What Is News?
News is information about a change in something or a recent event that is important to the public. It can be reported in many forms – newspapers, magazines, radio and television. News can be good or bad, but it must always be current – the most recent events are more interesting than old ones.
The content of a news article may vary according to the type of publication and its target audience, but most will share some common elements. They include:
A headline – this should be short and snappy, ideally using Associated Press style guidelines unless the publication specifies otherwise. It should be followed by a byline (your name) and the date.
It must also contain a summary of the whole article, so readers can decide whether to read further. A lead should be included which is usually a restatement of the title and includes many of the key facts, including the location of any significant developments. The article should be factual and provide enough information for readers to form their own opinions, even if these contrast with yours.
The writer should be careful not to overstate their opinions, as this could annoy readers. Similarly, they should be wary of giving too much away in terms of the story itself. They should focus on the key elements and remove any filler that doesn’t add to the news value of the story. The news article should end with a conclusion which is a restatement of the headline and/or a hint at possible future developments relating to the topic.
Once a news article has been written, it is checked by the editor for content, style and language, before being published. Depending on the publication, this process can take place daily, weekly or monthly.
News articles can be about local, national or international events. They are usually written for a general newspaper or magazine readership, so they must be relevant to the majority of the population. They can be serious or funny, but the main aim is to inform and educate readers about current affairs.
National newspapers tend to be more political in their approach and will report on world affairs. They will often cover topics such as international conflicts and crises, but they can also feature sport or entertainment stories. Local and regional papers will typically focus on more local events, such as a murder trial or the weather.
Various factors determine which events become newsworthy, but probably the most important is that they are unusual or significant. For example, if an insect becomes widespread and is damaging crops, this is important to the population. It is a much bigger problem than an average bug or a garden pest.
Other criteria which can influence what makes news include celebrity, humour, excitement, contrast and surprise. In a study by the BBC, celebrity was the most important factor in tabloids, but it wasn’t as prominent in broadsheet and quality titles.