Most large cities in the United States historically had morning and afternoon newspapers. As the media evolved and news outlets increased to the point of near over-saturation, most afternoon newspapers were shut down. Morning newspapers have been gradually losing circulation, according to reports advanced by the papers themselves. Commonly, news content should contain the “Five Ws” (who, what, when, where, why, and also how) of an event. There should be no questions remaining. Newspapers normally place hard news stories on the first pages, so the most important information is at the beginning. Busy readers can read as little or as much as they desire. Local stations and networks with a set format must take news stories and break them down into the most important aspects due to time constraints. Cable news channels such as BBC News, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, are able to take advantage of a story, sacrificing other, decidedly less important stories, and giving as much detail about breaking news as possible.
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.