The Job of a Journalist
News is information about current events, such as accidents, fires, murders, sports achievements, political developments and celebrity scandals. The earliest form of news was oral communication, which has been followed by written communication, including books, newspapers and now television, radio and the Internet. The main function of the news is to inform, but some people use it as entertainment as well.
A key to writing a good news article is getting the most important points in first. This is known as “writing above the fold,” and refers to the crease in a newspaper or magazine where the most prominent stories are placed. For online news, it means putting the most interesting or significant information at the top of the article so that readers are more likely to keep reading.
Other considerations include the importance of the event, whether it is a tragedy or a triumph, and the degree to which it is significant. If the event involves a famous person, the impact of the event on that person’s reputation or that of their family can also add to the importance of an article.
The news industry is a highly competitive and rapidly changing environment. New technology has changed the speed at which information is delivered, and changes in social and cultural attitudes have altered the kinds of things that are considered newsworthy. No theory of news values explains everything, and it is often difficult to predict what will make the front pages.
Most journalists have a specific audience that they are trying to appeal to when they write an article. This can sometimes be obvious, such as a local newspaper covering a particular city, but can also be more obscure. When an article is about zoning laws in a commercial area, the audience might be business owners and realtors.
A major part of the job of a journalist is interviewing sources. Some journalists may be able to provide their own quotes, but in most cases, they must get others to speak for them. Obtaining quotations from primary sources is the most common way to fill out a story, but secondary sources can be equally useful. These might be experts who can offer commentary or analysis, or ordinary people who have a unique perspective on the subject matter.
In addition to interviews, journalists must read as much news as possible in order to understand the issues that they are writing about. This helps them develop a sense of what is and is not newsworthy. They must be aware of the jargon that is used within their field, and make an effort to find ways to explain it in more general terms so that their articles are accessible to people who are not familiar with the language. This is especially important when writing about science and technology, where the use of specialized vocabulary can act as a barrier to understanding. However, it is not always possible to avoid using specialized terminology when reporting on technical subjects.