News is information about current events and affairs. It may be delivered verbally, through letters, printed or written media such as books and newspapers, radio, television or online. It is often regarded as being the most important source of information for a nation or region.
The job of the news media is to inform and educate, not entertain. Entertainment comes from other areas – music and drama on the radio; crosswords and cartoons in newspapers and magazines. News should not be dull, however. It is possible to make even mundane things interesting through careful writing and presentation.
There are many different types of News, and the type chosen depends on a number of factors including its impact, how much it is likely to affect people’s lives and how quickly it can be reported. Generally, a news article is considered to be of most interest when it relates to something which happens very quickly or has an unexpected effect on a large number of people. It is also important for a news story to be of interest to the public at large – if it only affects a small number of people, it will not attract many readers.
Some examples of News include wars and other international crises; natural disasters; accidents; sports events; political events; and elections. National publications tend to report on more international issues and events, while local papers focus on those which affect the immediate community.
A key factor in deciding whether a particular event or issue is Newsworthy is its “news value”. Galtung and Ruge’s five criteria for evaluating the strength of news items are: newness; unusualness; significance; and about people.
In the case of a news story, it is important for the facts to be true, and for the writer to avoid inserting his or her own opinion. The use of quotes from people involved in a story can be helpful, as long as they are attributed to their actual names. It is also useful to avoid lengthy and complicated sentences, which can make the story hard to read. A good rule of thumb is to stick with the inverted pyramid format – putting the most important facts at the start, with supporting details following in shorter paragraphs.
It is important for a news story to have a sense of urgency, which can be achieved by keeping it as up-to-date as possible. It will not do a newspaper any good to write about a fire which happened last week; the community will already be talking about it. Similarly, a newspaper will not report on an event that has already been reported on elsewhere unless it has significant new information.
In a News article, it is sometimes appropriate for the writer to express an opinion, but only if it is well justified by the facts of the story. Otherwise, the piece can become biased and lose credibility. This is particularly important for news stories in which the opinion of a celebrity or politician is quoted.