News is information about current events. This may be provided through many different media: word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting, electronic communication, or through the testimony of observers and witnesses to events.
Common topics for news reports include war, government, politics, education, health, the environment, economy, business, fashion, and entertainment, as well as athletic events, quirky or unusual events. Government proclamations, concerning royal ceremonies, laws, taxes, public health, and criminals, have been dubbed news since ancient times. Humans exhibit a nearly universal desire to learn and share news, which they satisfy by talking to each other and sharing information. Technological and social developments, often driven by government communication and espionage networks, have increased the speed with which news can spread, as well as influenced its content. The genre of news as we know it today is closely associated with the newspaper, which originated in China as a court bulletin and spread, with paper and printing press, to Europe.
The English word "news" developed in the 14th century as a special use of the plural form of "new". In Middle English, the equivalent word was newes, like the French nouvelles and the German Neues. Similar developments are found in the Slavic languages the Czech and Slovak noviny (from nový, "new"), the cognate Polish nowiny, the Bulgarian novini, and Russian novosti - and in the Celtic languages: the Welsh newyddion (from newydd) and the Cornish nowodhow (from nowydh).
Jessica Garretson Finch is credited with coining the phrase "current events" while teaching at Barnard College in the 1890s.
The oldest media forms are newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, and other printed material. These publications are collectively known as the Print Media. Although print media readership has declined in the last few decades, many Americans still read a newspaper every day or a newsmagazine on a regular basis. The influence of print media is therefore significant. Regular readers of print media tend to be more likely to be politically active.
Broadcast Media are news reports broadcast via radio and television. Television news is hugely important in the United States because more Americans get their news from television broadcasts than from any other source.
The main broadcast networks-ABC, CBS, and NBC-each have a news division that broadcasts a nightly news show. For the past fifty years, most Americans watched one or more of these broadcasts. Since the 1980s, however, cable news channels have chipped away at the broadcast networks. CNN and MSNBC both broadcast news around the clock. Because the cable news channels are always broadcasting news programs, many people who want to follow a story closely tune in to these stations first. The relatively new Fox network news program has also drawn numerous viewers away from the big three networks.
The other type of broadcast media is radio. Before the advent of television in the 1950s, most Americans relied on radio broadcasts for their news. Although fewer Americans rely on radio as their primary news source, many people still listen to radio news every day, especially during morning and evening commutes. Local news stations have a particularly large audience because they can report on local weather, traffic, and events.
The Internet is slowly transforming the news media because more Americans are relying on online sources of news instead of traditional print and broadcast media. Americans surf the sites of more traditional media outlets, such as NBC and CNN, but also turn to unique online news sources such as weblogs. Websites can provide text, audio, and video information, all of the ways traditional media are transmitted. The web also allows for a more interactive approach by allowing people to personally tailor the news they receive via personalized web portals, newsgroups, podcasts, and RSS feeds.