What Is News?

News is information about events that has happened and is happening. It is what people hear on the radio or see on TV and read in newspapers or magazines. It can also be found online. It is important that the information presented in news is accurate and fair. People will not want to read or listen to a news report that is biased or has been manipulated.

The purpose of News is to inform and educate people. It can also entertain, but this is not a primary role for news. There are other areas in the media that fulfil this function – music and drama programs on radio and TV; cartoons and crosswords in newspapers.

A good news story starts with a snappy headline that informs the reader about the news item and seizes their attention. It then contains factual information, using quotes from the key players and a clear chronology of events. It should not contain the writer’s opinions and should be written in a formal tone. It should also be a short piece, not overly detailed and not too long for the intended publication or audience.

It is not always easy to decide what is newsworthy. There is much that could be reported, but it is the job of the editor to evaluate what is most important and relevant. This means that some events will be given greater prominence than others – for example, the biggest news items may be published on Page One of the newspaper or be broadcast first in the bulletin. Less important stories may be relegated to the inside pages or less prominent positions in a bulletin or magazine.

Some events are more interesting to readers or viewers than others, and this can be influenced by cultural factors. For example, in some societies a murder is more likely to be newsworthy than the loss of a cat. Money matters are always of interest, so fortunes made and lost, bank scandals, business takeovers and budget decisions all make the news. People are interested in celebrities, so stories about them, particularly if they involve behaviour that goes against society’s generally accepted standards, are newsworthy. People are interested in their health, so stories about hospitals and clinics, medical research, diseases and traditional remedies all make the news. Finally, all societies are interested in sex, although many do not like to discuss this openly and so it tends to be the exception rather than the rule that this is newsworthy.

The news industry is a powerful force that can influence the way that governments, businesses and individuals behave. It is often described as ‘the oxygen of democracy’ because democracies depend on an informed citizenry. It is important that the news industry carries out its role with care and diligence, and that it is free from outside interference. In this way it will serve its purpose and help to develop a better world.