News is anything that informs or educates readers, listeners or viewers about the world around them. It can also entertain, though it is not the job of the news media to do so (music and drama on radio or television; crosswords in newspapers). Entertainment comes from other parts of the press – films and theatre, books, TV shows and cartoons.
To be considered news, a story must meet a certain criteria. It must be new, unusual, interesting, significant and about people. It must also be of interest to the audience you are writing for – something about which they will want to know. This last point is often the most difficult to determine – a coup d’etat in the country next door may be big news for some audiences, but it will probably not make much sense to others who do not share the same interests.
How a piece of news is presented is also important. It should be in chronological order, and it should include all of the relevant facts. It should not contain the writer’s opinions, and any statements should be attributed to a source. Finally, it is a good idea to include a byline indicating who wrote the article.
The headline is the first thing that catches the eye of a reader, so it is important to have a catchy, emotion evoking or curiosity creating title. It is the most important part of a news story and often takes more time to write than the body of the article itself.
Once the headline has been written, the rest of the story follows in a similar fashion to a newspaper article or a journal entry. Often this is done using the inverted pyramid technique, meaning that the most important information is included at the top of the news story and less important details are added as the story progresses.
This means that the reader is given what they need to understand the main event before moving on to other details, so they do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of information being presented.
In modern times, the speed at which news reaches the public is incredible. Events that would once have taken days or even hours to travel from town to town, or between continents are now reported on almost instantaneously by the television and radio networks, the Internet and mobile phones.
It is argued that the main function of the media, including television, radio and newspapers, should be to inform the audience about the world in which they live. It is thought that a free press is vital to this aim, since it allows for the dissemination of accurate and timely information.