News is information about events in the world and about people. It may be a factual report or an opinion piece. Its purpose is to inform, educate and inspire. It may also entertain. But it can only do so if the journalist is careful to present it with an eye to achieving these goals rather than using it as a vehicle for bias and propaganda.
News articles need to contain first hand information and be based on solid research. This should include research into the subject matter on a local, national and international scale. Often a reporter will interview individuals who have direct knowledge of the subject matter or who are in some way involved. This will often add depth and credibility to the news article. Generally, journalists will use what is known as the 5 Ws to help them structure their news stories: who, what, where, when and why.
Usually, the most important element of a news story is how it will affect people. It is this which should drive the headline and lead paragraph. A strong lead paragraph should catch the reader’s attention and keep it throughout the article. A good lead will be factual and brief, while capturing the reader’s interest and informing them of the key points and facts of the story.
It is also necessary to provide a context for the news story. This can be done by providing a background to the event or highlighting other aspects of the story which have relevance to it. This is particularly true if the news story involves a disaster, such as a flood or a fire. In such cases, the information can provide a valuable lifeline to those affected.
Another aspect of a news story is to reveal something unusual or surprising. This may be as simple as a man biting a dog, or it could be something more abstract. What is considered unusual or surprising will vary from society to society, though. If a wall collapses and kills a cow but not a pig, for example, it is unlikely to be newsworthy in most societies, although it would be in some.
Finally, it is important to include some entertainment in a news article. This could be in the form of music or drama on radio, cartoons or crossword puzzles in a newspaper or even humour in a news story itself. This will not only make the article more entertaining, but it will also remind readers or listeners of the value of journalism and why it is important to their lives. After all, it is through the free press that we can be informed and entertained; it is not through it that the world will change – but it can certainly help to illuminate it.