News is the stuff which gets printed or broadcast in newspapers, magazines, radio and television. It includes reports of events, such as accidents, disasters, murders and natural calamities, and also of activities and achievements which are of interest to the general public. It is the job of these media to inform and educate their audiences, not to entertain them. Entertainment comes from other sources – music and drama on the radio, cartoons and crosswords in newspapers and magazines.
There are some basic characteristics of news which are understood by everyone who works in the media and everyone who reads the news as a part of their daily life. These include timeliness, drama, consequence, proximity and narrative.
Timeliness means that the event being reported must be current, not something which happened 10 years ago or last year (unless it is a story about an anniversary of a major historic event). It is important for readers to be able to relate to what they are reading and watching.
Stories are of most interest when they are about people. This is because we are all interested in what other people are doing and how they are affecting their lives. We are also interested in what other people think about the events which affect them and how these views are formed.
Drama is created when an event has a strong emotional impact upon the reader, such as fear or sadness. It can also be caused by a very unusual or unexpected event, such as an earthquake or an accident. People are also fascinated by the achievements of others and by those who achieve success against great odds. This is why a sports hero’s victory, for example, makes such good news.
A good news article contains the main facts of the event in the first paragraph, which is why journalists are taught to use what is known as an inverted pyramid. This means that the key facts are placed at the top of the article, so that anyone who only reads the headline will still have a good idea of what has occurred. Then, as you continue to write your story, you should add more and more detail. This information might be contact details, additional facts about the topic or people involved, quotes from interviews or any other details which will help to round out your news article and make it more interesting for the reader.