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Writing for Media - News Stories


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Published in: Education, News & Politics

Writing for Media - News Stories

  1. 1. Writing for the Mass Media UCSD Extension Mike Lawson 760/845-8146 [email_address]
  2. 2. Charactistics of News Stories <ul><li>All good pieces of writing have one thing in common: a unifying theme. </li></ul><ul><li>A central idea will usually be expressed in the first paragraph of the story - called the lead . </li></ul><ul><li>A strong lead will unify the writing for the reader. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Transitions <ul><li>Tying info together </li></ul><ul><li>Tips the reader as to what comes next </li></ul>
  4. 4. Types of Transitions <ul><li>Connectors - conjuctions (and, but, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Hooks - repeated words to unify story </li></ul><ul><li>Pronouns - use to avoid repeating things </li></ul><ul><li>Associations - using different words for the same idea (ex. p115) </li></ul><ul><li>Chronology - word or phrase refers to time </li></ul><ul><li>Enumeration - numbering items sequentially </li></ul>
  5. 5. Attribution <ul><li>Tells the reader where the information in the story came from. </li></ul><ul><li>Establishes news report’s credibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Verbs of attribution : (p.117) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Said • Declare </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Explain • Add </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Relate • Reveal </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Point out • Exclaim </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State • Assert </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Short Sentences, Short Paragraphs <ul><li>Get information to the reader as quickly as possible </li></ul><ul><li>Long paragraphs are difficult and daunting to read </li></ul>
  7. 7. Third Person <ul><li>News stories are usually written in the third person </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unless writer is a participant in an event </li></ul></ul><ul><li>News stories rarely address the reader by using second person - you </li></ul><ul><li>Editorializing - writer speaks in first person </li></ul>
  8. 8. Accuracy <ul><li>Accuracy is the core of the writing process. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhances credibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhances reliability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhances trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What good is a news story if it’s false? </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Inverted Pyramid <ul><li>Most common form of writing news stories (example: p.119) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most important items at top of story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lead (focal point of story) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Second paragraph expands/supports on lead </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Body adds details to information </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cut story from bottom if necessary to fit layout </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. The Lead <ul><li>Lead types: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Straight news lead (just the facts!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Summary lead (more than one major fact) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blind lead (people in story not named) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct address lead (writer speaks directly to reader) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Question lead (writer ask question) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct quote lead (uses direct quote) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Using Quotes <ul><li>Let’s the subject tell the story </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct quotes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indirect quotes/paraphrasing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use speaker’s exact words </li></ul><ul><li>Use direct quotes sparingly </li></ul><ul><li>Use direct quotes to supplement and clarify info presented in indirect quotes </li></ul><ul><li>Quote sequence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct quote - speaker - verb </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Other Story Structures <ul><li>Narrative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>chronological approach </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bullet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>several things happen at an event (bullet items) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Eyewitness Accounts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>reporter at an event </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reporter collaborates with eyewitness at event </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Micro-Macro </li></ul><ul><ul><li>issue to larger problem (person to big issue) </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. News Story Types <ul><li>Meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Speeches </li></ul><ul><li>Obituary </li></ul><ul><li>Weather </li></ul><ul><li>Crime and courts </li></ul><ul><li>Periodicals and anniversaries </li></ul>
  14. 14. Editing and Rewriting <ul><li>All writers need an editor </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First drafts are rarely satisfactory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Two types of editing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Copy-editing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rewriting </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Spelling, Grammar, Style <ul><li>Nothing more embarrassing to a writer than spelling and grammar mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>Watch out for style mistakes, too, for particular mediums </li></ul>
  16. 16. Verbs <ul><li>Quickest way to improve writing skills </li></ul><ul><li>Use active and descriptive verbs </li></ul><ul><li>Calls for a more powerful and interesting sentence </li></ul>
  17. 17. Writing Feature Stories <ul><li>Anecdotal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>uses facts to support the point of the story </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Suspended interest </li></ul><ul><ul><li>produces some special effect </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Profiles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>centers around a particular person </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Question and answer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Q&A </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Parts of a Feature Story <ul><li>4 parts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lead: builds interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engine paragraph: sets stage for story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Body: expands on details </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ending: tie it up in a bow (but have a point) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Finally… <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul>