News is information about events that are important, interesting or unusual. It includes a wide variety of subjects, from natural disasters to war and crime. News is reported by journalists, who try to be impartial, but inevitably are influenced by their own beliefs and attitudes. News is a source of identity, and helps to shape political and cultural narratives. It is important for citizens to become critical of news media and seek out alternative sources of information.
Journalists make judgments about what is and is not newsworthy all the time. Generally, they will be more interested in a story that is new, unusual, significant or about people. They will then decide how to present that story – whether it is headline news, on page one of the newspaper or in a bulletin, for example. Things that are not considered to be big enough to be newsworthy will be omitted, or given less coverage.
A good journalist will research their subject thoroughly, which can take a long time. This work will allow them to write an article that is well informed and accurate. It is also crucial to know their audience. They will consider the age of the audience, where they are located (local or national) and what they want out of their news. This knowledge will inform their writing, as they will aim to deliver the most important information first and ensure that it is clearly understood by their audience.
As with all forms of written text, the quality of an article depends on its organisation and structure. A news article should be presented in an inverted pyramid style, with the most important information placed at the top and the less important detail following underneath it. This format is ideal for online reading, where a user can skim the article to get an overview of the main points before clicking on the link to read more in depth.
When selecting and organising the information in their article, a journalist will also consider who their primary sources are. These could include government, business and think tank representatives, as well as ordinary people who are most affected by a particular issue. They may also interview commentators who are able to offer technical analysis of a topic.
While it is important for news writers to have an opinion on the issues they cover, it is equally as important to avoid expressing their views too strongly. This can lead to the impression that the journalist is taking sides or trying to influence the reader’s opinion.
Many news sites are perceived to have a bias towards either the right or left of the political spectrum, for example Fox News is widely believed to have a conservative leaning and CNN has a more centrist view. It is important for readers to recognise these biases and seek out alternative news sources if they wish to be truly informed about the world around them. A good way to do this is to use a news aggregator site, which collects articles from thousands of news websites worldwide and is often among the first to publish breaking stories.