News is information about current events, such as legislative change, politics, local announcements, weather, scientific research, public health and the arts. The scope of news articles varies depending on the newspaper or magazine, but they are all expected to stay understandable for a wide audience and provide readers with enough facts to allow them to make informed opinions about what is going on in the world around them.
In the past, the main source of news was written by professional journalists who made decisions about what to publish and where to place it. These decisions were based on their own perceptions of what was important and interesting to people, as well as the ability to gather and collate information quickly and efficiently. Today, however, the Internet has changed the way news is selected and disseminated and audiences have become active participants in the process of selecting and sharing stories, contributing their own perspectives and influencing what is considered newsworthy.
A news article consists of a leading paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention and provides a brief overview of the story, followed by a body paragraph which outlines the facts about the topic. It is then topped off with a conclusion, often a restatement of the lede, and a statement about potential future developments that could occur relating to the subject of the article.
Some topics are considered to be ‘newsworthy’ because they are unusual, interesting or significant. Other factors, such as the impact of the story on the lives of the individuals involved and the degree to which it challenges existing beliefs or values, can also influence whether a particular event is reported.
Crime makes for interesting and significant news stories, whether it is a road traffic accident, break and enter or even a murder; although more serious crimes generally have more impact and therefore are more likely to be reported. The same is true for money news stories – fortunes made and lost, school fees, taxes, the Budget or compensation claims all make news.
In addition to these ‘newsworthy’ elements, the content of a news item can be enhanced by providing a new angle or perspective on an event or situation, for example, focusing on the human impact of a natural disaster, political crisis or economic downturn. A sense of urgency is often used to enhance the newsworthiness of an event by promoting the need for immediate action or reaction.
While it is not necessary to cite primary sources for every piece of news, it is important to identify where the information in an article came from. This can be done by direct quotes from a person involved in the event (such as “According to police reports, the suspect threatened the cashier with a gun”) or by indirect quotations (“The president said that he is considering plans to withdraw troops”). When writing about a scientific discovery, for example, it is usual to use citations to indicate the source of the data.