History of news

Enjoy this introduction to what news is, a brief history of news and the purpose of journalism.

2 mins read

What is news?

Reporter Avi Yemini interviewing a Hong Kong protester who doesn’t like China

News is the sharing of information that benefits the community it serves. It can be good news or bad news and helps a person make better decisions about the community and wider society that they live in. It can help move us towards things we would like to have more of, and away from things we would like to have less of.

In order to develop your news literacy skills it is useful to consider what the purpose of journalism actually is and what journalists are supposed to do. The purpose of journalism and the role of journalists today is not obvious from the kind of media we are used to being presented with. With developed news literacy skills you will be able to seek out only the highest quality sources of information.

What is journalism?

Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities.

American Press Institute

Journalism is both the product and the process of producing news. Traditionally, this would be carried out in the way you see in the story of news gathering below.

Journalist developing a story

Good journalism is only as strong as its sources. Historically this has meant that only people with access to large revenue streams have been able to produce the news. To properly set news and journalism in context we need to go even further back to the days of the printing press.

While this introduction has been kept deliberately brief, it is dense in terms of the processes and products of the news. As your knowledge of news progresses, and your skills of identifying high quality sources of information increase, you will better be able to gauge the credibility of the information you are being provided with. With higher quality sources of information comes higher quality decisions and sense making.

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