The Nature of News


News is information about current events. It is disseminated to the public by journalists using a variety of media, including word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting and electronic communication. Its purpose is to inform and educate citizens about events in their locality, nation and the world. Democracies depend on a informed citizenry to function, so there is a strong incentive for journalists to provide impartial and accurate reports.

The nature of a news story depends on the type of news it is; however, all news stories have the same basic structure. Usually, it will have a headline, a lead and byline. The headline should be a catchy and concise summary of the story. It should follow AP style guidelines unless the publication specifies otherwise. The lead is the opening paragraph of a news article, which provides a preview of what will be reported in the rest of the story. It includes many of the most important facts of the story. The byline is the name of the writer.

A newspaper is a source of information that covers a wide range of topics, from politics to crime to culture to sports. It may also contain articles on the arts, education, science and technology, food, travel and the weather.

National newspapers generally report on international events that affect the entire population, as well as local and regional events. They also contain features and columns that give advice on relationships, money, the workplace and other issues of interest to the general reader.

Most of the time, a news story will be about people – what they do, say or how they behave. A road traffic accident, a burglary, a murder or a plane crash will all make the news, as will famous people, such as politicians, sports stars and actors. Celebrities who fall from grace, lose their fame or become the subject of a scandal will also be newsworthy.

Non-human events, such as cyclones, droughts, bush fires or earthquakes, can also be newsworthy. So too can the effects of climate change on the environment.

Whether something is newsworthy or not, is also down to journalistic judgment. A theory of news values put forward by Galtung and Ruge suggests that a combination of factors determines what is considered to be a good news story, for example:

While research into this area has expanded since Galtung and Ruge’s original work, it remains difficult to identify exactly which factors influence the selection of news for publication. It is possible that the desire to get a story widely shared on social media can have a direct impact on journalistic decisions, for example (Olmstead and Mitchell, 2013; Tien Vu, 2014). Further empirical studies are needed to examine this and other potential influences.