News is a form of communication that can be distributed through various media such as television, radio and the internet. It is an important tool to communicate new information, which can be helpful for people in a variety of ways, including providing updates on the state of the economy or society, keeping abreast of developments in their country and the world as a whole, and influencing public opinion.
Definitions of news
News can be defined as a piece of information which is not known to the general public and which is of wide interest in the present and which generates curiosity among the listeners. The term news has been used since ancient times, referring to government proclamations concerning royal ceremonies, laws, taxes and public health.
Common topics for news reports include war, government, politics, education, health, the environment, economy, business, fashion, entertainment and sport, as well as quirky or unusual events.
Whether an event becomes news depends on several factors, including the value of the story. Some factors are influenced by the news organisation’s own agenda, while others can be governed by practical considerations, such as how quickly an event happens and the availability of resources.
The news value of an event can be measured by its magnitude (the number of people involved), the relevance it holds to the audience, and the likelihood that it will make a positive impact on the reader. Traditionally, journalists have used these criteria as a guide to choosing what is newsworthy and which stories should be reported and written about.
Magnitude: A story that is perceived as sufficiently significant in the numbers of people involved or its potential impact on the reader, such as a death from fire or a war.
Relevance: A story that is perceived to hold particular significance in the audience, such as a development or an event that affects a specific group of people, their lifestyle or their national identity.
Oddity: A story that is considered to be unusual because it is not something that has been reported before or is unlikely to interest a large part of the population, such as the discovery by scientists of an insect living on a plant which it had never previously inhabited.
Emotion: A story that is deemed to be emotional because it relates to human interest, such as the death of a celebrity or a disaster in which many lives are lost, will have more news value than a story of a dog biteting a man.
Prominence: A story which concerns a prominent person will have more news value than a story which involves a relatively unknown person, because people are interested in what famous people do and their personal lives.
Weather: A story which affects the day-to-day life of a population is likely to be interesting. A shortage of water, a drought, a crop disease or a new brand of beer are all newsworthy events which affect people’s lives.
Objectivity, fairness and credibility are three essential qualities of a good news report or article. To ensure these qualities, a journalist cross-checks the facts of an article and checks to see how accurate they are. They also try to avoid any bias, which means they do not take a single side and make their own decision on what is right or wrong.