Basics of News Writing

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Basics of News Writing

  1. 1. Basics of News Writing Compiled by Ariel Dizon
  2. 2. What is News Writing? News writing gives the reader information that will have an impact on them in some way. It usually flows from most important to least important. “What is news? It is information only.” –Walter Cronkite, former CBS News anchor
  3. 3. Structures of News Story  Headline
  4. 4. Structures of News Story  Byline
  5. 5. Structures of News Story  Lead
  6. 6. Structures of News Story  Body (Details)
  7. 7. News Writing Most interesting or most important Least interesting or least important Inverted Pyramid  The Inverted Pyramid of news suggests that news be told in order of most interesting or important to least interesting or important
  8. 8. News Writing  Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. vs.  Jack suffered a skull fracture and Jill is in serious condition after the pair tumbled down a hill during their ritual water-carrying chores yesterday.
  9. 9. News Writing  The Newark Valley boys’ baseball squad played a game yesterday afternoon. vs.  The Newark Valley boys’ baseball squad beat Candor at home yesterday in a thrilling extra-inning showdown between neighboring rivals.
  10. 10. News Writing Most Important or Interesting Least Important or Interesting
  11. 11. Lead Writing  Most journalists think the news lead is the most important part of the news story. It is an art work of concise information that captures the gist of a news story in one or two sentences.
  12. 12. Purposes of LEAD  To summarize the story.  To arouse the interest of the readers.
  13. 13. Lead Writing  1. Keep leads short. Those with 35 words or less are preferred.  2. Leads limited to one or two sentences are preferred.  3. Avoid starting leads with "when" or "where" unless the time or place is unusual. Most leads start with "who" or "what."
  14. 14. Lead Writing  4. Avoid beginning leads with "there" or "this."  5. In leads about future events, the time, day (date) and place usually go at the end of the paragraph.  6. Use quote and question leads sparingly.
  15. 15. Lead Writing  7. In leads about past events, the day (date) of the event usually appears before or after the verb. Sometimes the day (date) comes at the end of the first sentence or the paragraph if it is a onesentence lead.  8. The first five to "what happened" makes a better story than the fact it did.
  16. 16. Lead Writing  Who? — Dr. Maria Elsa Ilona Bulado and Justine Bulado presented a research paper in the 12th Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences in Honolulu, Hawaii, May 29-June 1. The two are faculty members of NORSU main campus.  What? — Wearing morally offensive attire was banned in Negros Oriental State University by the University Security Management Office (USMO) effective June 10.
  17. 17. Lead Writing  Where? — In Newark Valley last night, the board of education passed a resolution to ban the wearing of hats in all school district buildings.  When? — Last night, the Newark Valley Board of Education passed a resolution banning hat wearing in all school district buildings.
  18. 18. Lead Writing  How? — By a 6-1 margin last night, the Newark Valley Board of Education passed a resolution banning hat wearing in all school district buildings.  Why? — To provide Norsunians easier access to web, the Negros Oriental State University -Communication and Information System Office (NORSU-CISO) will implement its Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) Connectivity Project in MC I and II in the second semester of SY 2013-2014.
  19. 19. Body Construction and Organization  The body of the story explains or clarifies features found in the lead or add features not found in the lead.  The body of the story provides details and background
  20. 20. Body Construction and Organization  Keep paragraphs short. Those limited to 60 words or less or no longer than 10 typeset lines are preferred.  Paragraphs limited to one to three sentences are preferred.  Each paragraph should contain only one idea.  Remember short paragraphs encourage readers to continue reading.  Use simple words. Don’t let readers look for dictionary.
  21. 21. Body Construction and Organization  Make sure information introduced or outlined in the lead is covered in the same order in the body of the story.  Avoid introducing new information at the end of a story. All aspects of a story should usually be introduced or outlined in the first few paragraphs.  Transitions are necessary to show the reader that the writer has a sense of direction. A word, phrase, sentence or paragraph can move the reader from one thought to another.
  22. 22. Body Construction and Organization Add attributions of prominent persons Add faculty and students’ reactions Arrange your details in logical order Before using the acronym of the word or phrase, elaborate it first on the previous sentences  In attribution, use the position of the person (other titles may be omitted)    
  23. 23. Body Construction and Organization Note: When you want to incorporate information which is not directly connected to the main story, but is related, use conjunctive words or conjunctive phrase such as meanwhile, in a related development, in this light, etc.
  24. 24. Transition/Quote Formula and so on…until the story is complete
  25. 25. Direct Quotes  Should be linked to the paragraph before them. The quote should elaborate on the previous paragraph. Example: Because of an anonymous $25,000 donation, students who ride a school bus to and from school will have access to the Internet during their commute starting March 1. “Giving free Wi-Fi to our students will enable them to do research, read the news or even watch educational videos each day,” Superintendent Kelli Putman said.
  26. 26. Direct Quotes  Should not repeat the transition/lead before them. Example: Principal Jeanette Rother said that several teachers have been reluctant to give assignments that require Internet access. “Several of our teachers have been hesitant about giving homework assignments that would require the Internet,” Rother said.
  27. 27. Direct Quotes  Can be longer than one sentence.  Should have attribution after the first sentence of the quote.  Do not place two people’s direct quotes next to each other without a transition.  Attribution should be: Noun then verb. Example: Correct - senior Bob Rodriguez said. Incorrect - said senior Bob Rodriguez. (unless you have an unusually long title)
  28. 28. Transitions  VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. Hold the story together. Link the paragraphs together.  Can be fact, indirect quote or a partial quote. For example - FACT TRANSITION: (Lead) President Barack Obama will speak on Friday to seniors about getting involved in community service work. (Direct Quote)“Seniors will learn a lot about duty and commitment when they hear President Obama,” Principal Ike Sumter said. “We are so excited that he agreed to come.” (Fact Transition) Before becoming president, Obama worked as a community organizer in Chicago.
  29. 29. Transitions  Can be fact, indirect quote or a partial quote. For example - INDIRECT QUOTE TRANSITION: (Lead) President Barack Obama will speak on Friday to seniors about getting involved in community service work. (Direct Quote)“Seniors will learn a lot about duty and commitment when they hear President Obama,” Principal Ike Sumter said. “We are so excited that he agreed to come.” (IQ Transition) President Obama said he believes community service is more important than college in building character.
  30. 30. Transitions  Can be fact, indirect quote or a partial quote. For example - PARTIAL QUOTE TRANSITION: (Lead) President Barack Obama will speak on Friday to seniors about getting involved in community service work. (Direct Quote)“Seniors will learn a lot about duty and commitment when they hear President Obama,” Principal Ike Sumter said. “We are so excited that he agreed to come.” (PQ Transition) President Obama said he believes community service is “extremely valuable lesson” for every teen to have.
  31. 31. Transitions  Use transitional words to help with the flow (as needed): After all, Also, Finally, In addition, However, Otherwise, Then For example: In addition to speaking about community service, Obama plans to talk to students about the importance of voting. NOTE: BE SURE YOU USE THE APPROPRITE TRANSITIONAL WORD.
  32. 32. Transitions  Use parts of the direct quotes to create the transition. And then use the rest of the quote as direct quote.
  33. 33. Needed to avoid  Editorializing - Keep your opinion out of the story.  Using first and second person - Keep yourself out of the story. Common error: “our school”.  Messy handwriting, poor grammar and spelling  Too long paragraphs  Misspelling names in the story  Trying to use all of the information
  34. 34. Editing  Eliminate the word "that" whenever possible.  Eliminate the "be" verb. Write "she will resign" instead of "she will be resigning. "Write in future tense (will) instead of future progressive tense (will be "ing").  Avoid the contractions of he'd and they'd. "He'd" can mean both "he had" and "he would," and "they'd" can mean both "they had" and "they would."
  35. 35. Editing  Always double-check the spelling of names.  Make sure numbers match the items listed.  Make sure "only" is placed properly in a sentence. The location of "only" can change the meaning of a sentence.
  36. 36. Editing  Read the story out loud to catch awkward sentence constructions.  Write. Rewrite. Revise. Rewrite. Revise. Edit. Revise. Edit. Edit. The first version of a story is NOT good enough to go into print. Someone once said THERE IS NO GREAT WRITING, ONLY GREAT REWRITING.
  37. 37. Grammar  When you use a pronoun to refer to a team or a group, the proper pronoun to use is "its," NOT they. Example: The team wants to improve its record.  Make sure verbs or other phrases are "parallel" or the same in structure when they appear in stories or list.  Examples: He likes gardening, fishing and hunting. The fire killed at least 12 persons, injured 60 more and forced scores of residents to leap from windows.
  38. 38. Grammar  Use THIRD PERSON (she, he, it, its, her, hers, him, his, they, them, their, theirs) in news stories. Only on rare occasions do you use first person (I, mine, we, our, ours) or second person (you, your, yours) in news stories.  Use active voice vs. passive voice. The passive voice is formed by using some form of the verb "be" with the past participle of an action verb: is shot, was shot, has been shot, had been shot, may be shot, will be shot.
  39. 39. Other points to consider  Avoid using the same word twice in a sentence.  Count the words in a story's sentences. Sentence length should vary. Stories become dull when sentences are all the same length.  Quotation marks go outside commas (,") and periods (."). They go inside semicolons (";) and colons (":).  You can use TRANSITION WORDS to show coherence from one paragraph to another. Examples: meanwhile, on the other hand, moreover
  40. 40. Headline Writing  A headline is an abstract sentence  A headline will determine the angle of the story  Usually it is only five to ten words  It is a complete thought  It has a subject and a verb, and often an object
  41. 41. Headline Writing  Be specific, direct and to the point.  Write headlines, not titles. A headline must state a benefit to the target audience.
  42. 42. Headline Writing  Functions of Headline:  To attract readers  To tell the story (in summary)
  43. 43. Headline Writing     Limit your headline to maximum of 10 words Use “,” instead of the word “and” Use the present tense of the verb Use the shortest words possible: cop-policeman nab-arrest up-increase down-decrease vs-against stude-student join-participate prexy-president
  44. 44. Headline Writing  Use historical present tense if the verb is in the active verb Wrong: Reyes topped editorial tilt Correct: Reyes tops editorial tilt  Avoid helping verb if the verb is in the passive verb Wrong: Drug pushers are nabbed Correct: Drug pushers nabbed
  45. 45. Headline Writing  Use infinitive verb for future event: Wrong: NORSU will enjoy WiFi connectivity Correct: NORSU to enjoy WiFi connectivity  Do not use a period at the end of the headline  Omit the articles ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’  Use single quotes (‘’) instead of double quotes (“”)  Provide the source of the quote at the end of the headline Ex: Crackdown on errant bus firms–Enrile
  46. 46. Headline Writing  Do not use a person’s surname unless he/she is prominent, use common noun instead Wrong: Repe wins nat’l painting tilt Correct: NORSU stude wins nat’l painting tilt  Use specific verb instead of generalities Wrong: Trader killed Better: Trader stabbed to death  Just report facts; do not editorialize Wrong: Pnoy gives inspiring talk (The word “inspiring’ is an opinion)
  47. 47. THANK YOU!!! “There is no great writing; only great rewriting.” -Nick Joaquin  Sources: ***‘Hot 100’ News Writing Tips of Sheryl Swingley ***News Writing PPT Presentation by Romulo Amarado

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