Several kinds of information constitute news.
These include facts, figures, Interpretation, opinion and announcements. Facts, together with figures refer to statements of unchanging elements in a news item. If it is changing, fact refers then to the last known state of that element. Interpretations try to draw meaning from occurrences. It is the effort put into understanding the situation under consideration. Opinions seek to inform the reader or listener about the aspects of a situation based on law, economics, or a multidisciplinary view of the situation under review. Its purpose is to predict effects, describe impact or present possibilities in relation to the occurrence of an event.
Finally, announcements form a critical component of news. This informs the recipients about an event or a change. Its purpose is to update on the latest state of a news item. It includes aspects like major job appointments, upcoming events, death and funerals, among others.
Public announcement of road closures fall under this category. We use news for many different purposes including acquisition of facts, formation of opinions, settlement of arguments and for planning of activities. Many things are just necessary to know regardless of whether there is anything expected from us in relation to it.
This includes matters like terrorist threats, progress of war, presidential visits, among others. It keeps us in the loop and greatly aids our social interaction. Formation of opinion is important in issues where we need to take a stand such as participation in elections and referendums. Settling arguments becomes necessary when there are factual errors in understanding, or differing viewpoints on how a matter will evolve. Finally, news is useful to us for planning our activities. The weather report is invaluable for us when we are planning to travel.
Good or reliable news must come from trustworthy sources such as a well-known media houses, official communication by campus administration on notice boards, or trusted persons. If it comes from other sources, then it needs to be verifiable by independent parties. Credible news influences action. For instance if the government raises terror alert levels, then signs of enhanced security such as in airports and public places ought to be visible. These factors also determine whether one can trust a news source. Any news that sounds sensationalized, or that comes from suspicious sources or that is out of context attracts suspicion. Generally, any news that sounds ‘off’ and is not verifiable does not command confidence.
This applies for official communication and for personal communication. The most suspicious news sources are online news sources presenting partisan views because they often present their views as though they were fact. The definition of news therefore must include the following elements. It requires informative characteristics, an element of ‘newness’ and must have an objective. Before an item qualifies to be news, there has to be an additional amount of information it is adding to what the recipient already knows. Whether it is personal communication, press release, blog reports or announcements on a notice board, additional information is necessary for an item to become news. Secondly, it requires an element of newness. If it sounds old, then it fails in its function as news.
Finally, the item must have a clear objective. Good news items evoke some kind of reaction, and inspire thought or action. Therefore, a fitting definition of news is an item of communication through mainstream, official and personal means of communication that passes on new information to the recipient to achieve a clear objective.