Writing a News Story

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A popular way to receive information in today’s day in age is through the news. — Photo Courtesy of Google Images

 

When writing a news story, the piece should answer the questions of who? what? where? when? why? and how? while being concise and directly to the point. According to Media College, news stories are not long and are designed to inform reader rather than just entertain them. Writers must remember a principal of informative news writing called the inverted pyramid. This concept explains the idea of having the most information about the newsworthy topic discussed in the first paragraphs. These paragraphs should give the reader a general overview of the story without having to read the whole way to the end. This is very important because statistically, readers who are reading a story with a “jump” or that is continued on a page internally, will not continue on to finish the piece.

Purdue’s OWL writing website also had many suggestions for writing a news story or a journalistic piece of writing. They recommend also using the 5 Ws and the H but they also suggest constructing a lead. A lead in the beginning of a news story that possesses more a basic summary of the information, as well as answers the 3 most important W questions of who, what, and where. Purdue also mentions that printed newspapers are moving to more analytical pieces of why and how rather than breaking news pieces possessing the other Ws. This is because of the major demand for online media and the ability to post more hard news right as it happens. A news lead could also be considered to be part of the inverted pyramid concept.

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The weapon of choice for many writers —–Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Jim Hall, a contributor to a site on beginning journalism for VCU states that the inverted pyramid doesn’t encourage the best writing. Hall supports this argument with the fact that some of the stories using the inverted pyramid technique do not have a well crafted ending. Many of these stories simply just end. This leave reporters with a lack of interest and energy in the piece. Hall suggests writing with an hourglass structure. This allows the writer to combine the information lay-out of the inverted pyramid but combine it with a follow-up summary of the information at the end of the piece. He feels this structure encourages a better ending and a storytelling style that keeps readers engaged in the retelling of the event.

According to a contribution to a site developed by Johns Hopkins, an interview is also a highly recommended piece for a news story. Hopkins suggests talking to a person and collecting their account can deeply enhance a story. They suggest preparing questions, taking notes, and making a set appointment to meet with a person is key to a successful interview process. Hopkins also suggests researching content while developing a story. This can be used in developing interview questions as well.

A news story, while seeming very simple, is filled with structures and elements that can create a rather complex work for a reader to enjoy.

Sources:
http://www.mediacollege.com/journalism/news/write-stories.html
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/05/
http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG-jeh/BeginningReporting/Writing/writing.htm
http://www.jhuapl.edu/education/elementary/newspapercourse/forstudents/tips.htm
http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/journalism1/journalism-writing-the-hard-news-story/
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