The purpose of news media – newspapers, magazines, radio and television – is to inform and educate their readers, listeners or viewers. They may also entertain, but that should come from other sources – music and drama on radio; cartoons and crossword puzzles in newspapers.
A news article must be accurate and up to date. This means that the story must have been either written or broadcast in the last few days or weeks. It is not good enough to write a story about something that happened a week ago; the community has already moved on to talking about something else.
What makes news is a story that affects a large number of people or that has an unusual or spectacular nature. It is generally about human beings and the things they do; although non-human events can be newsworthy too, such as a flood, an earthquake or a fire.
Stories about war, politics and government, education, health, the economy, business, fashion, entertainment and sport are very common. They can be of major significance for society or they can be of a minor, local interest. Government proclamations, concerning royal ceremonies, laws, taxes and public health, are often labelled as news.
The biggest part of a news story is the headline, and this is where a lot of creativity can be used. A catchy, emotive or intriguing headline is the best way to get a reader’s attention. Once they have read the headline, the article should start with the most important information at the top of the page – this is called “above the fold”.
If you are writing a news article for print publication or for broadcast on the radio or television then it is very helpful to know your audience well. This will dictate the voice and tone of your story and help you decide what to include. It is a good idea to have someone else read the article before submitting it for publication; they will be able to spot spelling or grammatical mistakes that you might have overlooked.
Once a newspaper, magazine or broadcaster has gained a reputation for producing quality, trustworthy and reliable news articles then readers will begin to trust that the content they are reading is factual. This is especially true when it comes to online news; it can be difficult for consumers to verify the accuracy of every piece of online news that they read, so they will choose the first one that appears in search results and assume it to be correct. The more trustworthy a website is, the higher it will rank in search results and the more visitors it will receive. This is why it is so important to take the time and effort to produce high-quality news articles. It will pay off in the long run.