What is News?

News is important information about people, places or things that have happened. It can be broadcast on TV or radio, written in newspapers, posted online or yelled across a school yard. News stories can include all sorts of things – accidents, disasters or other natural events, politics or business, wars and terrorism, celebrity or sporting achievements. News stories can also be about people – what they do, who they are and what their problems are. News can be interesting or exciting or boring or frustrating or controversial.

Traditionally, News has been considered to be anything that is new and of interest to the reader. Some theories of News writing suggest that it should reflect reality and be factual, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be entertaining or appealing. News stories are all about people, so they are often centred on famous people or their achievements. News about money – fortunes made and lost, taxes, schools fees, the budget, wages, food prices or compensation claims – is also important to many readers.

Stories about crime – road traffic offences, burglaries, murders, forgery or theft – can make the headlines, especially when they are committed by someone well known. Stories about health – traditional remedies, medical research, diseases and hospitals – also often have an impact on readers. Likewise, news about sex can attract attention, particularly when it involves behaviour that is unusual or goes against the social norm.

Local news stories are important, as are world events and weather reports. Some stories are of global importance, such as political turmoil in another country or major catastrophes such as an earthquake or a flood. Other stories are more specific, such as a fire or an accident at a local supermarket. These stories usually have a greater impact on the readers because they happen close to home.

When writing a news article it is useful to remember that people want the most important information first. The inverted pyramid model of news writing is useful, placing the most important or fascinating information at the top of the article – above the fold (a crease in a newspaper) or in the case of web articles, the bottom of the page before you start scrolling. This allows you to engage your readers and keep them reading. It’s also a good idea to write in a clear and concise manner so that the information is easy for the reader to understand, without losing the vital details. Finally, it’s always important to acknowledge your sources – where did you get the information from? The use of direct quotes is usually the best way to do this. You should always check your facts before publishing, and if you are unsure about something do not hesitate to contact the source for clarification. This will not only improve your credibility as a reporter, but it could help you avoid legal trouble down the line. This is particularly important if you are reporting on controversial topics such as politics or religion.