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What is News?

jeremy | Tuesday May 05, 2009

Categories: New Media, Digital Media, New Technologies, We Media, News, Intro to News, Other Topics, Understanding Media, Understanding Key Topics

What is News?

News is an integral part of daily life. We use news to frame our daily events. A plane crashes at Heathrow, in a remarkably short space of time everyone knows about it. We might wake up to it in the morning on the radio or TV. We may go to sleep with it, and we may hear it during the day, or see a live TV screen with rolling news. We may read a newspaper. At its heart, news is about people doing things. People’s activity is interesting.

What journalists are looking for according to Denis MacShane in Using the Media is:

  • CONFLICT
  • HARDSHIP & DANGER to the COMMUNITY
  • THE UNUSUAL
  • SCANDAL
  • INDIVIDUALISM

Lord Northcliffe who owned many newspapers in the UK takes it one stage further:

‘News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.’

A Free Press

Demographic governments, like the ones in Europe and America, depend on a ‘free press’ for their survival. A free press means that the news media are able to write and freely publish any views, ideas, comments and information that is legal. It may cost money to buy the publication, but the ideas are not censored in any way by the government.

The first thing that repressive regimes around the world do if they want power over the people is to restrict press freedom either by shutting down radio, TV and the newspapers or by severely restricting what they are able to report, or both. A free press allows people to air their views, their criticisms and their complaints and it acts as a safety valve for discontent as well as keeping the government in touch with the people.

Many democratic governments do try to control the flow of news and the way governmental stories are released to the press. Governments routinely try to suppress stories that are critical of them, sometimes by making laws that stop the press reporting on certain events especially to do with defence.

Modern electronic ways of reporting and distributing news have opened up the way...


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