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So what is "Newsworthy"?

Washington Post Op-Ed columnist Colbert I. King raises a question that more and more people – readers and journalists alike – seem to be asking: who decides what’s newsworthy today?

Interestingly, King came to address this issue thanks to feedback from a Post reader who wrote to the editor after the murder of Marion Fye, a local African-American woman, received no coverage in the press until more than six months after the crime. This reader wanted to know how the Washington Post decided whether “one story is more worthy than another?”

King responds:

The decision to go with one story rather than another turns on what we in this business consider “newsworthy.” It’s an amorphous term, but editors claim to know it when they see it. Unfortunately, in my view, that decision seems to boil down to what those of us in newsrooms, and not readers, care about.

And there’s the problem. What draws the interest of people in the news business (what they like to read and write about) often bears little relationship to what people who live in communities like Marion Fye’s care about.

King deserves recognition for raising important questions. Exactly how are we being fed our news, and is it the news we should be getting? It seems that there is a growing restlessness among readers to engage in both the reporting of the news and choosing what news is important and relevant to them.

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