News is information about current events. It is conveyed through a variety of media such as word of mouth, postal systems, printing presses, broadcasting and electronic communication. The content of news varies with culture and time, but certain basic characteristics are understood by everybody involved in the business of creating and disseminating news, whether they are journalists or people who consume it as audiences.
Objectivity, fairness and timeliness are the three cornerstones of good journalism. Objectivity means that news should be free from personal bias and that it should be reported without spin or distortion. Fairness is the requirement that all sides of an issue should be explored and presented fairly. Finally, timeliness requires that the story be reported immediately or very soon after the event takes place.
The earliest news sources were oral messages, but the advent of the printing press and other technology allowed for more efficient dissemination of news. News was originally distributed in newspapers but is now available on television, radio, the Internet and even mobile phones.
People are interested in news that relates to their daily lives, so stories that affect them personally are of particular interest. Weather, climate change and disasters all make the news as do politics, war, crime, economics, agriculture and food security, health and education.
Human interest, curiosity and the ability to empathise with other people are also important factors in what makes newsworthy. For example, stories that incorporate violence or scandal are very popular with readers as well as events that affect the rich and poor. Other newsworthy events are those that concern controversies, arguments, strikes, charges and countercharges, tension, and conflict.
People are also interested in events that occur in other countries, cultures and historical periods. For example, travel stories, international trade and espionage, foreign policy and world affairs, and sporting events are of interest to the public. The discovery of fossils and other ancient artefacts are also newsworthy as is the history of a place or time that has a strong cultural significance.
If a story is to be considered as “newsworthy”, it must satisfy the following criteria:
The news value of a story will be different in each society because each one will have its own interests, priorities and values. For instance, the relative importance of cows and pigs in a given society will determine which news items are of most interest when a barn collapses and kills both animals.
To help you decide what is newsworthy, read the headlines in your local newspaper or watch your local TV news program. If you are unsure about what is happening in the world, sign up for a news aggregator such as The Skimm or Today Explained. This will deliver to your inbox a brief overview of the most important stories of the day. This will save you the trouble of sifting through social feeds or websites to find what’s important. You can also follow positive news outlets that are dedicated to reporting only the good news, such as Good News Movement or Tank’s Good News.