It seems like just about everybody today has a Twitter account, if they don’t already have one. It’s the new mainstream way to get news, and many people are making a living through promoting it. Many examples of news on the web that has been taken off air include the New York Times, CNN and the Wall Street Journal. Examples of news being canceled on television because of a pending government ban can be found here: CBS This Morning, Fox News Radio and The Weather Channel. If you’re wondering if your favorite news source is already off the air – think again!
What Does It Mean to Make News? To understand what makes news, you first need to understand what ‘news’ is. The definition of the word comes from the Latin verb meaning to write or speak – write being used in the context of news. Today, as in ancient times, ‘news’ refers to reports of current events that are considered important enough to warrant attention by media outlets all over the world. It’s that importance that makes news interesting to people – it makes it interesting to newspapers, television stations and online publications all over the world.
But what exactly does ‘news’ mean? It was originally used to refer to an announcement of a major event, like the landing of a new ship or the sighting of a celestial body. News is still used in this broader sense, but news nowadays often refers to stories that make the front page of major publications all over the world. It usually involves some kind of public interest story – whether it’s political environmental or technological in nature. A vox media article on a recent high-profile situation made the front page of numerous national newspapers.
Now that we’ve defined what ‘news’ means, let’s talk about what ‘good’ news is. In the United States, good news typically refers to stories or reports of good activities, positive events or breakthroughs. This positive news helps the economy and helps citizens feel better about their place in society. In other countries, news is often associated with negative events or news that casts a negative light on specific individuals, companies or even entire nations. In some ways, bad news is just as important as good news: It helps citizens understand how their government is doing, and it helps them understand why specific laws or policies have been chosen.
However, it is not just news that matters. There is also an opinion, comment, assessment, and critique in all of our news, and each of these can have a unique affect on human beings in very different societies. While it may seem that things in one society are settled once and for all, in other societies and cultures there are still ongoing conflicts and power struggles. Thus, what would be newsworthy in one society may not be newsworthy in another.
What’s fascinating about the antedating phenomenon is that it is so broad and so varied. What is newsworthy for me (a man aged 30 who works in an advertising agency) might not be newsworthy for you (a woman aged 25 who lost her job and is now seeking to start her own business). What one individual will label something as news, I may not. The point is that we must be willing to look at the diversity of opinions and the differences of information through the lenses of different news sources and see what the general public is actually concerned about.