News is the current, up to date information that people read in newspapers or magazines, watch on TV and listen to on radio. It is also something that many people access via the Internet on their personal electronic devices. As such, the way that news is delivered has changed dramatically since its earliest days.
There are a number of criteria that are used to determine whether or not a piece of news will be considered worthy of being published in a newspaper or magazine. These criteria include: newness, unusualness, interest, significance and people. A good news article will contain all of these elements, but the most important is probably its timeliness. News is not about something that happened 10 years ago, or even last week unless it is an anniversary of something significant that has already occurred (like the moon landing or the 9-11 attacks).
The first item to be decided upon is the topic of the story. This should be as relevant and interesting to the newspaper’s readership as possible, but not so controversial that it will rile up readers and cause them to avoid the article or turn off their TVs and radios.
Once the topic is determined, it is time to start gathering information. This may involve going out to interview sources and/or doing research. It is helpful if you have a list of questions that you are prepared to ask when doing interviews with sources. This will help keep the conversation on track and will allow you to cover the information that you think is most important.
One of the most important things to remember when writing a news article is to know who you are writing for. Although a general audience is usually the target of most newspaper and magazine articles, this can be narrowed down by location if necessary. It is also important to consider what you are trying to accomplish by writing the article. Is the goal to inform, or to entertain? If the latter, this is best achieved by other means – music and drama programs on television and radio; crossword puzzles and cartoons in newspapers.
Crime is often a topic for news stories as it affects most people in some way. Road traffic offences, burglaries, robberies, murders and kidnappings all make for exciting news stories. Money stories are also of interest to newspaper readers. These can be as simple as a fortune made or lost, to as complicated as salary rises, school fees, taxes and the budget. Food and drink is another issue that makes the news – from shortages to gluts, crop diseases and food prices. Entertainment news is also of interest to many people – stories about music, theatre and cinema make for great reading. As do weather reports and sporting events. This is where the ‘people’ element of news comes in, with quotes from coaches, players and fans all being a part of a well written news story.