What is News?
News is information about current events. It is disseminated through many channels including word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting and electronic communication. The purpose of the news media – newspapers, magazines, radio and television – is to inform and educate. It is not, however, necessarily to entertain – that can come from other sources – music and drama on the radio; crosswords in newspapers; etc.
The classic definition of news is that “If a man bites a dog and it dies, this is not news; but if a man bites a dog and the dog survives, this is news.” But even this is not universal – what makes a story ‘newsworthy’ can vary from one society to another.
In general, a story is newsworthy if it is new, unusual, interesting, significant and about people. In addition, the impact a story has on people – whether it is real or not – and the fact that it contains conflict (whether violence or not) can also make it newsworthy.
When writing a news article, the writer should always ask the five questions – who, what, where, when and why. Answering these questions will help the writer to decide on what is important and what to focus on. It is also important to know the audience. Knowing what the readers are interested in will help to ensure that the article is readable and entertaining. This is referred to as the ‘news value’.