The news – in newspapers, magazines, radio and television – is meant to inform and educate its readers, listeners or viewers. If it also entertains, that is an extra bonus. Entertainment can come from other sources – music and drama programs on the radio or cartoons, crosswords and so forth in a newspaper. If the news has a human interest element, that is, if it is about people or their personal lives, it will usually be entertaining as well.
A good news story must be new, unusual, interesting and significant. It should contain facts and figures to add validity and actuality to the article. These facts must be checked, however, for accuracy. A story which satisfies only four of these criteria is not very important, but if it is all five, it will be very big news indeed. The importance of a news item is even more important when it occurs outside one’s own country, because it may have an effect on foreign policy or the stability of a nation.
As the amount of breaking news grows daily and dubious news outlets proliferate, every citizen must find a strategy for staying informed. Choosing a few relatively unbiased news sources is a start. These should be complemented by reading opinionated news from blogs, and the opinions section of a newspaper or magazine. This will help a reader to develop his own views on a subject and keep him interested in the news.
Crime: Any kind of crime makes the news if it is sensational, or if it involves a major figure or is very serious. Similarly, natural disasters are always big news. People are always interested in the lives of other people – whether this is due to voyeuristic tendencies, or simply because of their curiosity about what goes on in the lives of others. This is why human interest stories make the news.
Food and drink: We are all interested in eating and drinking, so stories about food shortages, gluts, famines and the like are of interest. Likewise, stories about celebrity chefs and restaurants are of interest as are the prices of food and drinks in the markets and supermarkets.
Technology: The development of new machines, devices and gadgets that will make our life easier or more enjoyable is always newsworthy. This is especially the case if these developments are made in other countries and have a potential to be widely adopted in the future.
Almost anything else can be reported as news, but it must be carefully evaluated to determine its significance. A coup d’etat in the next country over, for example, is very big news, but a local council decision about a building project will not have as much impact. It is also important to remember that a lot of the news that is reported in the media has been reported before. This is why it is essential to continually check for new information, even if it is just to confirm old news items.