News is information about current events that is interesting and/or important to a wide audience. It is usually reported on by journalists, though it may also be written and published by ordinary citizens using websites and other forms of communication. Democracy depends on an informed citizenry, which in turn requires a free press.
What makes a story newsworthy varies between societies. A storm, flood or earthquake will be of interest to people living close to the site but might not be of concern to others far away. A person’s actions can also make the news, if they have an impact on other people, especially when those actions are significant. For example, a farmer’s decision to burn his crops might be newsworthy if it leads to food shortages in other areas. In addition, the way a story is presented can make it newsworthy. If it is told in an exciting, dramatic or humorous manner it will be more likely to capture a reader’s attention and stimulate discussion.
When choosing a topic for a news article it is helpful to consider the inverted pyramid structure, where key points are covered in the first paragraphs and the details follow on from these. It is also important to research the topic thoroughly so that you can write an accurate and complete report. It is a good idea to include quotes from sources who have an opinion on the topic; these can be experts, politicians or ordinary citizens.
The elements that make a newsworthy event are: Magnitude: Stories that are perceived as particularly significant either in the number of people affected or in their potential for impact. Proximity: The proximity of the event to people’s homes or workplaces. Controversy: Events that are the subject of public debate or which generate an emotional response. Prominence: Events involving famous people or those with a high public profile.
Human interest: Stories about famous people, their achievements and failures, their relationships and their personal lives. Animals: People are interested in wildlife and animals, and are also concerned about diseases that affect them or problems with farms and feeding places. Entertainment: People are interested in music, theatre and cinema, art exhibitions and carving. They are also interested in who is succeeding at sports and other games, and gossip about celebrities.
Writing for the news media requires speed and accuracy, as well as a focus on what is happening now. A week’s old news has little relevance and is unlikely to attract readers. In print newspapers, the most significant stories are placed above the fold. On the Internet, they are placed at the top of the page before readers have to scroll down to find other articles.
When writing a news article it is essential to use the correct name for the person being reported on. First names and initials are used for people who are not widely known, but a full name should be used when it is necessary to identify the individual. In the case of a celebrity, it is usual to use a middle initial unless there is a strong reason for not doing so.