Hard news story (chronicle of current event/incident) like District News
Soft news story (not time-sensitive)
Feature story (explores an issue)
Parts of a story
- Hard news (summarizes, draws in reader)
- Soft news (grabs attention of reader, somewhat literary style)
Parts of a story
- Factual data, opinions of people, a narrative to help story flow.
- No editorializing
Seek the 5 “W”s
Good story always has the 5 "W's" of journalism ( who, what, where, when and why )
Information should be in descending order of importance
Helps quitting story reading any time without losing essence
Enables cutting story from bottom
THE VILLAIN : We assume people know and understand everything – so leave the basics out
FIND THE CORE
Determine the single most important thing :
Inverted pyramid :
Creating a story
An accident occurred yesterday. Today is tuesday. It was a car accident. It happened in Murfreesboro where Main Street and Broad Street intersect. One person was killed. The person was John Frazier. He was 20 years old and lived in Murfreesboro at 212 Moore Court. He was driving a blue 1998 Ford Mustang. He was driving northwest on Broad Street at about 5 p.m. He lost control of the car. It was raining, and the road was slick. He was also driving about 20 mph over the speed limit. He was the only one in the car. The car smashed into a utility pole along Broad Street. The impact crushed the whole front of the car. Frazier was thrown through the car's windshield. He landed on the pavement some 20 feet away. He wasn't wearing a seat belt. He was killed instantly.
The man, 20-year-old John Frazier of 212 Moore Court, lost control of his blue 1998 Ford Mustang around 5 p.m. while heading northwest on Broad Street at about 20 mph over the speed limit.
Picks up one of the lead elements for elaboration
Skidding on the wet pavement, the car struck a utility pole along Broad Street. The impact threw Frazier through the windshield and onto the pavement some 20 feet away.
Frazier, who was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, died instantly. The pole crushed the front of the Mustang.
Can be chopped off without losing important information.
So where does this lead us?
Our primary objective should be to present serious news in a sober way, yet without being dull.
Use language that is formal without being stuffy, and respectable and respectful without being stiff or reverential
Keep the reader audience in mind
Simple = Core + Compact
How to pack a lot of punch into a compact communication
Writing a good story
Carefully research and study your subject matter
Think very carefully, WHAT you are going to say and HOW you are going to say it.
Strive always for Simplicity; Clarity & Elegance
Always put yourself in the position of the reader
Parts of a story
There are three main parts of any story
Your story should have an introduction. This introduces the reader to the subject.
Then the main body of the story which comprises most of an article.
This then leads logically to a final deduction or conclusion. This is essentially a summary of all the main points mentioned before.
Answer these first
Your story should answer the five questions of a very inquisitive person:
Headline & your first words are of vital importance to grab your reader's attention
Progress logically, naturally and smoothly from one to another, so that they lead to a conclusion.
Have a strong summary to round off
Repeat your point …… but for effect!
Six don’ts of a good story
Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print
Never use a long word where a short word will do
If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out
Never use the passive where you can use the active
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything is outright barbarous
Should be precise and not exaggerated
Contains an active verb
Use everyday words rather than journalese
Favour short words over long ones
Headlines should NOT be ambiguous
Should contain nouns that could be read as verbs and vice versa
Should not be judgmental rather be attributed
Subheads are not quiet headlines
Should form a fully grammatical phrase, or phrases, which when read aloud sound natural
Should always read like a conversational sentence explaining what the story is about (containing, as appropriate, words such as: is, and, the, a).
If the subhead is a long one, finding a way to punctuate it is a good idea.
Intros must grab readers' attention - and keep it.
Long phrases reduce impact; long sentences can kill intros.
Two short sentences are often better than one
A full stop is often preferable to a comma or three.
Avoid subordinate clauses between commas
Dashes can clutter up an opening sentence
Finally - if the intro really needs the length to explain what's going on in a snap to the reader, then give it the length, rather than write a short intro that sounds absolutely ‘barbarous’
A paragraph is essentially a unit of thought, not of length
It must be homogeneous in subject matter and sequential in treatment.
It is okay for paragraphs to be more than one sentence long, but far too often the wrong sentences are joined into paragraphs.
It renders colour to stories that otherwise would not have much life.
But misused, they can make a story horrible.
Always introduce a speaker to the reader before using their quote, e.g. Mr Singh, senior division manager of AB Corporation, said he had no idea why the dispute was being thrown into his lap. "This is beyond my jurisdiction," he said.
Make sure the quotes are in the right context
Use acronyms & abbreviations if commonly known
Age should follow a name and in figures enclosed by commas, e.g.: Priyanka Chopra, 24, an actress from Mumbai
Use apostrophes for single quotation marks to set off a quote within a quote, e.g.: Singh said: "People shouted `run', so I ran.”
Use only single quotation marks in headlines. Use double quotation marks in captions
Do not just write "sources" diplomatic sources (diplomats), ministerial sources (ministers), official sources (officials).
There is no need to clutter up a person's title with brackets. Take them out and substitute "for" or "of“, e.g. Assistant Commissioner (policy and planning) becomes Assistant Commissioner for policy and planning
Avoid ‘unnecessary’ words…
Some are patently obvious, others less blatant, all should be avoided ( redundant words are in brackets)
(absolute) perfection; (acute) crisis; (added) bonus; all (of); appear (on the scene); appear (to be); appreciate (in value); (awkward) predicament; best (ever); blue (coloured); book (in advance); bought (up); (business) tycoon; connect (up)/connect (together); (broad) consensus; consensus (of opinion); cut (back); divide (up); eliminate (altogether); (end) product/(end) result; equally (as); face (up to); (final) settlement; headed (up); (historical) legacy; HIV (virus) (what does the v stand for, then?); (in) between; (less) essential; lend (out); link (together); (live) audience; (major) breakthrough; (material) breach; meet (with) someone; (mutual) co-operation; (new) departure/(new) record; (old) adage
Conquering the comma
Where the comma is placed completely changes the meaning of the sentence. Commas are used to sort out the meaning
Listen for the pause when you read.
All punctuation marks were made to help readers read more clearly and with meaning.
A comma is used for lists , additional information, and separating dialogue from non dialogue
A comma CAN introduce confusion
Finally, the proof reading…
Requires seeing copy as ‘new’
Makes judgment calls difficult
Check grammar, facts, style deviations, surface repair work and fixing other mistakes
Look for common errors: wrong punctuation, clumsy sentence construction, tense inconsistency, other common grammar errors, underset/overset copy & spelling errors