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What is news?

April 8, 2008 - Lee Smith
Someone I respect recently visited me at the Sentinel and was wondering why we put a story on the front page about a salon closing downtown. I listened. I understand that not everyone is going to agree on "front-page material." Not even the editors here. Finding stories for the front page is part art, part science. It also involves, frankly, luck. That is, some stories reach the front because of the "slow news day." On another day, they very well might go on page 2. It just depends. I, personally, don't feel bad about that. But it can be a source of contention for others. In any case, what constitutes news are those things that are interesting and important. So the most interesting and most important things go on the front page. Who decides what's important and interesting? We do. But you do too. With exactly the kind of feedback my visitor gave me this week. Not that I would have changed my front page for that day. But her input helps me hone my "nose for news." We also compare our front pages to those of regional newspapers. Most of the time, they look similar. Which tells us other editors smell news a lot like we do. Now, whether you think the editors smell in their choices is another matter.

 
 

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