News is information about current events and affairs. It can be published in newspapers, magazines or even on radio and television. It can also be read on the internet. News is often about significant or unusual happenings. It can also be about famous people. It can also be about sport, fashion or entertainment.
It is generally accepted that news has two purposes – to inform and to entertain. People are interested in news that affects them personally or that affects the world around them. People like to be informed about weather forecasts, train times and other useful information. They are also interested in current affairs, such as wars and political crises.
Stories that are about famous people are of interest because they can be used as a means of social commentary. The public is fascinated by what celebrities do and are particularly keen to know if they do things that go against society’s general moral standards.
Crime is also of great interest. Road traffic offences, break and enters, corruption, forgery and murder are all potential newsworthy events. However, it is the more serious crimes that tend to make bigger news. People are also interested in money and this can be reflected in stories about fortunes made and lost, business news (such as company takeovers and mergers), taxes, the Budget, food prices, compensation claims and wage rises.
All societies are interested in food and drink – so stories about growing crops, food shortages or the launch of a new food product are likely to generate interest. They are also interested in health – and stories about hospitals, clinics, diseases and traditional remedies all generate interest. People are also concerned with their appearance and this is reflected in stories about beauty, dieting, exercise, hairstyles, weight loss or cosmetic surgery. Sex is another topic that generates interest. However, most societies do not talk about sex in the open and therefore a story about sex that goes against societal norms will be newsworthy.
Getting the right balance between hard and soft news is the challenge for all journalists. A classic rule of thumb is that “Dog bites man is not news; man bites dog is.” However, this dictum does not always work as there are exceptions to every rule. In addition to deciding the type of news that will appeal to readers, journalists must be aware of how they want their article to appear and consider its value in terms of its use, objectivity and fairness. This includes a willingness to interview sources, whether experts or ordinary people, and to seek out different points of view. This will ensure that the news is unbiased and not skewed to suit a particular point of view. It will also help to write the news in an inverted pyramid structure, with the most important facts at the top. This makes for a more readable article and increases the chance of it being printed or broadcast. In addition, the journalist must remember to source the five Ws and H – who, what, where, when, why and how.