What is published in print, online, and broadcast is selected by editors and producers, based on news values — the qualities that make an issue or event worth turning into a newsworthy story. The more news values an issue or event includes, the greater the likelihood it will be turned into a story for broadcast or publication.
The following factors are often used to determine an issue’s newsworthiness:
Current: The issue or event is recent.
Important: The issue or event is likely to affect its audience.
Unique: The issue or event is unusual.
Close: The issue or event takes place geographically close to its intended audience.
Competing views: There are opposing perspectives at play.
Famous: The issue or event involves prominent or famous people.
The editors and producers who select the stories that make it to audiences are often referred to as gatekeepers. Through existing editorial structures and processes, they, along with reporters, decide what gets covered, how those stories are framed (the way they get told), what is included and what is left out.
The news media are said to have agenda-setting power because the process of story selection and priority (what is chosen as the top stories) set the terms of public discussion and debate. This was truer before the growth of social media, when these media outlets were the only sources of news and information, but even today major news organizations maintain substantial influence.