News is information about the world that is interesting, significant or unusual and that will affect your readers, listeners or viewers. It should be put before them briefly so that they will read it, clearly so that they will appreciate it and picturesquely so that they will remember it. It is not the job of news to entertain – that can be done through music and drama on television and radio, and through crosswords and cartoons in newspapers, but it is the job of news to inform and educate.
People are interested in how things happen, what happens to them and how other people’s lives are affected. It is important to keep up with international affairs – and to have a solid understanding of ongoing issues and debates on the governmental, regional and local levels. This is essential because you will have to be able to identify and pick up on new developments as soon as they happen.
The human element is the most interesting aspect of a news story. Most people are not interested in how a bug is killing their crops, but they will be interested in the effect this bug is having on their food supplies. People are also interested in what other people think about a topic, and will often be more convinced by the views of someone who is well known or respected than by the opinions of an ordinary person. This is why it is important to have a wide variety of sources for your news stories.
Exclusivity – or first-time coverage of events that are not already public knowledge – is a factor in how news is reported, particularly when it is given to the news media by police and government officials. However, the importance of exclusivity is declining as many people are now able to access the same information from different news outlets on their computers and mobile phones.
In-depth news pieces take a smaller subject and research it heavily. They can be about individual incidents such as a fire, or they may investigate a bigger theme such as the impact of poverty on health in a particular country. These stories can be difficult to write and require a degree of technical expertise. They also need to be written without bias – the writer should try to see the world as others do, and not make assumptions about what will interest their audience.
It is worth pointing out that there are some situations where it will not be possible to avoid bias – for example, when the information comes directly from a source. In this case, it is often the nature of the words used that imposes bias. For instance, medical experts are likely to use jargon which excludes those who are not familiar with the field, and this can make an in-depth news piece inaccessible to a general readership.
Sources of information for news articles are usually drawn from a variety of sources – including interviews with witnesses, documents and official statistics. All of these should be attributed and it is good practice to name the person being quoted as the source. It is also helpful to include a link to the original source in case readers want to know more about the issue.