Many people are confident that they understand news, and most have strong opinions about which news sources to trust. But how much do they really know about the process of what makes news and why some stories make it into the newspapers, television news line-up or Internet sites while others fail to attract attention?
The news that appears in print, on TV or on the web is based on decisions made by individuals who work for a particular media organization. These individuals are sometimes called editors, journalists or news directors. They sift through recommendations from reporters and assistant editors and decide what is to be included in the news. They are also sometimes referred to as gatekeepers.
A newspaper or website will typically feature a variety of news categories, each geared toward a specific audience. While some demographics are obvious — such as a paper that covers events in Kansas City targeting residents of the area — other audiences are not as clearly defined. It is important to know your audience when writing a news article to ensure that it is both informative and engaging.
In the past, people got their news by reading newspaper articles and listening to radio broadcasts. Today, most of us get our information from the internet and social media. The most popular sites for receiving news are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These sites offer a wide range of news content, but they often include biased information that is designed to influence the way we think and act.
Generally, most people want to stay informed about the world around them. They find news to be useful, as it enables them to learn about weather forecasts, train timings and government policies. They are also interested in news that provides an entertaining or emotional experience.
Some of the characteristics of news that influence whether it is considered useful or interesting are timeliness, drama, magnitude and prominence. Timeliness refers to the importance of an event or its proximity to the reader. People are most interested in stories that occur near them, and they are less interested in events that have already occurred or may occur in the distant future. Drama refers to an element of conflict or suspense. Controversy and other things involving arguments, charges and counter-charges or fights are good examples of this category of news. Magnitude refers to the importance of an event or occurrence – either in terms of its potential impact on society or the number of people involved.
In addition to influencing our moods, news influences how we feel about the people and places featured in it. For example, when a story is about a celebrity, people will respond differently to it than they would if the story was about a politician or military leader. The emotional response to news can be very powerful, and it is important to understand this aspect of the news industry when creating your own news articles or working as a member of the media.