What Is News?

News is information about current events, usually reported in a newspaper or broadcast on television and radio. It can also refer to any event that is new or noteworthy and might interest the public, such as a celebrity’s death, a scientific breakthrough or a political scandal. News is often presented in the form of a report, though opinion columns, advice columns and weather forecasts are also common elements of a newspaper.

There are many different theories of what makes a story newsworthy. Some are based on a classic line from the Bible, “Dog bites man – news.” Others are based on the concept of surprise or contrast. It might be that something is just plain unusual, such as a man walking on water. Then there are societal considerations; what might be newsworthy in one society may not be in another.

Regardless of the type of news, it is generally considered to be appropriate for writers to keep their personal opinions out of the story. This is known as objectivity. While there are exceptions, the majority of journalistic work is unbiased and seeks to present all sides of an issue without bias. Several governments impose certain constraints on news reporting to ensure this objectiveness.

In addition to the written word, the Internet has become an important means for news dissemination. It is relatively easy for a government to shut down newspapers, radio or television stations; but it can be much harder to control the spread of information through mobile devices. This has given rise to citizen journalists, who may report on breaking news stories from the field or share their own perspectives on current events.

The ubiquity of the Internet has also made it easier to access international news sources, including many that would not have been possible in the past. Whether they are state-owned channels like Iran’s Press TV or ad hoc networks like Qatar’s Al Jazeera, these global outlets offer news in multiple languages and reach an audience of billions.

A snapshot of a typical week in the news might include stories about police shootings, a state budget crisis, swine flu, a big international soccer game and a mix of fires, accidents and traffic problems. There are local news aggregators who pull this mix together for online audiences.

Using these resources, students can find the latest news about their cities and towns and compare it to that of other places around the world. They can then think critically about what it is that makes the news and who shapes the news in their city or town. They might even be able to create their own news website! This is a great way to encourage them to be informed citizens. It is a skill that will serve them for the rest of their lives. In this way, they will be better prepared to deal with the ever-changing world around them.