News is information about a change in the world around us. It keeps democracy functioning by allowing citizens to participate in its governance. A free press is the oxygen of democracy and journalists are its lungs.
There are many different opinions on what news is – some clear and reasonable, others deeply cynical. One way to understand the nature of News is to study how it is selected and presented in your newspaper. This is an exercise that can help you learn more about journalism and the values and interests of your audience.
The News Manual defines News as ‘facts, events and developments arising in the course of everyday life that are reported and analysed to inform and educate people about current affairs’. Events that are new can be reported as News, but they also need to be interesting, significant and about people.
In this training module you can find out more about what makes a story newsworthy by studying a detailed account of the development of six major stories in a city’s newspapers over the course of a week. The narratives show how each story was initiated, led and shaped by the political and commercial pressures in the news media system.
Some factors that make a story newsworthy are impact, proximity and controversy. Others include the presence of a well-known person or a celebrity, currency and surprise. It is important that a news story provides enough facts so that the reader can form an opinion on it – but he or she should not be told what to think.