News is an item of information or an announcement that a newspaper prints in order to keep its readers informed about current events. News is usually written about people, places or things that happen in the world and affects its readers in one way or the other. The news that a newspaper prints is primarily dependent on the interests and needs of its readers. It should be brief so that it is easily digestible, clear to make it easy for the reader to understand and picturesquely presented so that it can be remembered. It should also be accurate and should not contain any personal bias.
A news article may be printed in the form of an editorial, feature, spot or a summary. An editorial is an opinion piece that does not necessarily reflect the view of the whole publication. It may be about the views of the author or about a particular aspect of the news that is worthy of attention. A feature is a more detailed article and is usually written on the basis of research.
A spot is a short story that appears as a headline and is essentially a quick rundown of the news of the day. It should be brief, clearly written and contain a catchy title. Spot stories often appear in daily newspapers, but can be found on websites as well.
An in-depth piece is similar to a straight news report but takes a narrower subject and researches it extensively. For example, a fire at a house could be the subject of an in-depth piece if it affected many people or was unusual.
When writing a news story, a journalist should keep in mind that the event or happening must be new, unusual, interesting and significant. The event should also be important to the public. Lastly, the event should involve a number of people or be associated with prominent persons. This would attract the audience’s attention and make it more relevant.
Other criteria which can be used to determine if an event is newsworthy include:
Emotion: Whether or not the topic arouses emotional responses in the reader. People love to empathise with others, and so stories which touch the heart make good news. Proximity: People are interested in news which happens close to them.
Controversy: People are fascinated by controversies, arguments, charges and counter-charges, fights and tension. Prominence: People love to read about the lives of famous persons.
A free press is a vital part of any democracy. Without a free media, citizens cannot be fully informed about what is happening in their country or abroad. However, a free press can also lead to the distortion of the truth. It is therefore imperative for journalists to maintain a balance and be objective. They must strive to give equal prominence to all sides and not skew their reporting in favour of any one political or religious viewpoint. This is what makes journalism ethical.