News is the information that is reported about events or situations that affect people. It can be about war, government, politics, education, health, religion and the environment, but it also covers social issues such as the treatment of indigenous people or the behaviour of celebrities.
All societies are interested in the lives of famous people, especially when they do or say things that go against society’s generally accepted standards. A celebrity’s divorce, a public outburst or an arrest all make news. People are also concerned about their health and are interested in stories about traditional remedies, medical research, diseases and hospitals and clinics. They are also interested in the way money works, whether it is being made or lost, and they like to hear about how much someone has donated to a charity.
Almost everything that happens is newsworthy, but journalists make judgments about which events are most important and what information is most relevant. They may be guided by market research, but the final decision rests with them.
A key characteristic of news is timeliness – it must be something that happened recently or is the latest information about an event that has been happening. For example, if you missed the bus and ended up walking to work this morning, it would probably not make the 5:00 pm line-up on TV or in your newspaper, but if you discovered an abandoned litter of baby tigers on your walk that might.