News is information about current events. Journalists provide news through many different media, based on word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting, electronic communication, and also on their own testimony, as witnesses of relevant events.
Common topics for news reports include war, government, politics, education, health, the environment, economy, business, and entertainment, as well as athletic events, quirky or unusual events. Government proclamations, concerning royal ceremonies, laws, taxes, public health, criminals, have been dubbed news since ancient times. Humans exhibit a nearly universal desire to learn and share news, which they satisfy by talking to each other and sharing information. Technological and social developments, often driven by government communication and espionage networks, have increased the speed with which news can spread, as well as influenced its content. The genre of news as we know it today is closely associated with the newspaper, which originated in China as a court bulletin and spread, with paper and printing press, to Europe.
The 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, the Bulgarian novini, and Russian novosti — and in the Celtic languages: the Welsh newyddion (from newydd) and the Cornish nowodhow (from nowydh). Jessica Garretson Finch is credited with coining the phrase "current events" while teaching at Barnard College in the 1890s.
As its name implies, "news" typically connotes the presentation of new information. The newness of news gives it an uncertain quality which distinguishes it from the more careful investigations of history or other scholarly disciplines. Whereas historians tend to view events as causally related manifestations of underlying processes, news stories tend to describe events in isolation, and to exclude discussion of the relationships between them. News conspicuously describes the world in the present or immediate past, even when the most important aspects of a news story have occurred long in the past—or are expected to occur in the future. To make the news, an ongoing process must have some "peg", an event in time which anchors it to the present moment. Relatedly, news often addresses aspects of reality which seem unusual, deviant, or out of the ordinary. Hence the famous dictum that "Dog Bites Man" is not news, but "Man Bites Dog" is.