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Eight Elements of News
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News reporting

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News reporting

  2. 2. STORYTELLING Stories don’t exist. They happen. A story is an event, not an object. It exists in time, not space. It’s a performance. It’s often about people. It’s an experience for those receiving it – the readers, listeners & viewers.
  3. 3. STORYTELLING Every real story has at least six elements: 1: a setting 2: one or more characters 3: some sort of complication 4: a process of responding to such complication 5: a resolution 6: some sort of closure
  4. 4. STORYTELLING The classic Five Ws and one-H who what where
  5. 5. THE FIVE WS AND H Storytelling when why how
  6. 6. THE REPORTER’S SHOPPING LIST Setting: where and when. The mood and the scene of the story. It isn't just the location. It is total context of the story. Soak in all the details and write them down. Characters: who. Not just the main man but also others. Watch out for the central characters and the supporting ones too. Titles, mode of dressing, speeches, names (spelled correctly), physique, all the works. Show the characters and their character as they unfold in the story.
  7. 7. Complications: what! …and partly why! What happened or is happening? News is change, so what’s changed for the characters, when, where, and why? Process of responding/resolving: what happened next? Who did what and why? What did they say? How did they feel? Why? Good questions reveal more than meets the eye.
  8. 8. Resolution: how has the process of events resolved itself so far for the various characters involved? Most times reporters cannot wait for how the story ultimately ends when it breaks, but several follow-ups can be covered until….. Closure: this is the final what….so what? Where does this story fits in the broader context of our world or realty?
  9. 9. STORIES HAPPEN…. Remember: stories don’t exist; they happen. They’re events, not objects. Stories are more than text, graphics, pictures, etc. they are images in the memory – the minds and hearts of the people who reads, listens and views them. As a reporter you are the story teller. You’re the choreographer who designs the order of the sequence of the story so as to captivate the listener or reader or viewer. Reporters often begin with something that signals that what follows is worth attention – the story’s lead.
  10. 10. The lead is usually what’s newest or interesting or strange or most significant in the story unfolding.
  11. 11. DON’T GET TRAPPED BY THE STORY… There is a difference between story and myth. Look hard into the events you’re covering to find what’s really going on. Don’t jump into conclusion… Report only as much of the story as you’ve really gathered. Don’t fill in the blanks to round out the story. Don’t downplay or gloss over holes in the story. The story you’re telling is often the story of being told things by other people. Don’t drift into telling their stories as your own.
  12. 12. FINDING THE STORY One of the first steps is to see stories as adventures from people in your community. A reporter’s job is to find stories of adventure, mystery and entertainment. Besides the usual crime, fire, accidents and emergency stories, reporters can find great stories about new appointments, youth, lifestyle and trends,
  13. 13. FINDING THE STORY Where you are…..your community often have stories as you look around you with a curious eye at things others may overlook. What’s it like to watch people do their work – the unique, unusual or the notso-traditional. On-the-job profiles are often interesting. Most stories in this genre can be interesting if you approach them with an appreciation for what the workers are doing and a keen eye for detail.
  14. 14. FINDING THE STORY People are news Meetings are news Speeches are news News of accidents and death Sports Business, labour and agriculture Education, religion, government and politics Crime and the courts Science and health, arts and culture, etc. Neighborhood and places
  15. 15. TIPS FOR FINDING IDEAS IN NEIGHBORHOODS… Go to places where people are…bars, shops, markets, shopping malls, etc. Meet the people in power Meet the rest of the people Visit schools, churches, mosques, events, etc. Dig through records and documents Identify burning issues and controversies…
  16. 16. ON THE BEAT… Covering the community Covering the suburbs Covering government Covering law enforcement Covering courts Covering schools Covering sports Others…
  17. 17. RESEARCHING THE STORY …NEWS GATHERING METHODS Five principal methods to gather information for news stories:     Direct observation Interviewing Documents and records Social science techniques – data-driven stories…academic research, polls and survey, experiments and content analysis.  Library research: and Computer-Assisted reporting
  18. 18. THE INTERVIEW Types of interview:        the mini-interview or routine as in spot news coverage in-depth interviews Telephone interviews Press conferences. Adversarial interviews Personality profiles Background interviews.
  19. 19. THE INTERVIEW …PREPARING FOR INTERVIEWS Time spent preparing for an interview may make the difference between success and failure. There are three principal steps:  1. arranging the interview  2. defining its purpose  3. conducting background research The research effort enables the reporter to: -develop questions in advance, avoid confusion and delay during the interview -become armed with information that may convince the source to cooperate -prevent deception by the source, who will recognize that the interviewer is well informed.
  20. 20. THE INTERVIEW …CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW Flexibility is required The subject may not behave as anticipated and new tactics may be in order. The reporter’s objective is to control the interview, guiding its direction and tone. The reporter may be perceived as friend, accuser, confidant or interloper, skeptic or believer. The best role is the one likely to keep the source open and the reporter may shift role to get the best from the source. Most extended interviews follow a three-stage pattern: establish rapport, set the tone of the interview; fact gathering – the heart of the interview; and a conclusion – ending the interview possibly on a friendly note.
  21. 21. Questions that keep the interview flowing and guard against error have these qualities:     They are concise They are complete They are clear They don’t lead
  22. 22. …INTERVIEWER ERROR Appearance – clothing and mannerisms may offend source Question wording – complexity or ambiguity may make questions difficult or impossible to answer Question delivery – the style of the interviewer may intimidate of offend the source Interviewer expectations – the source may attempt to conform to expectations the interviewer conveys through words or cues Feedback – sources may be conditioned to give certain answers because interviewer gives positive feedback i.e. smiling.
  23. 23. REPORTING THE STORY Accuracy above all – is a mindset, an attitude When in doubt, double check… otherwise leave out Reporting demands courage! Take risks…when necessary Empathy is crucial…minimize hurt Be honest Be fair
  24. 24. REPORTERS AT WORK …THE PROCESS OF REPORTING Six steps News thinking 1: getting ideas Collect – reporting the story News thinking 2: Focus – what’s the news/what’s the story?
  25. 25. Order: mapping the story – do a plan Draft: write, revise and re-write Revise: edit your story and rewrite
  26. 26. STORY FORMS …SHAPING THE NEWS Inverted pyramid The hourglass The nut graf story The narrative The serial narrative The ‘five boxes’ approach. The trend piece The multiple-element story The wall street journal formula
  27. 27. THE INVERTED PYRAMID One popular form of writing taught to journalists is called the inverted pyramid format. This style is accomplished by imagining a triangle, point down. This triangle is your news item. At the top of the triangle-the wide base-is the most important information in the story. That is the first paragraph. When someone reads that first paragraph they should understand the facts of the event and the focus of the article, as well as whether or not they want to continue reading. Who, What, When, Where, How and Why should be included in this first paragraph, or "lead."
  28. 28. THE INVERTED PYRAMID …FROM THE TOP DOWN This news story form is perhaps the most widely used and accepted in journalism practice. It puts the most news worthy information at the top, and then the remaining information follows in order of importance, with the least important at the bottom end. The inverted pyramid organizes stories not around ideas or in sequence of happenings but around events and facts. It tells stories, weighs and shuffles the various facts focusing on their relative news value. In spite of its critics who say it tells stories backward, it remains invaluable as it takes the reader, who is often reading in a hurry, straight to the point.
  29. 29. THE HOURGLASS …SERVING THE NEWS, SERVING THE READER It is a combination of the inverted pyramid and the narrative forms. News writers who use the hourglass combine the inverted pyramid with narrative elements that contained the power of story telling. According Roy Peter Clark, its originator, this story form respects traditional news values, considers the needs of the reader, takes advantage of narrative, and spurs the writer to new levels of reporting and news writing.
  30. 30. The hourglass can be broken down into three parts:  The top which is presented in a summary lead followed by three or four paragraphs that answer the reader’s most pressing questions, containing the most significant information, just like the inverted pyramid does.  The turn signals the reader that a narrative, usually chronological is beginning. Usually the turn is a transitional phrase i.e. according to the police…, that contains attribution for the narrative that follows.  The narrative has three elements: a beginning, middle, and ending. It allows the writer to tell a chronological story complete with details, dialogue and background information.
  31. 31. THE NUT GRAF …GIVING READERS A REASON TO CARE Is also known as ‘the news feature’ or ‘the analytical feature. It is generally seen being used by the ‘Wall Street Journal’. It is called the nut graf because, like a nut, it contains the kernel or essential theme of the story. It invites readers into a story, often with an anecdote or scene, and then by the third or fourth paragraph provides context by summarizing the essence, or nut of the story’s theme. It often includes supporting material that helps readers see why the story is important.
  32. 32. It justifies the story by telling readers why they should care. It provides a transition from the lead and explains the lead and its connection to the rest of the story. It often tells readers why the story is timely. It includes supporting material to make readers see why the story is important. It is a paragraph that says what the whole story is about and why the reader should read it. It is a flag to the reader, high up in the story: you can decide to proceed or not, but if you read no further, you know what the story is about. As the name implies, nut grafs are a single paragraph long.
  33. 33. THE NARRATIVE …THE WAY WE TELL STORIES Narratives follow the chronological sequence often used in storytelling. Narratives have characters, settings, themes, conflicts, plots with climaxes and resolutions. Stories must be clear, non-fiction, and compelling. Narratives are detailed and their endings are often take you back to the beginning.
  34. 34. FIVE BOXES STORY It’s an approach used by veteran reporters to plan their news writing. It contains five boxes namely:      Lead Nut graf Re-telling BBI – ‘boring but important’ Kicker.
  35. 35. FIVE BOXES IS AN EFFICIENT WAY TO ORGANIZE INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY ON A DEADLINE. 1. Lead Image, detail, draws in reader. 2. Nut graf: Provides context 4. BBI: boring but important statistics/experts’ opinions 5. Kicker: Strong, interesting ending; quote; image. 3. Re-telling: retell story begun in the first box.
  36. 36. THE INVERTED PYRAMID Lead Supporting Paragraph Secondary Information Background Information
  37. 37. THE TREND PIECE Anecdotes that Illustrates trend Statistics that Clearly establish trend Speculation by experts On probable causes and Significance of trend Kicker, preferably Alluding to original Anecdote
  38. 38. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL FORMULA 1 Focus on Individual 4 Return to original focus Transition to Larger Issue Development of Larger issue 3 2
  39. 39. THE MULTIPLE ELEMENT STORY Multiple element Lead Element A Element B Development of Element A Development of Element B Bullets Element C Element D Element E Element F
  40. 40. REFERENCES: Sissons, H. (2006). Practical Journalism: How to write news. London: Sage Publications. Harper, C. and The Indiana Group. (1998). Journalism 2001. Boulder, Madison: CourseWise Publishing. Macdougall, C.D. (1977). Interpretative Reporting. 7th ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. Ismach, H.A. and Dennis, E.V. (1981). Reporting Processes and Practices: Newswriting for Today’s readers. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Co. Scanlan, C. (2000). Reporting and Writing: Basics for the 21st century. New York: Oxford University Press.
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