News is information about a recent event or change that has a significant impact on people or the environment. It is the most important part of a newspaper or broadcast, often taking up most of the space and airtime. It keeps people informed about their local communities, countries and the world, giving them a better understanding of politics, science, economics, culture and more. News also provides entertainment, allowing people to keep up with celebrities and get their daily dose of humour.
What makes news? A number of different factors influence what happens to become news. It could be that a certain topic or person is famous, has an unusual appearance or is associated with a particular place. Other important criteria are proximity, conflict, controversy and the impact of the story on a wide range of people.
Whether or not the story is actually new is another important factor. For something to be news it has to have a new angle or be presented in a way that is not previously known. For example, an insect that eats crops is not normally newsworthy, but if that bug turns out to be a plague which will affect the food supply, then it becomes a major news item.
It is also necessary for a news story to be significant. If it is just another report of the same thing that has happened before, then it is not likely to be reported. However, an old news item can be made interesting if it is reported in a unique way or if there is some additional information. For example, an old war where a certain country was defeated could be made more exciting by the use of new photographs or by a detailed account of the battle which had not been previously told.
People also want to feel a connection to the news they are reading or listening to. For this reason, stories with a personal element or which involve the emotions are more likely to be newsworthy. They may be about a tragedy, conflict or an unexpected triumph. A personal touch such as an interview with a person who has been affected or involved in the story can help readers understand and relate to the topic.
In addition, a good news article should provide enough information for readers to form their own opinions about the topic. This can be done by stating the facts clearly, giving both sides of the argument and providing a concluding paragraph that restates the leading statement of the article.
The main function of news is to inform and educate its audience. It should entertain, but this can be achieved by other means such as music and drama on radio or television and cartoons and crossword puzzles in newspapers. News is most effective when it is brief so that it can be read, clear so that it can be understood and picturesque so that it is remembered. It is often referred to as the oxygen of democracy, because a democratic system depends on an informed citizenry.