News is a report about something that has just happened or that provides the latest information about an event that has already happened. It is a subject of interest to many people and it can generate curiosity. News should be informative and educate readers, listeners or viewers. It should not be entertainment, which can come from other areas – music and drama on the radio, cartoons and crosswords in newspapers.
A good story must answer the five Ws: who, what, where, when and why. It must also have a good hook, and show readers what is significant about the story. It should also place the story in context – what has happened before and after it, for example.
If the news is about a robbery, for example, it should be told in such a way as to make the reader understand the underlying motivation of the robber, and how the crime was committed. The same is true for a political or social story. The most compelling news stories often involve conflict or tension – whether between two nations, between a group of people within a society, or between one individual and a large institution (such as the church).
In deciding what to publish, editors must keep in mind the needs and interests of their readers. People want to read about things that affect their daily lives, such as weather patterns or food shortages or gluts. They are also interested in things that happen in the world around them, such as a coup d’etat in the country next door or the death of a celebrity.
When deciding what to cover, news writers must balance the needs of their audience with the demands of the business. A journalist must also be aware that the news media are competing with other sources of information, such as radio and television broadcasts and websites. This competition influences the news agenda and may limit what is considered to be important enough to report.
Some events are not newsworthy, however. For instance, a man waking up, eating breakfast and going to work by bus does not make interesting reading. It only becomes a story when it is unusual or when the details are of significance.
The news industry is constantly evolving. Its shape changes as new technology is introduced, and its audience grows and shrinks. People who once only listened to network news on TV or got their local news from the newspaper now can get it from any number of sources, including Internet websites, Facebook, and YouTube. However, most news organizations share a common understanding of the characteristics that make a story newsworthy. These include timeliness, proximity and narrative, drama and consequence, and the concept of the “big picture”. The more of these characteristics a news story has, the more likely it is to be deemed interesting or worthy of attention.