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STORYTELLINGThe Newswriting Style
At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
1. Define news;
2. Id...
A relevant story based on facts that usually flows from the most
important to the least important
(LEAD) President Gloria Arroyo yesterday called on businessmen gathered
in Malacanang to help the government in its campai...
A2. WHAT Lead
Used when the
event or what
took place is more
important than the
person/s involved or
any of the other W’s
B9. EPIGRAM LEAD. Opens by quoting a common expression, verse, or epigram, at least familiar in the ...
Keep it short.
Newswriting is always
tight, but the lead calls
for special care.
Get to the point.
Quotes bring a story to life. Let your sources
tell the story. The reporter’s voice in ...
Name: _________________________________________________________________
Directions: Watch an ev...
Name _____________________________________________________________
Directions: After y...
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Newswriting for College Students


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Here is a copy of the lesson I taught to my campus journalism students during the first semester of S.Y. 2015-2016. It is, I think, an advance course as it does not delve deep into the basics of newswriting, rather it discusses a more advanced style of writing news stories.

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Newswriting for College Students

  1. 1. STORYTELLINGThe Newswriting Style OBJECTIVES At the end of the lesson, the students will be able to: 1. Define news; 2. Identify the structure of a news story; 3. Identify the characteristics of good news writing; and 4. Write a good news story Introduction to Mass Communication and Journalism (Engl43) Campus Journalism (EdEngl313) INTRODUCTION Today is February 14. The sun sits high in the sky. The cool breeze of the eastern wind kisses your cheeks incessantly and the birds chirp blissfully from the mango tree whose leaves dance to the rhythm of the gale. Although you have no love life, you still feel as though you are the most fortunate person today. So you escaped school. While galloping (like a horse) towards home, you suddenly saw a crowd of people panicking. Before you could even realize what is going on, you heard the siren of a fire truck approaching the area. Then and there, you knew a house is being engulfed by an inferno of fire. Upon asking other people in the area, you learned that the house is owned by a multimillionaire businessman, Boy Kapuy, who is a known businessman in your province. His pet dog is in the house. Somewhere near the burning house, you saw Boy Kapuy throwing tantrums. He is screaming “Pootchie is in there! Someone save him!” But no one seemed to care for the poor dog. So out of desperation, he suddenly exclaimed, “I will give a million pesos to anyone who will save my dog!” Because of the enticing offer, your classmate, Boy Pigsa, an 18-year-old lad who also escaped because of the beautiful weather, immediately jumped from the crowd and rushed towards the building. After a few minutes, he came out unbruised with Pootchie, an unbelievably three-foot bulldog on his arms. So Boy Kapuy, after hugging the dog, gave Boy Pigsa the check. Because of your eagerness to share the information to your mom, who, by this time, is having her siesta, you ran immediately towards home. (end) THE PROBLEMS 1. How will you tell that interesting information to your mother? 2. What will be the very first sentence you will say? 3. As a news writer, how are you going to state that first sentence in a news story? THE MOST COMMON DILEMMA OF CAMPUS JOURNALISTS AND CAMPUS PAPER ADVISERS How am I going to present this story considering that the whole school may have already known about it? What then is the use of writing about it? Deng Deng High School celebrated this year’s Nutrition Month on July 29, 2014 at the school gymnasium. The theme for this year’s celebration is … Different events were conducted to celebrate the said event. It includes… The winners of the contested activities were: (THE list) THE ‘HIGH SCHOOLISH’ WAY OF WRITING A NEWS 1st semester, S.Y. 2015-2016 Hazel P. Buctayon Instructor
  2. 2. WHAT EXACTLY IS NEWS? A relevant story based on facts that usually flows from the most important to the least important Something interesting which many, if not most, people do not know yet It is information only. - Walter Cronkite, former CBS anchor A break from the normal flow of events, an interruption in the expected. - Melvin Mencher, author News is, in a larger sense, that material which is most likely to be looked to and accepted as the image of reality. --Raymond BASIC NEWS WRITING: THE RULES The ABCs of news writing are A , B and C__. The first and most important is _______. A story can be creative and compelling, but if it contains factual and grammatical errors, its (and your) credibility is marred, if not deemed worthless. If the public loses faith in the _______ and fairness of the press, loss of faith in democracy will soon follow. Always check numbers, spellings of names, who said what, and the other basic facts of any story. A reporter’s job is to find out what is going on, then write a story that’s interesting and informative. __________ always comes first. Second is ____________. Each word in your story should do a job. If it does not, take it out. Get to the point. Say it just once. Don’t be redundant. ____________ starts before you write. ________ starts with complete, competent reporting. You should understand your subject so completely that your story leaves it crystal-clear in the reader’s mind. Your story should leave no questions unanswered. WHAT MAKES A PIECE OF INFORMATION NEWS? News attributes Impact, Timeliness, Proximity, Conflict, Human Interest, Novelty, Prominence STRAIGHT NEWS STRUCTURE and Alice Bauer, America, Mass Society and Mass Media Any idea, event or opinion that is timely, that interest and affects a large number off persons in the community, and that is capable of being understood by them. --M. Lyle Spencer, former dean of the School of Journalism, Syracus University THE NEWS STRUCTURE Hard news vs. Soft news Hard news Soft news Standard fare of mosst newspaper all over the world; objective, direct, factual Featurized and objective Primary or more important facts Lead paragraph Least important facts Facts become less important Succedding paragraphs Facts become more interesting Least important facts that can be stricken out Ending paragraph Primary or most interesting facts The Inverted Pyramid Style THE INVERTED PYRAMID All straight news are written in th inverted pyramid form. This is the traditional form of newswriting. The most important facts are placed at the beginning. The details and the background are woven into succeeding paragraphs. The Inverted Pyramid Components: PRIMARY AND MAIN LEAD SECONDARY AND SUPPORT LEAD DETAILS OR PARTICULARS BACKGROUND 4W’s; usually a single paragraph explains or complements the main lead; normally twice the lead Answers “Why” and “How; gives flesh to the story Relevant past events; may be deleted
  3. 3. (LEAD) President Gloria Arroyo yesterday called on businessmen gathered in Malacanang to help the government in its campaign against rising criminality in the country. (SUPPORT LEAD) In a 40-minute meeting with the members of the Makati Business Club, the President told the businessmen that fighting crime syndicates is not solely the job of law enforcers. (DETAILS) The President asked the businessmen to install modern security equipment in their firms and to provide authorities with information on kidnapping and robbery cases. Leaders of the country’s business community called on the President to air their concern about the rash of kidnappings and bank robberies over inflation as the greatest threat to the country’s economic recovery. (BACKGROUND) The latest crime update by the Philippine National Police showed that bank robberies in the first quarter of the year had become more vicious with more victims being killed and wounded. Nearly 200 persons, mostly Chinese-Filipino businessmen, have been kidnapped last year and ransom payments totaled at least P100 million. Over the last six years, 63 people were killed and 231 others wounded in 296 bank heists ad armore car robberies nationwide. A tota of P369.8 million was lost to bank robbers during the period. ILLUSTRATION I. LEAD Also spelled “lede,” the lead is the firs paragraph that tells the most important facts of the news story. It is usually said to be the toughest part of writing a story. __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ _________________________. NOTES PARTS OF A NEWS STORY Some journalism books hold that the lead should answer the fives Ws and one H. But this is no longer the practice. Because this often leads to a first paragraph which is long and crammed with facts and thus defeats one of the basic rules in newswriting: clarity. The most important thing to remember in writing the lead is that it should attract the reader’s attention and sustain his interest. One swag says that the lead should be like a miniskirt: it must be short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover the essentials. It must interest the reader in the rest of the story. THOUGHTS TO PONDER IA. TYPES OF LEAD A. Conventional Lead B. Novelty Lead C. Grammatical Beginning Lead TIPS IN LEAD WRITING Use short, simple declarative sentences instead of complex and compound-complex ones. Don’t try to say everything in one sentence. Break up long sentences. Never use an important word twice in the same sentence. Avoid repetition of phrases, clauses and similar grammatical constructions. A. CONVENTIONAL LEAD The kind of lead used in straight news stories. It answers right away most of the 5 W’s and 1 H. It has six different kinds based on what it answers A1. WHO Lead Used when the person involved is more prominent than what he does and what happened to him Example: President Noynoy Aquino addressed April 10 PMA graduates in Baguio City.
  4. 4. A2. WHAT Lead Used when the event or what took place is more important than the person/s involved or any of the other W’s and H Example: The NSAT will be given Nov. 24 to all graduating High School students desiring to enroll in four-year college course. CONVENTIONAL LEAD A3. WHERE Lead Used when the place is unique and/ or no prominent person is involved in the story Example: The Philippines will be the venue of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. A4. WHEN Lead Rarely used as the reader presumes the story to be timely. However, this lead is useful when speaking of deadlines, holidays, and important dates Example: Today, almost to the hour, a revolutionary government was proclaimed by former President Joseph Estrada. A5. WHY Lead Used when the reason is more prominent or unique than what had happened Example: Because of poverty, around a hundred students dropped out from school last year. This was learned from PNU president Nilo L. Rosas. A6. HOW Lead Used when the manner, mode, means, or method of achieving the story is unnatural in way Example: Through the students’ paintings, the Manila Science High School was able to construct a three-story concrete building. B. NOVELTY LEAD Some kinds of leads are best used in writing news features. They are written in such a way that they attract the attention or carry out a definite purpose. KINDS OF NOVELTY LEAD B1. CARTRIDGE LEAD. Short, abrupt, and definite. It tells the gist of the news with the use of the fewest words possible. Example: President Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for two decades, is dead. B2. PUNCH LEAD. Somewhat similar to cartridge lead, but it surprises and intrigues the reader. Example: All private cars will now have to be grounded on Sundays. B3. PICTURE LEAD. This device attempts a pictorial account of the event. Example: Clutching her baby girl, Mrs. Lourdes Arquiza could not control her tears when she heard that her husband, Capt. Oscar Arquiza, was sentenced to die by lethal injection. B4. CONTRAST LEAD. This emphasizes the contrast. Example: Four years ago, she was just a plain housewife. Today, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino is the President of the Republic, the most powerful woman in the land. B5. QUESTION LEAD. This raises a query in the hope of inducing the reader to read on. Example: Will former President Estrada be acquitted of plunder? B6. FREAK LEAD. This lead throws caution to the air by trying to be different. Example: For sale: a baby. Mrs. Carol Conag, a Tondo resident, said yesterday that since she could no longer feed her baby, she might as well sell it. There were no immediate takers. B7. SEQUENCE LEAD. A series of paragraphs, usually arranged chronologically but with a single effect. Example: By 5 in the morning, she had already dressed her two daughters, Cynthia, 4, and Miriam, 2, for a Sunday mass. At seven, the three of them were seen attending mass in the chapel. At nine, when they returned to their shanty at Dagat-Dagatan, Maria Dorado, 46, despondent after having been abandoned by her husband, strangled her two daughters. She herself committed suicide. B8. ASTONISHER LEAD. Uses an interjection or an exclamatory sentence. Example: Better look your best this week!
  5. 5. KINDS OF NOVELTY LEAD B9. EPIGRAM LEAD. Opens by quoting a common expression, verse, or epigram, at least familiar in the locality. Example: Like father, like son. Ramon Garcia Jr. graduated Valediactorian this year Ten years ago, his father, Mr. Ramon Garcia Sr. also topped his class and delivered his valedictory address on the same Rustum where the young Garcia delivered his. B10. BACKGROUND LEAD. Similar to the picture lead, except that it describes the setting which is more important than that of the event or the person involved. Example: The PNU campus was turned into a miniature carnival ground on September 1 during the 104th F-Day Celebration of the University. Decorated with buntings and multi-colored lights, the quadrangle was a grand setting for a barrio fiesta. B11. DESCRIPTIVE LEAD. Used when comparatively few descriptive words can vividly formulate an imagery. Example: Dressed in white polo barongs and with diplomas in their hands, 1,500 graduates marched down the stage to the tune of Osmena High March. B12. PARODY LEAD. Consists of a parody of a well-known song, poem or line. Example: Water, water everywhere, but no water to drink. This was what the food victims found in their dismay. B13. ONE WORD LEAD. As the name implies, this is a type of lead that uses just one word. Example: March! Thus ordered Chess Club president Pol Buenconsejo to start the “Walk to Win” fund-raising drive. B14. QUOTATION LEAD. Consists of the speaker’s direct words which are very striking and which are usually quoted from speech, a public address, or an interview. Example: “The most important responsibility of a writer is to live to tell the tale,” thus said nationally acclaimed F. Sionil Jose during the opening of the 15th Inkblots, the national campus journalism fellowship of the University of Santo Tomas’ The Varsitarian. C. GRAMMATICAL BEGINNING LEAD There are times when the lead is introduced by a kind of grammatical form which is usually a phrase or a clause used to emphasize a feature. Here, the important W’s are found in the main clause, not in the introductory or subordinate clause which is just a modifying feature. KINDS OF GRAMMATICAL BEGINNING LEAD C1. PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE LEAD Phrase is introduced by a preposition Example: With brooms and other cleaning equipment, boy scouts from the Manila Public High Schools cleaned the City Markets in consonance with Mayor Lito Atienza’s CLEAN and Beautification Drive. C2. INFINITIVE PHRASE LEAD It begins with the sign of the infinitive to plus the main verb. Example: To encourage tourism, balikbayans are given a warm welcome by their fellow Filipinos. C3. PARTICIPIAL PHRASE LEAD It is introduced by the present and past participle of the verb. Examples: Hoping to cop first place, the PNU woodpushers honed up for the chess c h a m p i o n s h i p games. (present participle) Dressed like a priests, robbers were able to enter the bank. (past participle) C4. GERUNDIAL PHRASE LEAD It is introduced by a gerund (a verbal noun ending in ing). Example: Winning the d e v e l o p m e n t c o m m u n i c a t i o n trophy, during the national press conference was Arraullo High School’s best achievement of the year. C5. CLAUSE LEAD The lead begins with a clause which may either be independent or subordinate, or may either be a noun or an adjectival or adverbial clause. Example: Because September 9 was Osmena Day all lessons dealt with the life of the late president Sergio Osmena Sr. (subordinate, adverbial)
  6. 6. TIPS FOR A GOOD LEAD Keep it short. Newswriting is always tight, but the lead calls for special care. Get to the point. What is the story about? Tell the reader in the lead. Don't say, "The city council met last night.” Instead, tell your readers why they met, what did they talk about, or whichever is the most important information. Focus on the action. Use the "active voice.“ Hook the reader. Put the most important, the most interesting, the most exciting thing in the lead. SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN WRITING A LEAD 1. Read the entire prompt/every piece of information you gathered in your story. 2. Find the newest information. Put that newest piece of information in the lead. 3. The news lead should tell the reader what the story is about and be interesting enough to draw the reader into the rest of the story. Remember that the readers won’t know what the story is about until you tell them. 4. Ask yourself: “What do my readers need to know most?” 5. Write in third person, concise and to the point — just the facts. II. SUPPORT LEAD This refers to the paragraph that comes after the lead. This must further elaborate the lead which it supports. SUPPORT LEAD LEAD Example: A ten-year-old gradeschooler was killed after he was hit by a passenger van, 1 p.m. yesterday. John Doe immediately died on-the-spot for sustaining severe head injuries, police said. III. DETAILS These are pieces of information which give flesh to the story by answering the W’s and H which were not addressed in the lead and support lead. DETAILS Example: Doe was reported to have suddenly crossed the street to go back to school unaware of the speeding van which hit the Grade 4 pupil. Police said the family is unlikely pursue any criminal or civil case against the driver of the van. IV. BACKGROUND These are relevant past events which have connection to the story. BACKGROUND Example: Citizens, however, voiced out concern regarding speeding vehicles as this has been the twelfth death in the area since January caused by speeding vehicles. TIPS IN WRITING THE STORY The support lead should really support the lead. Don’t jump from one idea to another. The succeeding paragraph should support the preceding paragraph. Attribute opinions. Stick with the facts. Write in the active voice. Never EVER write news stories in present tense! Edit your story before submitting it to the editor. Read. Read. Read. Read. Master grammar and correct usage. Don’t be too wordy. What can be said in one word, must not be said in a phrase. Don’t involve yourself in the story. Use only the third person point of view. One-sentence paragraph rule
  7. 7. OTHER POINTS TO REMEMBER A. QUOTES Quotes bring a story to life. Let your sources tell the story. The reporter’s voice in the story should outline the main points and set the stage for the quotes. Quotes let your sources “talk“ to the reader, giving a personal impact that you can’t get any other way in print. A.1. Direct Quotes Should be linked to the paragraph before them. The quote should elaborate on the previous paragraph. 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. “This change will have a positive impact on academic productivity.” Should not repeat the transition/lead before them. 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. Can be longer than one sentence. Should have attribution after the first sentence of the quote. Attribution should be: Noun then verb. For example: Correct - senior Bob Rodriguez said. Incorrect - said senior Bob Rodriguez. (unless you have an unusually long title) Do not place two people’s direct quotes next to each other without a transition. Other Points to Consider in Quotes B. TRANSITIONS Each paragraph in your story should flow naturally from the one before it. If you have gathered enough information, and if your lead is strong enough, you may find that your story seems to “write itself,” flowing naturally from beginning to end. But other stories seem “choppy,” with the narrative taking jags and loops that could lose or confuse the reader. VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. Hold the story and the paragraphs together. Can be fact, indirect quote or a partial quote. Use transitional words to help with the flow as needed): After all, Also, Finally, In addition, However For example: In addition to speaking about community service, Obama plans to talk to students about the importance of voting. The T/Q Formula Sumter said Obama plans on honoring 25 seniors who performed more than 200 hours of community service last year. “I bet those seniors never thought the President of the United States would honor them for their community service,” Sumter said. Senior Darryl Butler, one of the seniors who will be honored, volunteered more than 300 hours at the Capital Area Food Bank last year. “I learned so much working there,” Butler said. “I am excited the President is honoring us, but my real reward is helping people in our community.” CHECKLIST FOR NEWS STORIES Are the most important and recent facts first?  Is the story accurate? Are the sources identified fully?  Are the paragraphs short?  Is the sentence structure varied in the story?  Is the story neat and double-spaced so that it is easy to read? Does your story flow? Did you use the transition/ quote formula?
  8. 8. WRITING A NEWS STORY: Plan Name: _________________________________________________________________ Directions: Watch an event in person or on television and take notes. Use this guide to help draft your news story. 1. The five Ws and H a. Who is the subject of the story? __________________________________________________________ b. What happened? ________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ c. When did it happen? ____________________________________________________________________ d. Where did it happen? ___________________________________________________________________ e. Why/How did it happen? _________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ 2. List other details that you want to include in the story. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ 3. List quotes you want to include. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________. 4. Write the body, the sequence in which you will tell your story. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________. 5. Write an attention-getting first sentence. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________. 6. Write your lead paragraph. Remember to use the inverted pyramid. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________. 7. Write a draft of your story on a separate sheet of paper or at the back of this sheet. 8. Revise your story. Edit for spelling grammar, punctuation and usage. 9. Proofread for mistakes. Review it by having aclassmate go over your story. 10. Pass it to the teacher. assignment
  9. 9. WRITING A NEWS STORY: Check It Over Name _____________________________________________________________ Directions: After you have finished your draft, see whether you have included each element of a news story. Put a checkmark if you think you have and a zero if not. Give your story to a classmate. Have him or her read it and put checkmarks or zeros for each element of a news story found in your story. Compare answers. Discuss your story with your classmate. You and your classmate shall also be graded according to your evaluation. assignmentChecklist for Classmate-Editor Element Writer’s Evaluation Reader’s Evaluation Story has the who. Story has the what. Story has the where. Story has the when. Story has the why. Story has the how. Story has an attention-getting lead. Story has useful details. Story uses the inverted pyramid. Evaluator (Signature over printed name)