How exactly should we define ‘news’?   

  1. News is more than a factal account of some memorable happenings

On hearing of Napoleon’s death, Madame Crawford wailed, ‘Oh, good God! What an event.’ French statesman Maurice de Talleyrand corrected her with the comment, ‘It is no longer an event. It is only a bit of news.’ However, now several centuries later, it is no longer even news but, as newspaper publisher Philip L. Graham remarked, ‘News is the first draft of history.’ So, events can become news, briefly, then some news events become history.

  1. News can tell us things that are out of the ordinary

As John B. Bogart, editor of New York Sun newspaper in the nineteenth century once remarked: ‘When a dog bites a man, that is not news. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.’

So not every event becomes news . . .because:

  1. News must be correct and relevant

When I was a teenage lad attending a gospel mission being conducted in a large tent I learned a song that the Scottish evangelist had brought back from the West Indies:

Whene’er friends meet they often say,

‘What’s the news, what’s the news?

Say, what’s the order of the day,

What’s the news, what’s the news?’

Oh I have got good news to tell,

My Saviour has done all things well,

And triumphed over death and hell

That’s the news, that’s the news.’

Firsthand witnesses can tell us what may escape radio and television coverage; but beware of gossip via mobile phones.

  1. News can report matters good or awful

The news of the death of Napoleon seemed dreadful to Madame Crawford, but the tidings of Hitler’s suicide was music to our ears in Britain in my childhood. The word gospel comes from Old English ‘good spiel’, good news. Proverbs put on record that ‘Like a drink of cool water to a weary, thirsty soul, so hearing good news revives the spirit.’ (The Passion Translation).

However, we must beware that we don’t just believe what we want to be true.

  1. ‘News is what someone, somewhere doesn’t want published’, according to Lord Northgate, founder of the Daily Mail, adding: ‘all the rest is advertising.’

Luke chapter 2 and Matthew chapter 2 bear out that idea as correct about the Chrisitan gospel. Angels brought ‘glad tidings [ =good news] of great joy . . . to all peoples’ about Jesus’ birth, and Herod wanted not merely to suppress the announcement, but to eradicate him!

Enough said! As an advocate in court might conclude his arguments, ‘I rest my case.’


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