News is information about a recently changed situation or an event. It is reported in newspapers, magazines, radio and television. News is important to people because it tells them what is happening in the world around them. It also helps them to understand why things happen and how other people feel about them. News is usually written by professional journalists. This means that it is more likely to be factual and accurate than the information in other sources, such as books and websites.
News has different levels of interest in different societies. For example, the death of a famous person will be big news in rich countries but may not be noticed at all in poorer nations. A coup d’etat in one country will be big news but a riot in another may not be at all interesting. The strength of the news value of an event depends on how many of the following five criteria it meets:
Unusual events are usually the basis for news stories, but even unusual things can fail to be considered as newsworthy. For instance, if scientists report that an insect has been found living on a new plant which it did not previously inhabit this would only be newsworthy in a specialist magazine or newspaper. It would not make the front page of the general newspaper or broadcasting network.
If an event is important, it might be newsworthy even if the details are not very detailed. For example, a plane crash in which no-one was hurt but many valuable items were destroyed might still be newsworthy if it were the only such accident in a hundred years. However, if an airplane crash involves hundreds of deaths and is one of the worst disasters in history it would be very newsworthy.
There are some things which are always newsworthy – for example, wars, murders, political scandals and natural disasters. It is important to remember, though, that there are many other things which could be described as newsworthy if they happened in the right place or at the right time.
If you want to keep up with the news but do not have enough time to read a lot of newspapers, you can choose to get a daily summary email or watch a short news bulletin on your television or computer screen. Alternatively, you can follow a blog which concentrates on news or listen to radio and television news programmes which specialise in reporting the latest developments. These sources can also provide historical perspectives on current events. These blogs and radio and television news programmes are often critical of their own governments, but they can also give an impartial account of what is happening in other parts of the world. This is known as ‘balanced reporting’. A good example of this is the state-run Al Jazeera. It is a major source of news for millions of people in the Middle East and beyond. It has been criticised for being biased in favour of the Muslim world but it has also been praised for providing independent coverage which is not swayed by commercial interests or government pressures.