News is a timely report on an event, development or situation that is interesting, significant or important. News stories are usually written for a mass audience and may be published in newspapers, magazines or radio. News is often based on facts, but can also include opinions and interpretations. It is important for a writer to be able to distinguish between fact and opinion, and not to impose their own views on the story they are reporting.
When writing a news article, the first step is to identify the topic. This is often done by evaluating the ‘5 Ws’ – who, what, when, where and why. Using these points as a guide, the writer will try to find an angle that will attract and maintain the reader’s attention.
The next step is to decide if the story is of sufficient interest to write about. This involves judging whether the subject is important enough to merit publication, and how much detail should be included. The final step is to evaluate the accuracy of the facts reported, and make sure the information is sourced from a reliable source. This is particularly important when writing about scientific or technical developments, where the accuracy of the details can have a major impact on public perceptions of the significance of the discovery.
It is also essential to remember that not everyone will be interested in the same subject. For example, if an insect is killing crops, this will be of interest to farmers, but it will not be of interest to people who are not affected by agriculture. The same applies to cultural and political issues – what is important to one person will not necessarily be of interest to another.
In addition to the need to be timely, it is important that a news story be clear and concise. This is not always easy, but it can be achieved by focusing on the most important and significant elements of the story. It is also helpful to use simple language, and not rely too heavily on jargon – which can exclude those who do not share the same background or interests as the writer.
Many journalists also interview their subjects, and this is a valuable way of getting a more personal and detailed insight into the story. Occasionally, this may be more relevant than other forms of research, but it is important to balance the two approaches.
Finally, it is important to know your audience. While it is not the job of news to entertain, it can sometimes be entertaining in its own way – music and drama programs on television; crosswords and cartoons in newspapers. Knowing your audience will help you to decide how much humour is appropriate in your news articles. It will also help you to choose which quotes and facts to include. If a particular aspect of the news is especially interesting or dramatic, it may be worth emphasising this. This is often done in the headline, or in the lead.