What Is News?

News is information about current events, obtained from every moment and everywhere, conveyed to the public in a quick and objective manner. It is not a specialised subject; it must be reported for the benefit of all and must be impartial in accordance with its own ethical rules.

It is not always easy to decide what does and does not qualify as news. The classic definition of news is “dog bites man”; but it does not hold for all societies. If a society regularly eats dogs it will not be surprised when one bites a person – the event will be considered to be ordinary. Likewise, news about a cyclone or a bush fire may not surprise people in places where these events are rare but the weather is normally pleasant.

What is newsworthy will vary from one society to another but a common feature is that it should be humanly interesting or significant, and it should also have some element of drama. In addition to this, it must be ‘current’ – that is, it should have happened recently. In other words, it is not news that a man was killed in battle or that a new drug has been discovered; these things are hardly ever news. It is news, however, when a person achieves something unusual or remarkable – the classic example of which is the winning of a race or an election.

A journalist’s job is to find and report this type of news. The story must be based on facts, and should include quotes from the people involved. It must also contain the opinions of other experts in the field and any research done by the writer. A good newspaper article will be concise and to the point, with a snappy headline that clearly informs readers of the news topic while seizing their interest. It should also be well written, using the inverted pyramid format – with important information at the top and lesser information following. The article should also be proofread, since grammar and punctuation errors can detract from the overall quality of a news piece.

Lastly, it must be accurate, since this is the most essential characteristic of a news article. This is why it is vital to fact-check a story several times throughout its writing and, ideally, to have it independently checked.

It is also worth mentioning that audience influence on what does (and does not) make news has been increasing in recent years, as highlighted by Phillips (2012). She argues that audiences are selecting and disseminating news through their recommendations and’shares’ on social media sites, and this is having an impact on journalists’ own news selection decisions. It is likely, therefore, that the role of the audience in the process of news production will continue to evolve and develop. This is an exciting development for the future of journalism. Despite this, it is likely that newspapers will remain the main source of breaking news and that they will continue to be influential in agenda-setting.