News is information about current events. It may be delivered verbally, in writing, by radio or television, or through other electronic communication devices. It is usually given in the form of a story and often contains a description of people or things involved. It also has a date and time, as well as any other important details of the event.
News can be gathered from many different sources – local and foreign radio and TV networks, wire services (wires that transfer information), the internet, newspapers and magazines. The information can be factual – an accident or a fire, for example – or it can have an emotional component, such as the death of a celebrity. News stories may also contain opinions or analysis.
The aim of the news media, including newspapers, magazines and radio – is to inform and educate their readers or listeners. It is not, however, a duty to entertain them – entertainment can come from other areas such as music and drama on radio, cartoons in newspapers or crossword puzzles in magazines.
Whether a story is newsworthy depends on how unusual, interesting and significant it is. It is also necessary to consider how the information will be received by a particular audience. A story that affects people directly is likely to be more newsworthy than one which does not. For example, a coup in a neighbouring country will be much more newsworthy than one that is taking place in an entirely remote part of the world.
Another factor to consider is how quickly the news is happening. A major earthquake or terrorist attack will be newsworthy in a very short time, but the same news will not be reported as rapidly in the case of a minor road traffic accident. In addition, the way a story is written has an impact on how newsworthy it is. For example, it is usual to use full names when referring to people in the news, rather than their initials, and this is particularly important in headlines.
Journalists make judgments about what is newsworthy all the time – it is the nature of their job. Market research helps them predict what the public will want to hear, but it cannot dictate what should be included in a piece of news. A good news writer will try to write a story which is new, unusual, interesting and significant. He or she will give the most important news first, above the ‘fold’ in a newspaper or on the top of the page in a magazine, in order to attract attention and encourage people to read further. They will also try to make sure that the story has a strong conclusion, which might be a restatement of the leading statement or a prediction of future developments which might be of interest to readers. The story should also contain enough facts so that any reader can form an opinion on it, even if that opinion differs from the author’s.