Definition of news

“It is not news if a dog bites a man, but it is news if a man bites a dog” (John B. Bogart, city editor of New York Sun, 1882, quoted in Randall, 2011).

“News is the unusual. It is something fresh, something people have not heard before, something that is of interest to people” (Randall, 2011).

“News is anything which interests a large part of the community and which has never been brought to their attention” (Charles Dana, editor of the Sun, 19th century, quoted in McKane, 2010).

“News is mostly about what does not usually happen – that’s why it is news” (Harcup, 2009).

“News contains much that is new, informing people about something that has just happened” (Harcup, 2009).

News stories are hard or soft

  • Hard news stories usually cover politics, economics, business, conflict, crimes, courts, accidents, etc. They’re factual and aim to inform. Breaking or live news are typically hard news.
  • Soft news stories usually cover human interest topics, also arts, entertainment, health, education. They’re longer and often written as feature stories. They’re less timely and aim to entertain as well as inform.

The 5Ws of journalism

When starting to research a story idea you need to begin with the basic questions – this is known as the 5Ws –

  • Who
  • What
  • Why
  • Where
  • When

There might be a need to introduce an extra level which is How.

For example, Bank customers / received extra cash / after an ATM malfunction / in England / on Friday.

Introductions should be between 15 and 30 words long and the overall article should follow the inverted pyramid model.


  • Accuracy
  • Brevity
  • Clarity