Can’t we just have some real News in Literature instead of this nonsense that passes for news? Some of it is good, and some of it is bad. Examples of News in Literature include passages that compare President Obama’s economic stimulus plan to the Old Testament parable of the Rich Man’s Prodigies, which President Obama actually quoted in his recent State of the Union speech. A country divided against itself, unable to stand idly by while another member of the subdivided nation attacks the other, cannot stand silently by while that other member eats supper.
In the news, as in life, sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you. What President Obama probably failed to understand, however, was the difference between informing the American people and announcing news and opinion, which are what the New York Times does, along with many of the other major media outlets. Reporting news as opposed to news, and reporting news as being news can be a mistake, and sometimes it is simply reporting whatever is in the news at that moment or that day. But in the field of literature, and the field of journalism in particular, news is news, without exception, and any time you report the news you are reporting an opinion, and if you believe in objectivity, you should consider yourself a great writer.
Here is another good example. In 1843, after the French Revolution occurred in France, the Jacobin journalists were accused of disseminating false information. While some newspapers and magazines were guilty of merely luring their readers with tall tales, and while there were indeed some lurers in that volatile environment, the accusation was not so widely made. On the other hand, a very similar situation arose in England in the same year, when in the House of Commons a MP stated that, “I have much news to tell you, but not much news to ask.” It is easy to see that both these statements are indeed not making the same point, and in both cases one can be guilty of both lying and misleading the public.
News is essentially information that changes the world. In other words, news is literally a change in the world as observed by many different observers. For example, during World War I, millions upon millions of leaflets were dropped by planes all over the United Kingdom, and hundreds of millions more were broadcasted into areas of the country that were inaccessible by any means save for the dropping of the leaflets. This was of particular value because it allowed soldiers to know when and where they were expected to arrive home. Of course, those of us who were on the frontline, where we got the daily assurance from the wireless operators that our units were there, saw this news as a particularly important part of that war.
Now, let’s say, for argument sake, that we have a rare, unique, high quality news program, such as an award-winning investigative radio show, or a movie that won an Oscar. In either of these cases, there is an undeniable news value to what is being said. In both of these cases, the listeners’ knowledge of the event is paramount. If the public cannot be reached, no one will pay attention, and the rest of the event will be forgotten the next day.
So how do we know when something is newsworthy, especially if it is something that many listeners would describe as “irregular”? Asking six questions about a story is the best way to decide: Does this story illustrate the real point, is the story outside of normal range, does it make important sense, does it deserve to be mentioned? And, if so, does it deserve to be reported as being newsworthy? Rare events or unusual developments become newsworthy when the public notices them through the mediums chosen; however, no matter how important the event is, the public needs to know it has been covered before jumping to conclusions or passing it by as insignificant.