Murders aren’t news

In 1890 mere brutal murders were so ho hum that they didn’t rate a mention, that is according to a list of ‘what makes news’ complied by Reuters in those days. Incisively, the venerable news agency prescribes what would attract coverage by their service:

  1. The wreck of an ocean liner or steamship
  2. A calamitous railway accident
  3. A fire or explosion involving serious lost of life
  4. A destructive earthquake, cyclone or inundation
  5. Especially startling crimes and outrages (mere brutal murders and  domestic    tragedies such as occur almost daily in every part of the world, SHOULD NOT BE NOTICED AT ALL)
  6. Popular disturbances
  7. An attempt upon the life of a monarch or statesman, or the discovery of some far-    reaching plot.

This is still the fundamental guide to attracting attention today, be that jagging a journal interview or trending on twitter. What piques peepers has a code.  For those working in the media, it is almost unconscious and for those still stumped, a mystery. Because the item is interesting doesn’t mean it rates as newsworthy.  Journalists and successful PRs have this instilled into their DNA.  The story you want run may not be of a calamitous nature but if it relates to a major event it is less likely to be spiked.  Conversely, if there is a popular disturbance, media hounds will soon be sniffing for a source.  Social media hasn’t changed the rules just put a rocket up them.  Interesting blogs and posts will of course gain a passing glance but to rate a like, share or follow the missive has to be weighted. If there is ever an ocean liner that runs into a train with a fatal explosion during a cyclone where millions are plundered while statesmen and monarchs duel, shout hold the front page.