/situations involving well-known personalities or institutions.
  • Proximity – information on events/situations occurring in an area covered by a particular media outlet or those that hit “close to home” psychologically with the media audience.
  • Human interest– information on events/situations that touch human emotions.
  • Unusualness – information of events/situations that deviate sharply from the expected or the ordinary. This may range from a little oddball to the bizarre and everything in between.
  • Interest – information about events/situations that are likely to captivate the interest of a large number of people in the media audience.

Op-ed page – In many newspapers, this is the page opposite the editorial page. It can contain staff/syndicated columns, guest editorials, letters to the editor, etc.

Placeline – The placeline (OTTAWA, NORTH BAY, Ont., etc.) identifies the geographical location of where the news event is taking place or the reporter’s base when writing about an event or situation.

Play – The way media covers a story. It may be played up or played down.

Pool – A small group of reporters chosen to cover an event for other reporters when the number allowed is limited by the newsmaker. When the news making organization has the power and ability to do so, it may embed reporters with those participating in the event.

Sidebar – A secondary story that explores an interesting or unusual angle related to the main story.

Simulcast – To broadcast over two facilities at once such as a newscast aired simultaneously on a TV and radio station (audio only) or on two different TV or radio stations.

Soundbite – A succinct and often catchy message that illustrates or encapsulates a story in just a few seconds.

Source – A person, document, or record that provides information – usually for attribution – that a reporter can use in a story. In some cases, if the news is sufficiently important or interesting, the reporter may agree not to name the source.

Standup – An on-camera report done by a field reporter. It may be taped or aired live.

Talkback – A brief sequence at the end of a live field report where the anchor chats with the reporter about the story.

Types of news refers to the kind of information – facts and opinions – that goes into a news story. This information may be hard, soft, or a combination of both.

  • Hard news – timely news about relatively serious events and/or situations that are important – whether they know it or not – to a considerable share of the media audience.
  • Soft news – not necessarily important or timely, soft news often is based on the news values of human interest, prominence, interest, and unusualness.
  • Spot news – also called breaking news, this is information about a current event or situation that is published or aired as soon as possible after it occurs or is available. The news may be hard or soft.

Types of news stories encompasses the kinds of stories found in media.

  • Breaking story – a story that involves currently happening or impending news (spot news). Details may initially be scarce but are released as soon as they are available.
  • One-shot story – a story that is published/aired one time only.
  • Running story – a story that is published/aired for two days or longer.
  • Update story – a story that provides at least some new information on a story previously in the news.
  • Round-up story – a summary of a news story that may or may not include any new information. It often relies on several different sources for a wider perspective.
  • Feature story – also called a feature, this type of story is more descriptive – and often longer – than regular news stories. Features are not usually tied to timeliness.
  • Brief – a concise news item, often grouped with other equally brief items that focus mainly on the bare facts (who, what, when, and where) of a story.
  • Copy story – a brief story or news item read by a TV anchor without any accompanying videotape.
  • Cover story – in a magazine, the main story featured on the cover. In magazine-style TV programs, it often is the major story.
  • Kicker – a brief story, usually light, that can be used to end a newscast or segment of a newscast.
  • Reader – a story read by the radio newscaster without any other audio material.
  • Voicer – an on-the-spot report by a radio reporter or a TV reporter who does not appear on camera. A voicer also may be done by a source reporting on a breaking story.
  • Wraparound – in radio, this is the live lead-in and close-out to a taped segment or actuality. In TV news, the reporter on the scene introduces a previously taped report then provides additional information and/or an update.
  • Lead story – the first story in a newscast.
  • Wire service – A news service, such as Canadian Press (CP) or Associated Press (AP). Although still called wires, these news services feed their reports to newsroom computers.