News is information about people, places and things which has been conveyed from one person to another. News is often reported in newspapers, magazines and radio but it can also be conveyed orally or through the internet. News is important for a number of reasons; it helps to keep the public informed, allows citizens to make democracy work and promotes debate on issues.
The definition of what is news can vary greatly – from a small injury to an international conference on a disputed topic. The amount of detail and the importance of the event also affects what is deemed to be newsworthy. Some researchers have based their definitions on factors such as the impact, proximity and prominence of the subject; others have tried to define what is considered newsworthy using a more scientific approach.
For example, Brighton and Foy suggest that news values should take into account the following:
They then use these factors to analyse a selection of newspaper headlines. The results of this analysis show that the key factor for most newspapers is the novelty and significance of the subject matter. The second and third most important factors are the presence of a celebrity and the extent to which the story is able to be illustrated with photographs or other audio-visuals.
Other important factors include the impact of the event, whether it is good or bad and how widespread its effects are. The final factor is the extent to which the story is newsworthy in terms of its magnitude.