News is information about events that have happened recently, and are important to the audience. It can be about people, places or things. Ideally, it should be objective and unbiased. News articles should not be slanted or include opinions, but rather give facts about the event. This is especially true in a business context where you are writing for your customers.
News varies by country and culture. What might be interesting and significant in one society may not be in another. However, there are some things that are always newsworthy. For example, a hurricane, earthquake or flood might be a story in all societies, and is therefore likely to be newsworthy. A coup d’etat is also probably newsworthy, although it might not have the same impact in two different countries.
Generally, the determining factor in whether an event is newsworthy is whether it is new. A story about an assassination of a famous person is not likely to be newsworthy, for instance, because it was not news at the time of the assassination. However, if some of the details about the assassination are revealed for the first time in tomorrow’s papers, then it could be newsworthy.
In order to make a story newsworthy, it must meet the five criteria that Harcup and O’Neill identified in their 2001 study: the presence of an identifiable person who is able to provide insight and authority; the presence of a significant event or development that has potential impact; the presence of an element of surprise, which might involve either the number involved or its significance; and relevance. It is worth noting that the level of original work on a subject by staff reporters in newspapers and television can vary enormously. For example, in our study of page-lead stories in three UK national newspapers during a sample month, only eight out of ten were originally written by staff reporters. The rest were edited and reproduced packages, usually from wire services.
Often, it is not the writer who makes a story newsworthy, but the sources who are interviewed for the article. It is therefore essential to be able to source the five Ws of a story: who, what, where, when and why. It is also vital to be able to understand the chronology of events, so that you can accurately report them.
It is also important to be able to write well and concisely, because readers have little patience for long tangents or winding sentences. A good tip is to try and think of the shortest word that will convey the meaning of the news you are reporting. Then cut out the filler that does not contribute to that result. Also, consider the audience for your article, as this can affect the amount of detail that is included. In general, it is best to place the most important news items above the fold, which refers to the crease in the newspaper page or on the website. This will ensure that they are visible to the majority of your audience, and that it is clear what the news item is.