News is any current event, information or happening that affects a significant number of people. The term is often used to refer to television news programmes, newspapers or radio, but it can also include events such as political crisis or social upheaval, natural disasters and even war. News often focuses on things that are important to the whole population, such as health and safety issues, global events or local affairs. It is also frequently about people – for example, when they are involved in crime or when they achieve something significant, such as winning an Olympic medal.
A news story is most interesting if it contains a dramatic element. This is usually achieved by telling a story about someone who wants something, overcomes obstacles to obtain it and then realises their goal. This can also be accomplished by showing an event that is unusual, surprising or out of the ordinary.
Another aspect of a news story that is attractive to readers is the fact that it has a consequence. This can be a good or bad thing, but it is more interesting to read about than an event that does not have any real effect. It is therefore important to ensure that a news story has an impact, and is not just a piece of titillation or celebrity gossip.
Most news stories are about people, but some are not. A significant proportion of the world’s weather is made by non-humans and is of interest to many people, for example, a cyclone, bush fire, drought or volcanic eruption. These are usually not considered to be newsworthy, but when they affect a large number of people and/or cause serious loss or damage it may become news.
Whether they are written by professionals or amateurs, most news articles are structured in a similar way. There is an intro that tells the reader what the article is about, followed by a hierarchy of information that builds up the story with details, explanation and quotes. This is called the ‘five Ws’ in journalism and helps to keep the reader engaged and informed throughout the story.
A crucial aspect of a news article is that it is up to date. Typically, the events that make it into the news are those that happen today or have just happened. This is why a re-run of last night’s TV news programme rarely makes the cut, except perhaps in the case of an anniversary of a major event.
A key aspect of a news article is that it should be written in a language that is easily understood by the average reader. It is also useful to remember that each medium presents a news story in a different way, for example, newspaper articles are written in printed words, television news reports use moving images and radio uses spoken word and other sounds. These differences mean that audiences get a slightly different persective or sense of what’s going on in the world, depending upon which medium they choose to consume their news from.