NEWS- AN OVERVIEW:
News is what something that we did not know before. News is something that interests people, a large number of people, even a nation or the world at large. It is what happened in North, South, East, and West, in short NSWE, which an imaginative editor rearranged to NEWS. A beginner’s definition could be: News is something that interests, excites or concerns people. News not only interests but also at times excites and at times concerns because it may be a mishap or a tragedy. John B. Bogart of the New York Sun defines News thus: When a dog bites a man, that is not news; but when a man bites a dog, that is News. The crux or gist of this definition is anything unusual is News. Joseph Pulitzer of Pulitzer Prize fame and the publisher of the New York World defined News as: original, distinctive, dramatic, romantic, thrilling, unique, curious, quaint, humorous, odd and apt-to-be-talked about. News may be broadly divided into hard news and soft news. News that has a great importance and impact on the life of a nation or people or news that has great significance or affects life of many people is termed hard news. And news that interests people but without great significance is called soft news. Every newspaper carries a mix of hard news and soft news daily.
The swearing-in of a President or Prime Minister, the presentation of the national budget, the passing of an important Bill in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, the assassination of a Prime Minister or a President, a major earthquake, plane crash, etc. are examples of hard news. On the other hand, the wedding of a film actor, the birthday party of a celebrity, a rock show, a beauty contest, or a campus festival are examples of soft news.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD NEWS
Characteristics of Good News (also called news values) are
Balance and Fairness,
Human interest, and
The newsman should be obsessed with accuracy because one mistake can destroy the reputation of a newspaper or magazine, and it takes just fraction of a second to make one. Checking and crosschecking names, figures, and verifying facts are of utmost importance. Always attribute the news to the source so that readers can judge its credibility. “ A highly placed Defense Personnel, Finance Ministry Sources”, etc. are attributions that help readers to arrive at their own conclusions, while steering clear of the suspicion that the reporter is giving his own version of the story. Balance and fairness form the foundation of good journalism. Balance is giving both sides of the picture, while fairness is not taking sides. It also means not providing support to political parties, institutions, communities or individuals, etc. through the columns of the newspaper. It is the attribute of a professional reporter and the duty of a sub editor to implement it.
Brevity is a great virtue in journalism appreciated by readers and editors alike. It is telling a story, as it should be, without beating around the bush. It saves time and space and wins applause when consummated to perfection.
Clarity is the ability to think clearly and translate it into paper - a quality that can take one to the higher echelons of media hierarchy. Readability has a bearing on sentence length and simple and forthright manner of expression. The average length of a sentence should not exceed 18 words, which is standard. It is not easy to read a sentence with more than 18 words. Beyond 25 words the sentence would be very difficult to read, though some accomplished authors have far exceeded the standard and yet remained readable because of their craftsmanship. But beginners are advised to stay out of long-winding and complicated sentence constructions. The best way is to write news stories using simple words, short and simple sentences.
Writing in a style that arouses human interest is what the craft of writing is all about. Newsmen should see...
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