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1-1 What is News?

In the simplest terms, news is a report of someone's actions, or of an event, which has not been previously reported, and which interests or affects significant segments of the community or audience.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines news as:

  1. a report of recent events.
  2. material reported in a newspaper.
  3. matter that is newsworthy.

Webster's further defines newsworthy as: sufficiently interesting to the general public to warrant reporting.

News, then, has a timely value and it must be interesting to be of worth to the general public.  It must also have been previously unpublished.   Once published it is no longer news, but history.

Another concept which aspiring journalists must master is that the event or the person's action is not "the news."  An event may be newsworthy, but it doesn't become news until it is published.

How do journalists, civilian and military, evaluate an event for its newsworthiness?  Perhaps the best answer is the journalist concerns himself and his writing with the events and people in which his readers are interested.   The more people who are interested, and the more intense their interest becomes, the greater news value the event or the person.

The reporter is a gatekeeper of information for his readers.  Editors, therefore, require their reporters to include three factors in their reporting.

  • Authenticity and Accuracy

  • Good Taste

  • Mass Appeal

AUTHENTICITY AND ACCURACY -- No ethical reporter would fabricate a story, or make readers believe that something happened when it did not.  Additionally, reporters obtain their facts and information from the most credible sources available, thus increasing authenticity and accuracy.   Reporters ensure that their articles are meaningful and in agreement with reality.   Errors in fact, mistakes, might be made by the inexperienced reporter.   HOWEVER, THEY CAN'T BE TOLERATED.  Accuracy is an unrelenting requirement, not only because the reputation of the reporter and newspaper are at stake, but because the reader demands the right to believe what he reads.

GOOD TASTE -- Good reporters display courtesy, good taste and respect towards and on behalf of their audience through their writing.  The reporter's copy will avoid vulgarities and obscenities.  His reporting will be neither callous, nor hardened or obnoxious.  Professional reporters don't confuse complete, objective reporting with caustic or gory accounts of news events.

MASS APPEAL -- One of the basic facets of news is that it be or worth to significant segments of the audience.  Hass Appeal is comprised of 10 elements; sometimes referred to as the "Elements of News."


David L. Heiserman, Editor

Copyright   SweetHaven Publishing Services
All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015