What is news? News values revisited (again)

Deirdre O'neill, Tony Harcup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

656 Citations (Scopus)


The deceptively simple question “What is news?” remains pertinent even as we ponder the future of journalism in the digital age. This article examines news values within mainstream journalism and considers the extent to which news values may be changing since earlier landmark studies were undertaken. Its starting point is Harcup and O’Neill’s widely-cited 2001 updating of Galtung and Ruge’s influential 1965 taxonomy of news values. Just as that study put Galtung and Ruge’s criteria to the test with an empirical content analysis of published news, this new study explores the extent to which Harcup and O’Neill’s revised list of news values remain relevant given the challenges (and opportunities) faced by journalism today, including the emergence of social media. A review of recent literature contextualises the findings of a fresh content analysis of news values within a range of UK media 15 years on from the last study. The article concludes by suggesting a revised and updated set of contemporary news values, whilst acknowledging that no taxonomy can ever explain everything.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournalism Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


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