News is the most talked about subject in journalism. So, what is new? Well, there is no single definition for news. Different scholars and journalists define it in different ways. Some say the event that takes place in all sides; North, East, West and South are news. While some say news are something unusual like John B. Bogart of New York Sun, who says, “When a dog bites a man, that is not news; but when a man bites a dog, that is news.”
News has many definitions like “ News is anything that you find out today that you didn’t know before” by Turner Catledge of New York Times , “ Whatever interests the readers”, “ News is ‘ tomorrow’s history written today” , “ Literature in hurry”, “ News is a timely factual report of events, ideas, or situations interesting or significant to the public” and many more. All the above stated definitions give us an idea of what news actually is and agree in the following points:
- Eminence or prominence
- Consequences or impact
- Human interest
The history of telling news dates back to the times when printing presses did not exist and news were transmitted verbally in social places like Greek forum , Roman baths, Mosques, Mecca, and coffee shops in England after it’s establishment. News has been passing on since people learnt to communicate. During the time of Julius Caesar, Acta Diurna was introduced which carved important notices in metal plates and kept in various public sites. Years before printing press had embarked its journey to give news; there were town criers in Florence in the 13th century who announced important political notices and meeting. They were called banditori.
The spread of news has always been linked to the communications networks in place to disseminate it. Thus, political, religious, and commercial interests have historically controlled, expanded, and monitored communications channels by which news could spread. Postal services were the initial means of communication and maintaining political relations from a very long time.
News, before were quite informal, verbal and the “new” factor was dominant. When Johannes Gutenberg printed the first copy of bible and the printing tradition began, then news began to formally disseminate formal information with the initiation of London Gazette (1666 AD), the first newspaper of London and Public Occurrences (1690 AD) in America.
There is a vast difference in the way of writing news to how they are presented since past to now. Before, the news were given for informing people as there were not much of news paper and the information was stacked all over the news paper. They mostly followed inverted pyramid style of writing news and answered five “W’s” and an “H” in the lead.
When newspapers started mushrooming, the newspaper companies started to compete against each other as just giving information was not different and it was different which sold in the market. Hence, the style of news writing changed. The news was not stacked together. There were spaces where the eyes could take rest and those were the type the readers liked. The news started adding pictures and graphics to make the news attractive. As before, five “W’s” and an “H” weren’t answered in the very first paragraph (lead). There are now various types of writing news and style guides which the news paper follows.
Thus, news is special information that interests a person, which is different and unusual. The history of news dates back to when people started communicating and is still prevalent though in different forms.