News is what happens in the world around us that affects our everyday lives. It is a very important part of our culture and we rely on it to make decisions every day. However, we have a difficult time distinguishing what is really news from the propaganda that is pushed on us by those who want to sell us something. We can learn to become our own news sources by learning to discern true news from fiction and by recognizing some basic characteristics of what is truly newsworthy.
Whether we read newspapers or magazines, watch TV or listen to radio and/or the Internet, what we call News is usually a story about an event that has recently happened or is the latest information about an event that has already happened. We get our News from all sorts of places including trained journalists, reporters and even amateur writers who write letters to the editor of their local newspaper or call their local news station with comments on a story they heard on the news. This is called journalism and trained professionals do their best to report the news in an objective, unbiased and non-partisan manner. However, because they are human beings bits of their own personal and professional biases invariably find their way into the stories that they write.
A common misconception about what makes for good News is that the most recent events always make for the best news. While it is true that the news is current, and that is one of the most important characteristics of News, there are many other factors involved in deciding what is newsworthy. Events that occur in our daily lives often don’t make the News because they are not unusual or dramatic. Missing the bus on your usual trip to school and having to walk to school does not make for very interesting or unusual News. On the other hand, if you were walking to school and came across a litter of baby tigers in a box and took them to an animal shelter and saved their lives-that would be very interesting and worthy of being News.
Another important characteristic of News is that it typically has a sense of drama and a clear sense of who are the good and bad characters in a situation. The robbery of a convenience store is an example of a dramatic event that is likely to make the News. The same is true of a story that shows someone saving a life from a fire or helping the homeless.
Other factors that influence what is considered to be News are Magnitude, Proximity and an element of Surprise. Stories that fall into these categories may be highlighted in a variety of ways including with photographs, an unfolding drama or simply a humorous treatment with entertaining photographs and/or witty headlines. The most Important factor in determining what is News is that it is relevant to the audience. News that is not relevant to the audience is usually not deemed to be of sufficient interest and will not get picked up or shared by the audience.