|Writing a news story|
Thursday, 21 February 2008 13:45
It’s about telling a story, concisely and quickly, and anyone can learn to do this by following a few simple steps. Defining news is a relatively easy task. News is an accurate account of what is happening around us. It may involve new projects, current events, or ongoing initiatives and issues.
As citizen journalists you will choose stories from the plethora of information and events happening in your areas and communities. Stories are chosen because of their importance, impact, interest and relevance.
To write an effective news story, the following questions need to be answered:
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
A good story will answer all of these questions. Who is the story about? What do they do? Where is it happening? When is it happening? Why is it happening? How are they making it happen?
Your first paragraph should be a summary of the entire story, giving all the most salient facts. It should give the reader a good overview of all the important information. The rest of your article will expand on these points and offer any necessary explanations.
News stories are often about how individuals or businesses are affected. In your story, you will probably spend some time focusing on one or more individuals. Make sure you are speaking to the right people. Make sure what they have to say is relevant. Check, check, check and check your sources again.
Find an angle – stories should be written using a particular angle or "slant". This will make the purpose of your story clear and give it focus. Decide what is most important or interesting and make that your angle.
Keep your story objective - as a journalist, you have to be totally impartial. If there is more than one side to the story, present it. Always give a right of reply to the other side. Don’t use ‘I’ and ‘me’ unless you are quoting someone. Never misquote anyone in your story.
Don’t be verbose – keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Avoid flowery and heavily descriptive language. Avoid hyperbole. Once finished, read through and take out any words that are not totally necessary. Always keep your writing clean and uncluttered, be direct.
Remember that you are the eyes and ears of the reader. You are a narrator and a story teller, tell the reader what you think they want to know. Don’t be afraid to rewrite – more than once if necessary. Avoid run-on sentences. Always ask yourself what the story is about, and make sure you understand it. If you don’t, the chances are your reader won’t either.
Finally, check your grammar and spelling. There really is no excuse for sloppy spelling and loose grammar. As a citizen journalist you have a responsibility towards maintaining a professional standard. If you’re unsure, ask.
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