A list of news values was put together by media researchers Johan Galtung and Marie Holmboe Ruge in 1965. They analysed international news stories to find out what the formula and factors were for getting them to the top of the “news agenda” worldwide.
The list provides a scoring system. It explains that a story that scores highly on each value is likely to come at the start of a television news bulletin or make the front page of the paper. They fall into three categories:
Impact identifies the threshold, frequency, negativity, unexpectedness and unambiguity of the story. Audience identification identifies the personalisation, meaningfulness, reference to elite nations and reference to elite people. The pragmatics of media coverage identifies the consonance, continuity and composition.
Galtung and Ruge’s analysis explains the pragmatic reasons why certain news stories are not reported. Their website explains the mass Burmese demonstration in 1988 that failed to receive media coverage. This was because the hostile regime of General Ne Win barred overseas journalists from the country. They contrast this story with the mass demonstration in 2007 that received more attention because civilians had the technology to report the story with their mobile phones to send instant coverage out to the news and civilians.
Galtung and Ruge argue that journalists tend to select stories that have high news values and score a one or more of the news factors.