News are events in the lives of people that are of interest to those who read, listen to or watch them. These events may occur in the world, in politics or business, in education, health, the environment or entertainment, or in the home or community. It is generally accepted that the main function of news is to inform and educate, although it can also entertain. News is usually delivered through newspapers, magazines, radio and television but can also be found on the internet.
What makes a story newsworthy is subjective and different in each society. For example, a girl going to university or a man marrying a young woman are important events in most societies but they would not necessarily be newsworthy in another. The same is true of things like a cow or pig being killed by a car; which event will be considered more significant by a particular audience?
In order to write an effective news article it is important to know your audience. In most cases this will be a particular demographic, such as people who live in a certain area or those interested in a specific subject matter. The demographic may be further narrowed down by the type of news item being written. For example, if an article is about new zoning laws in a commercial area then the demographic will be business owners and property managers.
The elements of newsworthiness are: prominence, impact, violence and scandal, familiarity and locality, timing and significance. News items can also be classified according to their magnitude, which refers to how big or important the event is and its potential impact on the community. Other criteria for newsworthiness include novelty, curiosity, surprise, the number of people involved, the ‘badness’ or ‘goodness’ of the event and its relevance.
There are many other factors that influence the nature and contents of news, but these are some of the most common:
People: Events involving people make good news – they are of interest to the audience – as are the things they do. Celebrities and politicians are of particular interest. Other people – animals, plants and other non-humans – can be newsworthy too, but only if they affect human life. Weather: High or low temperatures, storms and droughts are all newsworthy, as are floods, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Food: What the rich and poor eat, drink and wear makes news, as does shortages, gluts and price rises.
The information in a news article must be accurate and reliable, with sources credited and their details verified. It should be presented without bias and the writer’s opinion should not be evident. An in-depth news piece is similar to straight reporting but takes a smaller subject and researches it heavily, often including interviews with those involved. The use of a full first name and both initials is recommended, to avoid confusion, particularly when using a person’s nickname. Middle names are only used if they are important to the story.