How to Write a Good News Report
Journalism is a fast paced industry, requiring reporters to get the facts about newsworthy events and to write about them before a deadline strikes. It takes a certain amount of skill to be able to do this. Despite the pace, news reporters must adhere to high standards, and should have a firm understanding of news writing.
Know what you're going to write about. Stories are usually assigned by an editor. However, newsworthy events can happen anytime, anywhere, and alert reporters develop a good nose for news. It helps to have as many contacts as possible to alert you when news worthy events happen.
Get all the facts first. Journalists know this as the five W's and one H which pertain to who, what, where, when, why and how. These are the most important things to look for.
Look at the details. Most news isn't as straightforward as it seems. Be sure to look at a story from different angles, and get to know the subjects of a story more intimately. It is sad to know that a woman is killed by a drunk driver, for example. But when you find out that the victim was an honor student and a very active member of a charity, it gives the story more depth and personality.
Double-check facts to avoid errors. Sources may also make mistakes when giving you information and some may even deceive you. It is wise to get in touch with other sources. In a shooting incident, for example, getting the facts from the police and from both the criminal and victim is not enough. You should also interview other witnesses who may give information that will reveal more about the incident.
Start writing the news, beginning with the lead. The lead is what hooks your readers and urges them to read on. Most leads are usually a summary of the story, but they can also be dramatic or take the form of a question or a quote in order to gain and retain reader interest. Always use the active voice in reporting. The passive voice is awkward and may discourage readers from reading on.
Write the body of the article. The most common form of a news report is the inverted pyramid. Here, the important information is given in the first few -- if not the first -- paragraphs. Other information relating to the story follows. This form is common because it allows editors to delete the last paragraphs if there are space constraints.
Check your article for errors. If time permits, leave the article for a moment then read through it again with a fresh eye. Newspaper publications usually have proofreaders and editors to check for errors but keep in mind that you are the first line of defense. Grammar mistakes are embarrassing, and factual errors can result in a lawsuit.
- Be as simple and as concise as possible. Always eliminate needless words and avoid using slang and technical jargon. Your article has to be read and understood by everyone.
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