Pertinence pushes news to the reader
News need to be related to the readers in one way or another to raise their interest. This sounds like self-truth, but I didn’t actually realize it until bearing it in mind while reading today’s news.
The exclusive story with a big picture on the frontpage of Telegraph website caught my eyes at first glance, but the second I saw “postal strikes” in the right-hand column, I immediately neglected the top story and the boisterous MP expenses scandal presented just below the top story. I clicked on it and read it through.
Normally, such strike won’t affect me as an overseas student here in London, but right now I’ve got a mail to send to Manchester. The sooner it arrives there, the sooner I’ll get my money for living. I used up almost all my money, and if the strike goes on and my mail is not delievered, I’m afraid I’ll have to get momey somewhere else.
It is so true that what brings your news to the reader is pertinence.
Back at home I worked as an editor reporting world news. Most of the time, we prioritized news by their “weight”, i.e. a story got more time or a position closer to the top if US was involved than if any other country was. Under such circumstance, pertinence didn’t apply.
If this is true, can we make it pertinent? Is it appropriate that we find an angle to relate what’s happening to our audience, no matter how rigid it might be? I really don’t think so, because sometimes news just gives information, and the next day, who cares about what happened yesterday, even it is related?
An English cliche pops into mind: today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish wrapper.