What is News?

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What is News?


The nature of news is a favourite subject of discussion among journalists. Some place the emphasis on one aspect, some on another but it is generally agreed that the essence of news is topicality, novelty and general interest. To be news an item of information must have a bearing on the affairs of the moment, it must be new to those who hear or read it, and it must arouse the interest of a considerable number of those hearers or readers. Items which possess these qualities to a marked degree are often spoken of as "hard" news, and are given priority by those who select and arrange the contents of the paper.

The art of news-gathering calls for a highly developed sense of news values. To acquire this sense the journalist must have a wide acquaintance with men and affairs, a sound educational background and a very considerable stock of general knowledge. For it is only thus that he will be able to distinguish what is new from what is already known, and what is of topical interest from what is of little concern to the majority of his readers. And this knowledge he must keep constantly up to date by being himself an assiduous reader of newspapers and magazines.

Above all, he must have his finger on the pulse of current thought and public opinion; he must, be aware of what the great mass of men and women around him are thinking and feeling; he must never lose "the common touch", for although he himself may move in a circle whose interests are specialised, what he writes must appeal to the man in the street.

The collection of news has a highly organised business. There is hardly a corner of the world today which is not covered by the gigantic network of news-gatherers employed by the local and national newspapers and the great news agencies.

Very briefly, the system operates thus. Local news is collected by the reporters and district representatives of provincial newspapers, and by the local staff correspondents of the national dailies. Events of national importance are covered by staff reporters of the national dailies and by special correspondents of both the national and provincial Press.

In addition, home news is reported by district correspondents of the news agencies, notably the Press Association, the Exchange Telegraph and Central News. Foreign news is gathered by Reuters news agency and by the foreign correspondents employed by the national dailies and some of the larger provincial papers. Items of interest to particular sections of the community (e.g. trade and technical news) are gathered by a number of smaller news agencies operating in different parts of the country.



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