Why we write news

One of the many woes that comes from young people’s abandonment of newspapers is that far too many of them haven’t got a clue what news is anymore.
So let’s take a quick look at news.
News is, at its root, a story about what’s new. It can be a thrilling story or a dull one, depending on who’s writing it and, to an extent, what it’s about. It’s hard, for example, to write a gripping tale about the changing price of cattle futures from day to day — unless a reporter happens to find someone who made, or lost, a bundle on them. But for the mainstream press — which includes The Tattoo — news generally aims to tell something interesting, not just potentially useful.
News can be written with verve, even with spunk, but it has to be fair to all sides. It has to try to tell the truth about the story, to give an honest account of what happened and why. It relies on what witnesses, officials and experts tell reporters, who have to talk to everyone they can in the time they have and then pare it all down into a story that informs readers about something that matters. It gives the who, what, where, when and why, but it also should find the hook to make it all matter to a harried reader.
At The Tattoo, we mostly focus on news that young people would find most interesting, but our readers obviously include all ages.
So what’s the difference between news and opinion? Sometimes, not all that much, if the writer isn’t particularly opinionated. But the idea of an opinion piece is to try to convince readers of a particular point of view. A news story tries instead to lay out the facts in an unbiased way so that readers can draw their own conclusions.
It’s harder to write news than it is to tap out a column or a personal essay because news is not about the person who writes the story. It’s about the story itself. Reporters are only visible to the degree they’re good, or bad, at what they do.
But what writing news does is unimaginably important for anyone who believes in democracy. News stories are the only source of information that even attempt to say what’s happening without bias, partisanship or an agenda to push. It’s the vital, beating heart of a free society.
And it should alarm everyone, old and young, that it’s getting harder and harder to find legitimate news in the morasse of sloppy information that permeates the web.
At The Tattoo, we’re trying to uphold the standards and values of the golden age of newsapers, to teach young writers that writing a good news story is ultimately more valuable than churning out more entertainment goo.
The Tattoo is about more than news, naturally. But writing news is why we’re here. It’s what our writers need to master. It’s what makes The Tattoo special. News is our thing. We just need more of it.

Our official policy: We hate blogs.
Copyright 2007 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.

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