News is information about current events and is usually published in newspapers, magazines and on radio or television. News focuses on people and their actions, but it can also include natural or man-made disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, fires or volcanic eruptions. People who produce or publish the news often have to make judgment calls about what is and is not newsworthy. They are trying to find the stories which affect the widest number of people or have the most influence. The aim of the news is to inform and educate, but entertainment can come from other sources – music and drama programmes on radio or newspapers which contain comics and crosswords.
A news story can be about a variety of things but there are certain things which are always more important than others. These are things which are new, unusual, interesting and significant. A story which is all of these things will be a very good one.
The biggest news stories are given the highest priority and appear first in bulletins and on Page One of newspapers; lesser news is given less prominence or appears later or in a different section. These decisions are often based on market research, although critics claim that marketing is not the only factor. The quality of a news article can also be judged by the fact that it contains only the information that is necessary for understanding the story and does not give any unnecessary details.
Various criteria are used to decide what is newsworthy, and these can be different in different societies. For example, people may be interested in the activities of their local government even though they do not directly affect them. They may also be interested in the opinions of influential people, for instance, archbishops or politicians. People are also interested in the activities of famous people and their lives. They may be particularly interested if these people fall from grace, lose their money or are involved in scandal. People are also interested in their health and are therefore concerned about medical research, hospitals and clinics, diseases, diet and exercise. People are also interested in sex, although they do not always like to discuss it openly.
National publications tend to be more interested in world affairs and major issues which effect the whole country. They also report on sporting and entertainment events. They have to appeal to a wider audience than local papers, and so they must cover a variety of topics which interest most people. They often feature articles about wars, government, politics, education, the economy, business, health, fashion and celebrity gossip. The news media is sometimes criticised for bias and lack of objectivity. This is especially true of some television and radio channels which are state-owned or controlled by political parties. However, these biases can be challenged by the use of unbiased journalism which seeks to present all sides of an issue. This is possible when the journalist is not afraid to challenge a popular belief or opinion and is willing to present evidence in order to test an idea.