Historically news was conveyed verbally, but modern means of communication – particularly the Internet and mobile phones – have increased the speed at which news can spread. This also makes it much harder for governments to shut down news sources or control the contents of a story (Thurman and Myllylahti 2009; Phillips 2012).
There are certain elements which make for good news stories, such as:
Badness: The death, injury, defeat or loss of somebody or something of significance. This includes wars, strikes and natural disasters.
Crime: Any crime, such as theft, corruption, forgery or homicide is interesting, but murder and other serious crimes tend to make the headlines.
Money: Stories about fortunes made and lost, pay rises, taxes, food prices, budgets, wage increases and compensation claims are all newsworthy. The amount of money involved determines how much interest is generated, but it is not always the case that the largest sums of money are the most interesting – a little girl collecting ten cents at a fund-raising event may be more newsworthy than a businessman giving a hundred thousand dollars.
Usefulness: News articles are useful in keeping people informed about events that might affect them, such as weather forecasts, train timings and information about health services. It is important that the information in the news is reliable, as errors or falsehoods can be very damaging.
When writing a news article it is important to know your audience. For general newspapers and websites this will be obvious, but for specialized publications or communities it is worth spending time considering who they are, what interests them and what kind of information they expect to find.