What Makes News?


News is the information about current events, obtained at every moment and everywhere, which is communicated to the public in a timely fashion. In addition to the speed of delivery, news must be clearly stated and illustrated to attract attention and hold reader interest. It must be reported objectively, with a minimum of bias and opinion. It must also be accurate and complete.

The news can take many forms: a fire breaking out at a building, an election result or a terrorist attack are all examples of hard news. But news can also be soft, a feature article, which takes a more in-depth look at a topic such as an event or an organisation. This type of news often involves interviewing people involved or affected, and requires a great deal of research.

Soft news may not change the world, but it will affect individual lives and communities. For example, news about the school a child attends, the jobs someone has and the money they have will be of interest to families. This can include stories about fortunes made or lost, business successes or failures, inheritances and trust funds.

Other topics that make the news include weather, food and drink, agriculture and transport. In societies that depend on agriculture, news about droughts, floods and pestilence are important. The amount of rain or sunshine in a region is also important to many people. News about the food supply, whether a shortage or glut, is always interesting.

A good way to understand what makes news is to study the newspapers and magazines in your own country and culture. How do editors decide what is important enough to report and how does this compare with other publications and community news outlets?

It is generally accepted that the most important news is reported first, but this is not necessarily true. In some situations, a large story will be followed by a smaller one on the same day. In other situations, the most important story will be placed on page 1 of the newspaper while less significant news will appear on inside pages or in bulletins.

People consume news in a variety of ways, from traditional television and radio to social media and mobile phones. Some older generations still prefer to get their information from network news anchors or the hometown paper, but the younger generation tend to favour online sources like Facebook and Twitter. Enewsletters are a popular choice for getting quick overviews of major news. For a more tailored experience, consider signing up for a newsletter such as The Skimm, VOX, or Refinery29. Try out news channels that focus on explainer articles and videos, too. These are good for giving a balanced overview of complex issues and provide multiple perspectives on an issue. These include VSauce, Vice and Flare’s Explainer series. The more you read and utilise a wide range of news sources, the more informed you will be. However, be careful about sharing news on social media without having vetted the source or checking for factual accuracy.