Common topics for news reports include war, government, politics, education, health, the environment, economy, business, fashion, 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.To make the news, an ongoing process must have some "peg", an event in time which anchors it to the present moment.

Visible chains of long distance signaling, known as optical telegraphy, have also been used throughout history to convey limited types of information.

These can have ranged from smoke and fire signals to advanced systems using semaphore codes and telescopes. China, where reports gathered by officials were eventually compiled as the Spring and Autumn Annals.

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.

Starting in England, coffeehouses served as important sites for the spread of news, even after telecommunications became widely available.

In the Muslim world, people have gathered and exchanged news at mosques and other social places.Town criers were a common means of conveying information to citydwellers.In thirteenth-century Florence, criers known as banditori arrived in the market regularly, to announce political news, to convoke public meetings, and to call the populace to arms.Travelers on pilgrimages to Mecca traditionally stay at caravanserais, roadside inns, along the way, and these places have naturally served as hubs for gaining news of the world.The first documented use of an organized courier service for the diffusion of written documents is in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers for the diffusion of their decrees in the territory of the State (2400 BC)..Thus, political, religious, and commercial interests have historically controlled, expanded, and monitored communications channels by which news could spread.