News is the information that appears in newspapers, magazines, radio and television. It is usually current, and may be reported from any part of the world. News can be dramatic or dull, and is usually presented in a way that will entertain the audience – music and drama on radio, cartoons and crosswords in newspapers. It is important to remember, however, that the purpose of news is to inform and educate the audience. This means that although it should be entertaining, it should not contain anything that is too inflammatory or which could lead to unrest in the community.
The information that makes it into a newspaper, onto a news TV or cable TV line-up, or into a news Internet site is determined by people who work for the newspaper, magazine, radio or TV company. These people are known as editors, or sometimes news directors. They make the final decisions about what gets into their media, after taking recommendations from reporters and assistant editors. It is good to tune in to a variety of news sources, so that you can see how different newspapers or TV channels or websites present the same stories.
In general, a story will become news if it contains a number of elements that are considered important by the audience. These include:
Controversy: People are interested in events that stir up controversy, or involve arguments and conflict. For example, a robbery is newsworthy if it involves a confrontation between the robber and the store owner. Prominence: Famous people, and what they do or say, often make news. This is particularly true if their actions go against social norms. Sex: Almost all societies are interested in sex, and want to know about any sexual behaviour that goes against society’s generally accepted standards.
Emotion: People are also interested in stories that arouse emotion, such as those involving tragedy or triumph. A sports team that wins a game is always interesting, especially if the victory or defeat is accompanied by drama.
Timeliness: News happens in the present, so it is of interest to most people. This is why news reports often contain a timeline of events. It is also why the present day news is often referred to as “breaking news.”
The information in a news article should be presented in a manner that is clear and easy to understand. This is particularly important if the news is being published in a language that is not the writer’s first language. If possible, quotes should be used from individuals who are knowledgeable about the subject matter, or have a direct connection to it.
Finally, a news article should be short. Readers may lose interest if the story is too long or includes too much inconsequential information. This is particularly true in the age of 24-hour news stations, where the average person might see five times as many news stories as they did in 1986. This has led to the development of the ‘informal pyramid,’ which groups the most important points into their respective “buckets.” In addition to the main facts, news articles should be concise and well written.