What Is News?


News is a report about current events, often including an investigation, a feature or a documentary. It is written to inform and educate readers about a variety of topics and has been the mainstay of newspapers, radio and television since ancient times. The most common subject of news is war, politics and the government but it can also include religion, crime, business, education, technology, fashion and entertainment. News is also used to report on natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Most of what makes news is about people, as much about the things they do as the things they say. This is why most news stories contain some element of conflict: the death or injury of a person, a split in an organization, a controversy or a disagreement. It is human nature to be interested in these types of events and so they make the most frequent and compelling subject of news.

The nature of the information that is considered news depends on the culture and society in which it occurs. What may be important or significant in one society is not necessarily interesting or significant in another. For example, an insect infestation of crops in Mexico may be a serious problem for the locals but is not necessarily newsworthy for an audience in Europe.

Some news stories are purely factual while others are investigative or based on the opinions of an individual. A story about a new drug that is believed to be addictive and potentially dangerous is a newsworthy event as it could impact a large number of individuals.

A good news article begins with a headline that is short and to the point. It should give a preview of what the article will cover and should be written according to Associated Press style guidelines unless a publication specifies something different. The next section is a lead that includes many of the major facts in the news story. A byline follows, identifying who wrote the article and if possible, giving the author’s credentials.

Once the chief editor has approved a selection of articles, they are laid out on dummy (trial) pages and then published in accordance with the frequency of the publication: daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly.

While most people are able to get their news from TV, radio and newspaper reports, there is a growing population of specialized online outlets that focus on a particular geographic area or topic. These sites are often a mix of traditional news organizations and independent, citizen journalists. They can be very helpful when it comes to providing local and community information but they must work hard to compete with the larger, more established media. This can be difficult in places with high levels of poverty, violence or lack of infrastructure. In addition, they must contend with local news aggregators that combine the output from these smaller, specialized sources into a single online destination. This has the effect of competing with and diluting their market share.