News is information about current events, activities and issues that happen around the world. It is the work of journalists to inform the public about these things and what they mean. This can be done in a variety of ways. It may be published in newspapers, magazines, radio or television, as well as online. It is important that the information is accurate and fair. Journalists use journalism ethics and standards to ensure this. These include verifying sources, double checking facts, and separating news from opinion or commentary.
A good news story catches the eye of a reader and holds it until the last word. It must be brief so that people will read it, clear and picturesque so that they can understand it, and above all, accurate so that it can be interpreted and used.
The importance of the event or incident which makes news will vary in different societies. For example, if a wall collapses on a farm killing both a cow and a pig, the event will be more significant in one society than in another where cows are more valuable than pigs. Similarly, some events are more interesting than others. If a man is robbed by a bank heist or if his house burns down, both are newsworthy events but the former will be more exciting to read about than the latter.
Some events make news because they are unusual or unexpected. The death of an animal, a celebrity scandal, the arrival of a foreign dignitary and natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes all fit into this category.
Other events make news because of the impact they have on people or the economy. If a new law or tax is introduced, it will affect the lives of many people. Equally, if a company announces it is going out of business this will be of interest to the general public. The same is true of a merger or takeover of a company which will have a direct effect on the stock market.
Finally, some events are of interest because they give us a glimpse of the future. For this reason, new developments in technology, science and medicine make good news stories. The invention of a new drug or the development of a new computer can be of great interest, as can satellite pictures of space and the launch of a space shuttle.
It is important for journalists to remember that the main purpose of news is to inform and educate their readers, listeners or viewers. Entertainment should come from other areas – music and drama on radio and TV, cartoons in newspapers and crosswords in magazines. If a piece of news is amusing it is worth including in the newspaper but it should not become the focus of the article. This can be achieved by using active phrases instead of passive ones – for example, ‘Dr Jones has been working on equipment to study malaria’ rather than ‘Malaria has been studied with this equipment’.