What is News?

News is the information that a newspaper, magazine, radio or television program provides about current events. It can also include information about how those events are changing the world. It is often based on fact but can also be opinion or bias, depending on the perspective of the journalist and how they present the facts.

People like to hear about what is happening around them. This is why they read newspapers and watch television and radio. They want to know what is important, interesting and significant. This information is usually about people and their relationships with other people, although it may also be about non-human events such as cyclones, droughts or earthquakes.

The earliest forms of news were verbal, with speeches, letters and pamphlets. This has now been replaced by electronic media such as TV and the Internet which allow large numbers of people to access the same news at the same time. The advantage of these media is that they can be accessed quickly, sometimes as soon as something happens, unlike a newspaper which has to be written and printed before it can be distributed.

Whether it is the weather, the decisions of government or the latest scandal, news must be current. It is not good enough to report what happened 10 years ago, or even last week. People want to hear about what is happening now and how it might affect them. This is why national papers will focus on events that affect a large proportion of the population, while local newspapers are more likely to report on community news.

News stories need to grab the attention of their readers so that they will keep reading. Using a headline and the opening paragraph of the story to explain what is important about the news will help do this. This is called a lead. It is the most important part of the news story and should answer the questions ‘who, what, where, when and why’.

People are interested in the lives of famous people – what they do, how they look and what they are wearing. They are also interested in health – traditional remedies, hospitals and clinics, diseases, drug trials and diet. People are also interested in sex, particularly when it goes against society’s generally accepted standards. Then there are food, drink and money: how rich people spend their fortunes, what foods are in short supply or expensive, compensation claims, wage rises and the prices of goods. People are concerned about the environment and will follow stories about pollution, environmental damage and climate change. They will also listen to the opinions of leaders in their own country and abroad on these issues. They will be most interested in those who have authority over them. This is why it is not unusual to find stories about politicians or religious leaders. It is also why the views of celebrities are often reported in the media. They have a wide following which gives them influence.