What Is News?
When you think of News, you may envision the black-and-white journalism of a newspaper or the nightly recap on your local TV station. But News is more than that: it’s any information that affects your audience in some way. News can cover a city, state or even the world, but it can also be as small as an update about a department within your company. Whether you’re creating news articles for a general audience or for a more specialized group, the content should be accurate and interesting. In addition to being informative, it should grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading.
Historically, it was the journalists in the newsrooms who decided what was and wasn’t newsworthy. But as the digital revolution swept through the media industry, many new opportunities opened up for automated and efficient news gathering and dissemination. The traditional role of the journalist was largely supplanted by online news services and social media networks. These online platforms were characterized by their low barriers to entry, rapid updates and wide distribution. The internet allowed even the smallest news organisation to compete with the global giants of television and newspapers.
The definition of news has changed to reflect these developments. Edgerly and Vraga have defined News as “the extent to which audiences characterize particular media examples as news.” This puts the emphasis on the readers, viewers or listeners rather than the judgments of the newsroom professionals. It also capitalizes on the fact that everyone has a mental schema about what they consider to be newsworthy, and that people are able to make good judgments about specific examples.
To be newsworthy, a story must be new, unusual, interesting, significant and about people. It is important to remember that what is newsworthy in one society will not necessarily be newsworthy in another. For example, if a farm wall collapses and kills a cow but spares a pig, this will have very different levels of interest in two societies which place differing values on the relative importance of cattle and pigs.
It is also important that the story be about people: this includes accidents, disasters and health crises affecting humans, as well as human interest stories like celebrity scandals and royal births.
Finally, the story must be significant – this is usually judged by how big an impact it is likely to have on the lives of the people involved.
The best source for your News article is a primary source, such as an eyewitness account or video footage. But secondary sources can also be a valuable source of information, especially when they are expert in the topic or can provide details that can’t be easily found elsewhere. Aim to include at least a few quotes from your sources, but avoid using their opinions unless they are directly relevant. When you do use their statements, be sure to cite them properly. For example, always use a person’s full first name or both initials for personal references, and never use nicknames.