News is information about events, people and places that have recently changed or occurred. It has been called the oxygen of democracy because democracies can only survive if they have an informed citizenry. News is a form of information that is conveyed through a variety of media, including newspapers, radio, television and the internet. News is often accompanied by graphics, photos or video and may be delivered verbally or in written words.
When deciding what is newsworthy, journalists consider several factors. These include:
Exclusivity: Stories generated by or made available first to the news organisation, such as letters, interviews, investigations, surveys and polls.
Impact: The degree to which the event affects many people or a broad segment of the population. This factor can be measured by the number of lives affected, the extent to which an event causes public anxiety or concern and its political significance.
Proximity: The extent to which an event occurs close to home. This factor is important in breaking stories about local events and also to make a story feel more personal.
Unusual: An unusual occurrence is often a good news story. This could be something like an earthquake, hurricane or bush fire.
Significant: The extent to which an event is regarded as important by the community or by the news organisation. This can be measured by its magnitude or its potential for controversy and conflict.
People: Almost all societies are interested in stories about people. This can be because of their celebrity, the lives they lead, how they look or the way they behave. Stories about famous or well-known people are usually of particular interest, especially when they fall from grace, become involved in scandals or die.
When writing a news article, the writer begins by researching the subject thoroughly. It is vital to get all the key facts of a story right, so it is advisable to use a news editor or an editorial team to check and verify the information. Once the research is complete, an outline of the article can be made. Following the upside down pyramid format, this should contain the most important facts of the story at the top, with the least important information placed at the bottom of the outline. This ensures that readers who skip the story’s introduction still receive the gist of the news story. The final step is to write the news story, using the headline and a summary of the key points in the body of the article. This is then edited and proofread before it is published. The process can take place on a daily, weekly, monthly or fortnightly basis, depending on the newspaper or other publication concerned. The writer is credited for their work in the form of a byline.