Talking About the News in English
We often talk and comment about the news in conversation with other people. Here are some English phrases you can use to refer to the news and to give your opinion about how it's reported.
Introducing the subject
Have you seen the story about...?
Have you heard about the guy who...?
Did you read the story of...?
I've just read about...
The paper's reporting a story about...
Commenting on a news item you're reading
Wait til you hear this!
I can't believe this...
You'll never believe it, but...
Headlines and announcements
In both newspapers and on TV news, headlines in English are frequently in a present tense. This is because we consider the news to be happening almost now.
"Man dies in fire." (Newspaper heading.)
"A man has died in a house fire caused by a faulty gas oven." (Announcement on TV news.)
When we comment on the news, we also often use a present tense, such as the present perfect.
They've just said on the news that...
They've just announced...
Remember: when we give more detail about the story, we move to past tenses and reported speech:
They've just said that a man was killed in a house fire. Apparently it started when ... The fire brigade said that the man had bought the gas oven from ...
(See our page on reported speech for more information on how to form it.)
Judging the news
If we have a negative opinion of how the news is reported, we can say:
That's just sensationalist!
They should check their facts!
I think they're completely biased.
They shouldn't be allowed to say / write things like this!
You shouldn't believe everything you read in the paper!
If we have a positive opinion, we can use adjectives like well-balanced, fair (reporting), objective, impartial, or in-depth.
"The World Today" usually has well-balanced coverage of the news.
There's some very fair reporting about the protests.
"News at Nine" is usually objective / impartial.
This is a really in-depth article about the economy.
Useful verbs to talk about the news
to report (to report a story, to report that...)
to announce (announce a result, announce a decision)
to state (= more formal equivalent of "say)
to go on the record as saying (to say something publicly)
to be off the record (to not be "official")
to leak (to make public certain information which should be confidential - especially political strategy)
to publish (publish findings, publish the results of a survey, publish financial results)
to publicise (make something public, often to increase awareness - publicise the risks, publicise a new film)
to broadcast (a TV channel broadcasts programmes)
Talking About The News Exercise
Choose the correct answer.
- Remember - you ''hear about'' something, not ''listen''.
- Remember: you ''tell'' a person, but ''say'' something.
- With extreme adjectives (like ''terrible'') you don't need ''very''.
- Although both ''just'' and ''already'' mean ''before now'', they have important differences when you talk about the news. ''Just'' means ''only very recently'', so you probably don't have all the details and would like more information. (So you're encouraging the other person to continue.) But ''already'' means you know all about the story, so saying it can sound as if you don't want to hear any more. It can even make you sound bored!
- We can say both ''I don't know if you know'' and ''I don't know if you've heard''. We use these expressions when we're talking about someone or something that we both know, like a mutual friend or a situation at work.
- Saying ''I didn't know'' or ''That's news to me'' can encourage the other person to say more.
- What do you think about...? = What's your opinion about...?
- We use ''believe'' when the news is shocking to us.
- This is useful if you don't really know what to say. (''Wonder'' = ask yourself questions about it.)
- If you say something like ''Really?'' or ''Oh yeah?'' with your voice rising at the end, you are showing interest and encouraging the other person to continue.
See also How to express shock in English for useful phrases when you hear about natural disasters or bad news.
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