News is information about current events. People get this information through a variety of sources: word of mouth, printed media, television and radio. Most people have a favorite type of news source that they turn to most often. Some people even have specific newspapers they read or broadcasts they listen to every day. The reason most people have a favorite news source is because each medium appeals to different aspects of the human mind: newspapers appeal more to logic and reasoning, while television and radio appeal more to emotion.
When deciding what makes news, editors look for events that are unusual, interesting, significant or about people. The classic definition of news is “dog bites man” but this is not a universal rule. In some societies dogs are eaten so it will not be news there that a man bites a dog.
Another key aspect of news is that it has to be new. If something happened yesterday or last year it cannot be news. Likewise, an event that has been reported on before can be old news if no additional information is released.
A third aspect is drama. It is hard to write a boring news article and it is important to keep the audience’s attention from the beginning of the story to the end. To do this editors need to create a hook at the very beginning of the article that will draw the reader in and keep them engaged throughout the whole piece.
For example, a story about an Olympic athlete is always newsworthy because it tells of someone who wants something very badly and goes to great lengths to achieve it. This provides the audience with a lot of drama and is a major draw to continue reading or watching.
Other elements to consider in a news article are timeliness, which means that the story is relevant now and not some time in the past; and importance, which relates to the impact of an event on the public. Whether or not a story is newsworthy depends on all of these factors and more.
Those who work in the field of journalism will understand how all these pieces fit together to make up what we know as news. The rest of us, however, may not have a good understanding of how news is generated and what makes an event newsworthy.
The next time you are writing a news story ask yourself the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when and why. Answering these questions will help you decide what is most newsworthy and how best to present it to your audience. Knowing your audience will also dictate the tone and voice of the article and how you format it. A good newspaper will be able to serve its audience in the most effective way possible, which means that it will meet their needs and interests. Ultimately, this will make for a better reading experience for everyone involved. It is the goal of a news story to inform, entertain and educate its audience.