What is News?


News is any item of information about current events, affairs and activities. It is reported by journalists and can be presented in a variety of ways including radio, television, internet and newspapers. News is often a mixture of fact, opinion and speculation. It is generally presented objectively and impartially but may contain biases and opinions. Its purpose is to inform and entertain its audience, usually with a sense of urgency and importance. It is a way to communicate ideas and information in a rapidly developing world.

The most common topic for news reports are war, government and politics, education, health and the environment but also fashion, entertainment and sport. Events such as natural disasters, fires and accidents are always of interest but in recent years more and more stories have been reported about crime, corruption, terrorism and climate change. The nature of news is constantly changing as new technologies develop and the way we live our lives changes too.

People need to know what is happening around them so they can participate in the community and make informed decisions about their lives. The main sources of news are governments, the police, industry and the media. It is important that the news is presented accurately and quickly so that people can act if necessary to prevent loss of life or property.

In order to be considered newsworthy an event or story must tick several of the following boxes:

Exclusivity: This involves being first to report on a particular subject. It can be achieved by being the only news organisation reporting on a major event or by having exclusive interviews with a person of interest. It can also be by being able to provide pictures and video which are not available elsewhere.

Impact: This includes whether a story is likely to influence the public in some way. It can be by providing a warning, informing or entertaining and is usually measured through a combination of readership figures and’shares’ on social media. It also relates to the degree to which a story is thought to be ‘clickable’ or’sharable’ on websites.

A good piece of news writing will include all the above elements and be written clearly so that the readers can understand it, picturesquely so that they will appreciate it and, above all, accurately so that they will be guided by it. It will also be placed ‘above the fold’ in newspapers, below on screen on the internet and in TV bulletins so that it will be seen by as many people as possible. It will therefore be more widely disseminated and have greater impact. In a crowded news market, this is essential if it is to remain effective. This is especially true as audiences themselves are becoming increasingly involved in selecting and disseminating stories. Moreover, the traditional distinction between the ‘news’ and the ‘unnews’ is being blurred by the growth of state-owned news networks such as Al Jazeera which have a global reach.