News is an event or item of information which is broadcast, printed, published or otherwise disseminated to the public. It includes all forms of written, verbal or audio-visual media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasts, Internet websites, telegraph, telephone messages and public announcements.
People who are interested in receiving and spreading News will usually be referred to as journalists or news media personnel. However, it is becoming increasingly common for ordinary people to be involved in the production of News as well as the consumption of it. In the past, only trained professionals could work as a journalist or in the field of News, but today anyone can act as a supplier, reporter or gatekeeper.
There are several theories as to what constitutes News. For example, it is generally thought that whatever is unusual will make the headlines. The classic example is the dog that bites man – this would be considered newsworthy because it is an unusual event. However, it is also thought that what makes newsworthy will vary from society to society. For example, if it is usual in one culture to eat dogs then the story of a man eating a dog will probably not be considered newsworthy in another.
Similarly, people are interested in stories that have an element of drama or that involve a situation of consequence. For instance, the story of a plane crash which causes loss of life is much more likely to be newsworthy than a road traffic accident or burglary which does not. The newsworthiness of an event may also depend on how far away it is or how easily it can be related to the daily lives of ordinary people.
In addition to the above, people are often interested in the activities of famous or well-known people. This is particularly the case when those people are involved in scandal or have fallen from grace. People are also interested in stories relating to health, whether it is traditional remedies, medical research, diseases, hospitals and clinics, or diet and exercise. Finally, all societies are interested in sex and will tend to be fascinated by stories involving behaviour that goes beyond society’s generally accepted standards.
Once an event has been deemed to be newsworthy, the next step is to decide how it will be presented. The biggest, most dramatic news will get the top billing in a bulletin or on the front page of a newspaper; less important news will be given lesser coverage and placed later in the paper or in an inside section. In some cases, a story will not be reported at all.
As the number of different sources for News grows, it is worth trying to ensure that one does not become too dependent on any single source. It is good to read a wide variety of newspapers and also to watch or listen to a range of radio and television programs. In this way, it is possible to obtain a balanced view of the world.