A news article is a piece of printed or broadcast information about a current event or incident. It explains what happened and why, in a way that is interesting to the reader or listener. News articles often focus on the five Ws (who, what, where, when and why) and try to be as accurate as possible. However, it is also important that a news story is engaging and well written. A good news article will make the reader want to read or watch more.
There are several different theories of what makes a story newsworthy. The Mirror Model suggests that news should reflect reality. The Bargaining Model suggests that politicians and public pressures influence what is reported. The Social Model suggests that people are interested in a wide range of topics, including celebrities, health, the economy, politics and fashion. The Reaction Model suggests that audiences influence journalists and the selection of stories.
Some people believe that the job of the media – newspapers, radio and television – is to entertain. However, it is widely agreed that the main role of news is to inform. Providing entertainment should be left to other areas of the media, such as music and drama on radio or TV, or cartoons and crosswords in newspapers.
Generally, only those events and incidents which affect a large number of people or which have a significant impact on society are considered to be newsworthy. Therefore, a coup d’etat in the country next door might be big news in your own newspaper but is unlikely to get much attention elsewhere. On the other hand, a fire which causes little harm or inconvenience might be very small news but could be extremely worrying for residents of the building involved.
In addition to the criteria outlined above, newsworthiness can be judged by whether it is surprising, unusual, entertaining or interesting. Obviously, all of these factors are at play in an article about a celebrity scandal or political crisis but they can also apply to less high profile events, such as animal rescues and the discovery of new medicines.
Similarly, when writing an article about a current event or incident, it is important to research the subject thoroughly. This includes gathering primary sources and secondary sources. A primary source is a person directly involved in the newsworthy event. For example, an interview with a firefighter who saved a cat from a burning house is a primary source. A secondary source is a piece of information collected from other sources, such as previous news reports about the same subject. Using primary and secondary sources will help to ensure that your news article is accurate, up-to-date and engaging. Ideally, you should present your audience with enough information that they can form their own opinion about the event or issue being discussed, even if it contrasts with your own. This is known as a fair and balanced report.