News is information about recent or current events. News articles are a major component of the media and can be found in newspapers, magazines, radio, television and online. The purpose of news is to inform the public about the world around them and about issues that affect them directly or indirectly. News is also a tool to influence the way that people perceive and act in their daily lives.
News about violence and scandal appeal to the emotions, while stories involving money, food or sports appeal to the rational mind. In addition, news is more likely to be selected when it affects a large number of people, is local or involves someone prominent. Various models have been used to explain how and why news is selected. One such model, based on the work of Harcup and O’Neill (2001), identifies five factors that influence news selection: impact, proximity, prominence, controversy and currency.
The definition of what is newsworthy varies from society to society. A classic example is the old saying that “dog bites man” is not news, but “man bites dog” is news. Other examples include things that are unusual, such as an insect living on a new plant that it did not previously inhabit, and events that affect the well being of a society, such as the economic climate, wars, floods, droughts and disease outbreaks.
Entertainment and celebrity make for interesting news, as do stories about the weather, food prices, wage rises, schools, the Budget and economic crises. All societies are interested in the lives of their famous men and women, and in rumours about them, especially when they fall from power or become involved in scandal.