What is News?

People have a great deal of information about the world around them. Some of this comes from the traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and radio; some of it is gleaned from the Internet. All of it can be a bit overwhelming. News can be defined as that which is new, interesting or significant and which concerns matters of immediate concern to the public (Fuller, 2003).

While the news may contain all sorts of things it is primarily about people and how they affect each other. In addition it can be about things which are non-human in nature such as natural disasters, climate change or a disease outbreak. It is also about things of a religious, political or economic nature. It is important to note that the same event can be newsworthy in different societies and cultures.

Many theories have been proposed as to what makes something newsworthy. These include:

The Mirror Model (Galtung and Ruge, 1975) which says that the news reflects reality.

Other models suggest that the news is selected and presented by marketers. This has a strong influence on the type of news that is reported and what should be emphasized in the story.

Still others say that the news is filtered through the ideological biases of journalists and the various pressures of society. Nevertheless it is important to remember that the main job of news is to inform and educate the readers, listeners or viewers. While entertainment can come from other areas – music and drama on the radio, crosswords in newspapers and cartoons on television – it is not the job of the news to entertain.