In its simplest form, News is information about current events. This is communicated in many ways, including word of mouth, printed letters and postcards, printing presses, telegraph systems, radio and television, and electronic communication. The news can also be based on the testimony of witnesses to events.
Some events are significant enough to be newsworthy even though they occur every day. These are usually described as unusual or sensational. A man waking up, eating breakfast and taking the bus to work might be an example of this. Others might be less interesting, but still newsworthy, such as a man who is 90 years old, or a car killing a chicken or a pig. What is newsworthy will vary from society to society.
Other things that make news are those that have a direct impact on human life or human welfare. These include weather conditions, food shortages or gluts, crop diseases, prices in markets and new inventions. The lives of people in the richer parts of the world are also of interest, such as their entertainment – music and drama, paintings, theatre or carving.
The purpose of news media – newspapers, magazines, radio and television – is to inform their readers, listeners or viewers. It is not the purpose of these outlets to entertain, although some of them do provide amusement – radio and television quiz shows; crosswords and puzzles in newspapers. Entertainment should come from other sources, such as music, comedy or drama, and should not be dependent on the news media.
When writing an article for the news media, it is important to focus on the main points of a story and to write them clearly. This is especially true when writing for a newspaper or magazine, where the top stories are written above “the fold” – that is, on the part of the page that is seen before one has to turn it over. Likewise, when writing for the web it is important to put the most important facts at the top of the article.
Veteran journalists use all their senses when reporting on an event, listening for telling snippets of conversation and dialogue, watching for images that help convey the scene and feeling, and looking for details to give character and place. However, description for its own sake can clutter and obscure the news and should be used sparingly. Developing the ability to identify, background and interview sources for a news story takes practice. In addition to the basic rules of grammar and language, a news writer must master the skills of organizing and writing a brief paragraph under deadline pressure. The most experienced reporters develop a pyramid “bucket” system for their notes, where the most important information is placed at the top of the pyramid and less important information goes downwards. Using this system helps them to write an article that is clear and concise. The goal is to provide the public with unbiased news that is easy to read and understand.