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Joy-Based News Values: Why They Should Be Our New Normal

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Journalists are one of the most integral parts of society. 

They are keepers of stories, they document what is happening from the scene so as to give honest updates to those that need it. 

Even if not being called “journalists” until between the 16th and 19th centuries, humans have always passed pieces of themselves and their lives down in their writing. People have always told the stories of the world around them, and those who are not able to speak for themselves.

As the field of journalism has grown, we have seen many things become commonplace that were once unheard of. Women are journalists and class no longer inhibits your ability to pursue a career in the field. One thing I personally am hoping to see become commonplace, and one of my biggest passions within the field is known as the Joy-based News Values.

Most stories are written following baseline “news values”. Some of the most commonly taught and accepted news values are: prominence, proximity, timeliness, impact, conflict, and unusualness. When writing a story, or when looking for a story you search out these aspects because they make for better articles that will be viewed.

However, a professor at Michigan State University, Perry Parks, is working to introduce new news values! Amongst these new values are humility, perspective, compassion, generosity, acceptance, and forgiveness. 

The idea of these isn’t to fill the media with “fluff” but rather to combat the part that news has in the current mental health epidemic. This allows for journalists to still give “hard” news, and the things that we provide to the public as a duty. But instead of stating the tragedy and leaving it at that, joy-based news values allow us to perform our duty to the public but give us the power to change the feeling that we leave the public.

When using joy as a news value we can get important hard-hitting news to people, and then inform them of what is being done to help, who is helping, and how they can be a part of it.

In a world where news is EVERYWHERE, there is no headline you seem to be able to avoid. In public there are posters on storefronts and newspapers by doorways, online there are notifications from every app you can imagine, and even in conversation, someone brings up a headline they saw earlier. Due to the unavoidable nature of media, it is important that journalists take responsibility for the power of what they put into the world, and what they are leaving to be taken away from each article.

A shift in news values isn’t a change that requires new computer software, or a new version of the AP Stylebook, it is just a shift in mindset so that when you close your computer or set the pen down, you have a little more faith in the world, and you give the same to your readers.

Cassidy Howard is in her second year at Michigan State, and her second semester with Her Campus. She is a social media assistant for the Michigan State Chapter. She is pursuing a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing. She loves writing in all forms and has had poetry shared in a global conference connected to the Corona Multimedia Showcase and was a member of the 2021 InsideOut Youth Performance Troupe, sponsored by Toyota, in addition to being able to perform some poetry on PBS’ Detroit Performs. More recently she has had poems shared in The State News and performed at MSU's 2023 FemFest. When not writing articles or working on her first published book of poetry she loves to listen to music and spend time with her cats- Thomas and Shadow.