News is a written account of human activity, and that seeks primarily to educate, inform, or entertain the reader. It differs from other forms of writing in that it is intended for general audiences. The first necessity of news is that it ought not have already been published somewhere else before. It ought to come straight to the public’s attention for the very first time. That is done through newspapers.
In order to make sure that news readers get the correct news, journalists must put aside their personal opinions about any given subject or issue, and focus instead on providing the correct information based on facts and reliable data. In doing so, they use different types of tools such as databases, news agency contacts, and newsbases that help them compile and organize the relevant information for their readers. For instance, journalists could base a piece on some public data like unemployment figures for a city, census figures for a state, and so on. Such a piece of news, when properly reported and written, will not only be accurate but also be a welcome and valuable addition to society.
However, not all news can be deemed to be of interest to its target readers. In fact, most journalists tend to write about events that have already been covered, thus perpetuating the already existing problem of journalism bias. Bias, according to some observers, is defined as the partiality, interest, or even admiration that one develops for a person, place, thing or idea that is different from one’s own. Thus, the more bias a journalist develops in his or her profession, the more problematic the situation becomes for both the target readers and the journalist. Such partiality and bias are what lay behind the sometimes unfair stereotyping of certain groups of people, nationalities, and ethnicities in journalism.
In today’s world of changing demographics, changes in the national economy, and political turmoil, ethnic and cultural prejudices are finding places in the news. It is not unusual for an article written by a mainstream journalist to mention the achievements of a minority ethnic group, be it African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or Jews. While some journalists may find these achievements refreshing, others see the focus on ethnic groups as culturally motivated, and therefore as an unjustified celebration of difference. In other words, some stories are published to merely stir up controversy and as tools for agitation among particular groups or communities.
Then, there is another group that has found itself in the cross-hairs of such controversies: the personal impact of news on the lives of ordinary citizens. News, no matter how important it is, affects not only the reporters and editors who have their work to do, but also those readers who are not directly involved in the field. In many cases, the news can have a profound personal impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. A story about a teenager’s drowning in a pond may touch the hearts of parents who worry about their children. At the same time, a story about a school student who was tormented at the school by the bullies may cause other parents to be more vigilant about the conditions in which their children are being homeschooled.
The above examples make clear the importance of taking note of the way that news can make itself known. Readers and listeners pick up the tone and phrases used in news and are affected by the content. Even more importantly, they are affected by the emotions and sentiments expressed in news. If a story is funny or saddening to read, readers and listeners will comment about it. That comment, in turn, will make news value rise among people who read the article and increase the chances that article will end up in the public eye.