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EtymologyThe 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 and Russian novosti—and in the Celtic languages: the Welsh newyddion (from newydd) and the Cornish nowodhow (from nowydh).
HistoryBefore the invention of newspapers in the early 17th century, official government bulletins and edicts were circulated at times in some centralized empires.
The first documented use of an organized courier service for the diffusion of written documents is in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers for the diffusion of their decrees in the territory of the State (2400 BC). This practice almost certainly has roots in the much older practice of oral messaging and may have been built on a pre-existing infrastructure.
In Ancient Rome, Acta Diurna, or government announcement bulletins, were made public by Julius Caesar. They were carved in metal or stone and posted in public places.
In China, early government-produced news sheets, called tipao, circulated among court officials during the late Han dynasty (second and third centuries AD). Between 713 and 734, the Kaiyuan Za Bao ("Bulletin of the Court") of the Chinese Tang Dynasty published government news; it was handwritten on silk and read by government officials. In 1582 there was the first reference to privately published newssheets in Beijing, during the late Ming Dynasty.
In Early modern Europe, increased cross-border interaction created a rising need for information which was met by concise handwritten newssheets. In 1556, the government of Venice first published the monthly Notizie scritte, which cost one gazetta. These avvisi were handwritten newsletters and used to convey political, military, and economic news quickly and efficiently to Italian cities (1500–1700)—sharing some characteristics of newspapers though usually not considered true newspapers. Due to low literacy rates, news was at times disseminated by town criers.
Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, from 1605, is recognized as the world's first newspaper.
The oldest news agency is the Agence France-Presse (AFP). It was founded in 1835 by a Parisian translator and advertising agent, Charles-Louis Havas as Agence Havas.
In modern times, printed news had to be phoned into a newsroom or brought there by a reporter, where it was typed and either transmitted over wire services or edited and manually set in type along with other news stories for a specific edition. Today, the term "breaking news" has become trite as commercial broadcasting United States cable news services that are available 24-hours a day use live satellite technology to bring current events into consumers' homes as the event occurs. Events that used to take hours or days to become common knowledge in towns or in nations are fed instantaneously to consumers via radio, television, mobile phone, and the Internet.
Forms of news
News organizations are often expected to aim for objectivity; reporters claim to try to cover all sides of an issue without bias, as compared to commentators or analysts, who provide opinion or personal point of view. The result is a laying out of facts in a sterile, noncommittal manner, and then standing back to "let the reader decide" which view is true. Several governments impose certain constraints or police news organizations against bias. In the United Kingdom, for example, limits are set by the government agency Ofcom, the Office of Communications. Both newspapers and broadcast news programs in the United States are generally expected to remain neutral and avoid bias except for clearly indicated editorial articles or segments. Many single-party governments have operated state-run news organizations, which may present the government's views.
Even in those situations where objectivity is expected, it is difficult to achieve, and individual journalists may fall foul of their own personal bias, or succumb to commercial or political pressure. Similarly, the objectivity of news organizations owned by conglomerated corporations fairly may be questioned, in light of the natural incentive for such groups to report news in a manner intended to advance the conglomerate's financial interests. Individuals and organizations who are the subject of news reports may use news management techniques to try to make a favourable impression. Because each individual has a particular point of view, it is recognized that there can be no absolute objectivity in news reporting.
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In some countries and at some points in history, what news media and the public have considered "newsworthy" has met different definitions, such as the notion of news values. For example, mid-twentieth-century news reporting in the United States focused on political and local issues with important socio-economic impacts, such as the landing of a living person on the moon or the cold war. More recently, the focus similarly remains on political and local issues; however, the news mass media now comes under criticism for over-emphasis on "non-news" and "gossip" such as celebrities' personal social issues, local issues of little merit, as well as biased sensationalism of political topics such as terrorism and the economy. The dominance of celebrity and social news, the blurring of the boundary between news and reality shows and other popular culture, and the advent of citizen journalism may suggest that the nature of 'news' and news values are evolving and that traditional models of the news process are now only partially relevant. Newsworthiness does not only depend on the topic, but also the presentation of the topic and the selection of information from that topic.
New ecology of newsMichael Schudson, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has said that "[e]verything we thought we once knew about journalism needs to be rethought in the Digital Age." Today the work of journalism can be done from anywhere and done well. It requires no more than a reporter and a laptop. In that way, journalistic authority seems to have become more individual- and less institution-based. But does the individual reporter always have to be an actual journalist? Or can journalistic work be done from anywhere and by anyone? These are questions that refer to the core of journalistic practice and the definition of "news" itself. As Schudson has given emphasis to, the answer is not easily found; "the ground journalists walk upon is shaking, and the experience for both those who work in the field and those on the outside studying it is dizzying".
Schudson has identified the following six specific areas where the ecology of news in his opinion has changed:
- The line between the reader and writer has blurred.
- The distinction among tweet, blog post, Facebook, newspaper story, magazine article, and book has blurred.
- The line between professionals and amateurs has blurred, and a variety of "pro-am" relationships has emerged.
- The boundaries delineating for-profit, public, and non-profit media have blurred, and the cooperation across these models of financing has developed.
- Within commercial news organizations, the line between the news room and the business office has blurred.
- The line between old media and new media has blurred, practically beyond recognition.
- Shirkey, Clay (2008). Here Comes Everybody. Penguin. p. 328. ISBN 978-1-59420-153-0.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
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- Brook, Timothy. (1998). The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22154-0 (Paperback). p. xxi.
- Wan-Press.org, A Newspaper Timeline, World Association of Newspapers
- Infelise, Mario. "Roman Avvisi: Information and Politics in the Seventeenth Century." Court and Politics in Papal Rome, 1492–1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 212, 214, 216–217
- Weber 2006, p. 396; World Association of Newspapers: "Newspapers: 400 Years Young!"
- Broderick, James F.; Darren W. Miller (2007). Consider the source: A Critical Guide to 100 Prominent News and Information Sites on the Web. Information Today, Inc. p. 1. ISBN 0-910965-77-3.
- "Public Journalism and the Problem of Objectivity". Unc.edu. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
- Thomas, Helen (2006). Watchdogs of Democracy? Chapter 5 "Spinning the News". p. 57.
- "Re-thinking Objectivity". CJR. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
- "newsworthiness - definition of newsworthiness by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
- "News values: immediacy and technology".
-  News Values. URL Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Schudson, Michael (2011). The Sociology of News (2nd edition). p. 205. ISBN 0393912876.
- Schudson, Michael (2011). The Sociology of News (2nd edition). pp. 207–216.
- Schudson, Michael (2011). The Sociology of News (2nd edition). p. 207.
- Stephens, Mitchell (2007). A History of News. Third edition. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195189914