How to Analyze a News Article
Analyzing a news article properly is a skill that can be acquired. Newswriters are taught to be objective, but their personal opinions and biases sometimes may affect their articles.These might influence a reader's attitude and behavior. The prudent reader will learn how to uncover the journalistic techniques and will be able to read the material objectively. This is important for correctly and adequately analyzing a news article.
Structure of News Articles
Check the credentials or background of the journalist who wrote the article you are going to read if possible. Ask yourself the following questions: Is the author a famous person? Is he/she known for biases? Does he belong to a particular political party or organization? Is the person writing a personal opinion that is only acceptable in an editorial or op-ed column, or is this a factual account of the news?
Study the structure of the inverted pyramid that many journalists use. Look at the headline. Does it give you an idea of what the article should be about? Read the first paragraph, known as the lead. Look for the main point of the story and/or a summary of the major ideas. See if the lead gets you interested in reading the article. Look for the lesser important materials that generally follow.
Look for the 5 W's. These answer Who? What? Where? When? and Why? Jot these down in your notebook to help you get the main point of the article. Refer to this list as you read the remainder of the article. Emphasize the "Who". Who is the focus of the story ? Think about the "What." What happened to the person to make the story newsworthy?
Check for fact and opinion. A news article should be factual with statistics, proven studies and authorities backing up a claim. An opinion article, one based on emotion or personal experience, does not belong in a news article. Learn to distinguish between the two.
Look for conflicts or issues being discussed. Ask yourself if the writer is educating you with the facts or if he is trying to get you to think a certain way or follow a given action. Look at both sides of the argument. Consider the solutions proposed if he gives any. Was there enough information to support the ideas?
Study the graphs or pictures if there are any. Ask yourself if they are clear. Do they adequately and fairly represent the news they are supposed to be illustrating? Make sure the pictures are not cropped to eliminate some unfavorable material.
Make a list of unfamiliar words in your notebook. Look them up in the dictionary. Reread the sentences that contain them to reinforce the definitions.
Look at another newspaper with the same news article. Check to see if there are similarities in their treatment. Analyze the differences before accepting either one as correct.
Based in Bellmore, N.Y., Shula Hirsch has been writing since 1960 on travel, education, raising children and senior problems. Her articles have appeared in "Newsday," "Mature Living," "Teaching Today," and "Travel News." She holds a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University and is a retired professor of English.