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10 Scholarly Definitions of News

(Last Updated On: 23rd May 2023)

10 Scholarly Definitions of News


The concept of news refers to the communication of current events, information, and stories to the public through various media channels. News plays a crucial role in informing and educating society about local, national, and global events that impact people’s lives. It serves as a vital tool for promoting transparency, accountability, and democratic participation.

The origin of news can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where individuals disseminated information through oral communication or written records. Over time, the development of technologies such as printing presses, telegraphs, radios, televisions, and the internet has revolutionized the way news is gathered, produced, and distributed.

News sources can vary widely, ranging from traditional media outlets like newspapers, radio, and television to modern digital platforms such as websites, social media, podcasts, and mobile applications. These sources employ journalists, reporters, and correspondents who investigate, verify, and report on events and issues.

The credibility and reliability of news are of utmost importance. Journalism ethics and standards guide news organizations and journalists in maintaining accuracy, fairness, and impartiality. To ensure quality reporting, journalists adhere to principles like verifying information from multiple sources, attributing sources, fact-checking, and separating news from opinion or commentary.

10 Definitions of News

  1. “News is a form of communication that informs the public of current events, issues, and trends in society.” (Croteau & Hoynes, 2014)
  2. “News is a cultural production that transforms events and issues into symbols and narratives that reflect and shape social meaning.” (Fishman, 1980)
  3. “News is a product of a news organization, conveying information to an audience about recent events, developments, and issues.” (Galtung & Ruge, 1965)
  4. “News is a social construction that provides a mediated reality of events and issues that are selected, framed, and presented by news media professionals.” (McQuail, 2010)
  5. “News is a means of communication that provides citizens with information and knowledge necessary for their democratic participation and decision-making.” (Lippmann, 1922)
  6. News is a mode of public communication that represents a specific, observable form of discourse about the world.” (Schudson, 2011)
  7. “News is a genre of journalism that reports on events and issues of public interest, emphasizing the timely and relevant aspects of those events and issues.” (Tuchman, 1978)
  8. “News is a process of selecting, processing, and disseminating information about events, issues, and people that are considered newsworthy by journalists.” (Zelizer, 1993)
  9. News is a medium through which individuals and societies create, maintain, and share a sense of public knowledge and common understanding.” (Zelizer & Allan, 2011)
  10. “News is an account of current events presented in a medium to a public audience.” (Bell, 1991)


The functions of the news cannot be exhausted, however, few of the functions are itemized.

1. Informing the Public: One of the primary functions of news is to provide information to the public about current events, developments, and issues happening around the world. It keeps people updated and aware of what is happening in their local communities, countries, and internationally.

2. Educating and Explaining: News serves as a platform for educating and explaining complex topics, helping the audience understand various subjects, including politics, science, economics, culture, and more. It breaks down complex ideas and presents them in an accessible manner.

3. Promoting Accountability: News holds individuals, organizations, and governments accountable for their actions and decisions. By reporting on corruption, scandals, and unethical behavior, news media plays a crucial role in promoting transparency and ensuring that those in power are answerable to the public.

4. Providing Analysis and Interpretation: News offers analysis and interpretation of events, helping the audience make sense of complex situations. It provides context, background information, expert opinions, and different perspectives, allowing people to form informed opinions and make decisions based on a deeper understanding.

5. Fostering Public Debate: News stimulates public debate by presenting different viewpoints and facilitating discussions on important issues. It provides a platform for the exchange of ideas, encourages dialogue, and promotes democratic values such as freedom of speech and expression.

6. Mobilizing Public Opinion: News has the power to influence public opinion and shape public discourse. It can raise awareness about social issues, mobilize support for causes, and drive social and political change. News media plays a crucial role in advocating for human rights, equality, and justice.

7. Serving as a Watchdog: News acts as a watchdog by monitoring and exposing abuses of power, corruption, and wrongdoing. Investigative journalism plays a vital role in uncovering hidden truths, bringing issues to light, and ensuring that those in power are held accountable.

8. Entertainment and Leisure: News also serves as a form of entertainment and leisure, offering a break from serious news through features, lifestyle segments, and cultural coverage. It provides a diverse range of content to cater to different interests and preferences.

9. Promoting Awareness and Social Responsibility: News media raises awareness about social, environmental, and humanitarian issues, encouraging individuals to take action and promoting social responsibility. It highlights charitable initiatives, environmental concerns, and other important causes, inspiring people to make a positive difference.

10. Supporting Democracy: News plays a crucial role in a democratic society by providing citizens with the information they need to participate in the political process. It helps voters make informed decisions, covers elections, and facilitates an informed citizenry, which is essential for a functioning democracy.


Bell, A. (1991). The Language of News Media. Oxford: Blackwell.

Croteau, D., & Hoynes, W. (2014). Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Fishman, M. (1980). Manufacturing the News. Austin: the University of Texas Press.

Galtung, J., & Ruge, M. H. (1965). The Structure of Foreign News. Journal of Peace Research, 2(1), 64-91.

McQuail, D. (2010). McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory (6th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Lippmann, W. (1922). Public Opinion. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

Schudson, M. (2011). The Sociology of News (2nd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Tuchman, G. (1978). Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality. New York:  The Free Press.

Zelizer, B., & Allan, S. (2011). Journalism After September 11. New York: Routledge.

Zelizer, B. (1993). Journalists as Interpretive Communities. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 10(2), 219-237.

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