News is a means of communicating current events, information and stories to the public. It plays a vital role in society by providing transparency and encouraging democratic participation. News can be disseminated through various media channels including print, broadcast and online. It is important for news to be accurate, fair and objective. News should also be presented in a way that is interesting and engaging to the audience.
People have been producing and distributing news for millennia, with oral tradition and written records making it easier to record and transmit. The development of the printing press, telegraph, radio and television have all revolutionised the way in which news is produced and distributed.
In modern times, the internet has become an integral part of the way in which news is consumed and accessed. Online news can be found in a variety of formats, from blogs and social media to mainstream websites and search engines. Whether news is being read on paper, screen or mobile phone, it is essential that it is accurate, objective and engaging to the reader.
While some news may seem to be the same across all media, there are a number of basic characteristics that are understood by everyone who works in the news industry or consumes it as an audience. These include timeliness, drama, consequence, proximity and narrative.
Timeliness is perhaps the most obvious characteristic of news. It is what makes it newsworthy, after all, if it happened yesterday or even last year it’s not worth reporting (unless it’s an anniversary of something big that occurred). The idea is to catch the attention of the audience by telling them about something new, interesting and significant.
The next characteristic of news is drama. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it is an important element of what makes newsworthy. It is what draws the audience in and causes them to want to keep reading, watching or listening. News can be dramatic in a positive or negative way, although it is important to not report sensationalism for its own sake.
A third characteristic of news is consequence. This is the direct impact that an event or story has on the lives of the audience. It could be anything from an increase in crime or the price of food to a political crisis or natural disaster. It is the impact that a piece of news has on the viewer’s life that makes it newsworthy.
Proximity is the final attribute of news that can be defined as an ability to reach the audience in a short space of time. This can be achieved by ensuring that the first paragraph of a news article contains all of the key elements of the story (who, what, where, when, why and how), with subsequent paragraphs adding more detail. This is called the inverted pyramid technique and it is an important principle that journalists are taught at journalism school. This approach is also used by broadcasters and television shows when they present news bulletins.