Man can subsist without newspaper but no newspaper can subsist without news. News is the spinal cord of journalism. The basic assumption of journalism is the collection, presentation and interpretation of news which is meant to inform the people about new and novel.
DEFINITION OF NEWS
- News has been defined differently by different experts. Some of the definitions are given below:
- News is anything out of the ordinary
- News is the unusual picture of life.
- News is anything that people talk about; the more it excites the greater its value. ,
- News comprises all current activities which are of general human interest and the best news is that which interests most of the reader.
- Anything that enough people want to read is news provided it does not violate the canons of good taste and the law of libel.
- News is like a hot cake coming straight from oven.
- News is the report of an event that is fresh, unusual and which is interesting to a greater number of people.
From these definitions we are now clear to have understood the elements of news. Let’s see what these are.
News is the factual report of an event. What the reporter sees is supposed to report. Objectivity means to report the facts exactly the same way as they occurred. It goes against objectivity if the reporter adds something from his own imagination. Comment/suggestion or proposal is not the task of a news reporter. These are considered right in a column, editorial, etc. In these formats of journalistic writings the writer can provide in-depth and background information.
In simplest words objectivity means just to report the tip of the iceberg and leave the rest to analytical and in-depth reporting. It will not be an objective reporting if the reporter wants to angle, slant or shade the news.
Concise and Clear
There is a famous sentence about writing a news story : “Brevity and simplicity are the soul of journalism.”
Journalism has got a special language – journalistic language – which is quite different from all other languages and particularly from the literature.
Journalistic language is simple, easy, concise and clear. Its basic aim is to convey the message in the simplest way to the masses because every person in the masses is not highly educated.
There is an approved writing style of achieving concision and brevity. Which is called “Inverted pyramid style of news”? This news writing style has been explained in Unit No. 2 of this course.
There are various factors that qualify an event to be a news story. Let’s discuss these factors.
Time factor plays an important role in the effectiveness of a news story. Nobody likes to read an outdated story, even if it is very important. News is just like a perishable commodity having a very short life.
We can accommodate a past time story in literature, drama, feature, etc.. but it does not work in news. Journalism’s famous slogan is that “Today news is today”^
2. Proximity or Nearness
The importance of a news greatly depends on the place of its origin. Proximity in journalism does not only refer to geographical nearness but interest of nearness is well. For examples, Imran Khan’s marriage took place in U.K. but the story is .;iore interesting for the people of this part of the world.
An earthquake in China killing 200 people will be less important in our
newspapers than the story of earthquake killing 30 persons in Pakistan
Readers have interest in names of persons with whom they are familiar. The bigger the personality involved in the event, the greater its news value. Stories of film stars, players, politician’s philosophers and poets etc., have greater news value.
The event relating to greater loss of life, damage or natural disaster creates interest for the readers. Example: A story of fire resulting in the death of one person will have less impact than the story of fire resulting in the death of 100 people.
Everybody takes interest in confrontation among people, nations and groups. The highest form of conflict is war and no war story fails to create interest for the readers.
A dog bites a common man is not a news but if a man bites a dog it is a great news because it is unusual. The more the event is unusual the greater its value.
The news story that affects some change in the life of people will have great value. For example, news about budget, rise in petrol price, electricity rates and increase in salary, etc. are read with great interest by people.
8. Human interest
Human interest stories deal with usual events but usually these stories involve fellow feeling, emotion of brotherhood and humanness.
When a person reads about joy or sorrow of others he mentally associates himself with them.
Example: A story of a child rescued by a fireman as a seven-storey building caught fire has greater value than the story of the complete loss of the building.