News is information about events occurring in society, politics, business and the economy. It is important to have access to timely and accurate news because it helps people make informed decisions. The most successful democracies require a well-informed citizenry, and a free press is the best way to keep people informed. Unfortunately, some governments try to limit the flow of information to citizens through censorship and violence. The Internet is becoming a major source of information even in countries where censorship is common, and mobile devices such as phones and tablets can be used to circumvent state restrictions on the press.
The goal of the press is to present current and interesting events in a way that is accurate, fast and objective. News should be presented briefly so people will read it, clearly so they will understand it and picturesquely so they will remember it. News is not just an aggregation of facts; it should also include opinion, commentary and analysis. It is important to be aware of the differences between hard and soft news, because the different types of stories appeal to different audiences.
While hard news focuses on specific events, soft news is more general and subjective. It can involve a wide variety of subjects, including social issues, celebrity, politics and crime. People tend to be more interested in soft news if it involves a topic they are passionate about or if it affects them personally.
What makes a story newsworthy is dependent on the culture and values of each society. For example, a cow and pig farm collapsing might be newsworthy in one society but not another because the importance of livestock varies from place to place. Other factors that influence what is considered newsworthy include impact, proximity, controversy, currency and prominence.
In the past, it was difficult to gather information and spread it to the masses because the printing and broadcasting industries were limited by technology. However, with advances in communications technology and the advent of the Internet, news is available almost instantly to anyone who wants it. This has led to a proliferation of media sources, and some have become more influential than others.
Some critics believe that the news media are influenced by market research, which may cause them to focus on certain events and omit other important developments. Others argue that marketing does not determine what is newsworthy; rather, journalists have a set of judgment guidelines they follow.
The most important factor in determining what is newsworthy is whether it is unusual and significant. It is not news if a man wakes up, eats breakfast and takes the bus to work every day; it must be an extraordinary event for this to be considered newsworthy. Similarly, a man getting robbed or killed is not newsworthy, but a terrorist attack is. A good headline is a crucial part of the newsworthiness of an article. It must be catchy enough to draw attention, yet accurate enough to stand up to a quick check.