What Is News?

News is a collection of events, facts or information which have been reported in print (newspapers, magazines, and radio) or broadcast on television and the internet. It also covers the government, politics, education, health, business, entertainment and fashion. News is typically current, and may include an opinion. It is considered to be objective, although the fact that a person writes the news, or presents it, does give them a bias.

A person does not have to be a journalist to write news; anyone can report or broadcast news. However, the quality of a piece of news varies from individual to individual. A well-written piece will be accurate, informative and interesting. In the case of a newspaper, magazine or radio show, news is usually presented in a way to engage the audience and entice them to read or listen further. A good headline is important and it should be followed by an interesting lead-in paragraph or two which gives the reader an overview of the story. Then the main body of the news article should be written with a strong conclusion which often includes a restatement of the leading statement (thesis). The best news stories are placed “above the fold” in newspapers – the crease created when they’re folded and distributed. Online news articles are often designed to be viewed with this principle in mind; they are often placed near the top of the screen, so that people can see them without scrolling.

In most societies, some things happen all the time and do not qualify as news unless they are unusual. A man waking up, eating breakfast and going to work on the bus is not news, but if that same man was 90 years old and still catching the bus every day, then it would be news.

The classic definition of news is: “dog bites man”. This, though, is not a universal definition and the contents of what is reported as news will vary from society to society. For example, if dogs are eaten in one society, then it is not news when a dog bites a man; it will be news if the man happens to be the prime minister of another country.

Other common items which are reported as news are weather conditions, food shortages or gluts, crop diseases and prices in the market. Similarly, art news is of interest to many – for example when a major museum announces that a painting once thought to be by a particular artist was actually a forgery.

Whether the news is about a local incident or something which happened in another country, it needs to be accurate and unbiased. This is why some people prefer to get their news from a newspaper rather than a radio or TV programme; they want to be sure that the news they are hearing is correct.