News is information about current events that is communicated through newspapers, magazines, radio and television. It can also be transmitted through word of mouth and the postal system. News is intended to inform, educate and entertain its audience. It must be presented clearly so that readers can understand it and be guided by its light. It must be interesting so that it will appeal to the senses of the reader and engross them, picturesquely so that they can admire it and above all, it must be accurate so that readers can trust its light.
A good news story will have a headline that is catchy and to the point. It will also include the date and time of the event in question. The byline will be the name of the writer and should be written out, not abbreviated, unless your publication specifies otherwise. The lead will provide a preview of the article for the reader, and it is a good idea to write this last – or at least make sure that all of the most important facts are included in this paragraph.
An important element of any piece of news is that it should be new. Events which have occurred before cannot be news, even if they are unusual or significant. For example, the death of a famous person is not news when it has been reported before in print or on television. However, if the exact details of that death are revealed for the first time then it becomes news.
People are interested in things that affect them personally. For this reason, it is often the case that people are moved by stories of personal tragedy and triumph. Crime is an important news item and any type of crime may be the subject of a news story, but more serious crimes and those that happen to prominent people are usually given greater prominence. Weather is another area of interest to the public, and any unusual events or extremes are likely to be newsworthy.
In addition to the personal and social areas of interest, there are also stories which affect the economy and other areas of public life. These might involve money, politics or the environment. They are more likely to be reported if they involve corruption, forgery or bribery, are violent or have tragic consequences.
An important part of the job of a journalist is to be able to judge which stories are most newsworthy. While market research helps to determine what sort of information is of interest to the general public, it does not dictate what should be newsworthy. Journalists therefore have a large degree of autonomy in deciding what to publish. This allows them to provide the public with a broad range of opinions and viewpoints on the events which they consider are of significance. This helps them to fulfil the role of the fourth estate in a democracy. This is why the freedom of the press is such a precious commodity.