How to write a good news story

Headline

Writing headlines can be tricky. Too long and the reader will lose interest – too short and you’re not giving enough information away to tease the reader into the article. Fragment grammar is strongly suggested as writing a whole sentence can lessen the impact of the headline. It needs to be punchy, include the most important facts and convey what the story is about. A word of warning, be sure that a headline isn’t defamatory.

 

Intro paragraph

The opening of the news story is the most important bit. It should have impact to catch the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. It should be sharp and snappy but conform to regular sentence structure and grammar rules. It should be no longer than 25 words and must include: who, what where, when, why and how.

 

Put the most newsworthy information at the top

The newest and most significant information goes at the top of a news article, with the background or smaller details of the story nearer the bottom.

You don’t need to explain all the new information at the top, this isn’t always possible due to how long it would take, just so long as you mention it – you can explain it in full further down the article.

This is also helpful when it comes to cutting down the length of an article if it is too long because you know the paragraphs down the bottom of the article are the ones you can probably cut.

After your introduction, no sentence should be more than 35 words if possible. Also, in a news story each sentence should be a new paragraph.

 

Quoting

The first quote in your story should ideally come in your fourth but no later than fifth paragraph. This is the perfect place to put a quote because it helps to balance the facts of the opening paragraphs with an emotive quote.

You should open a quote with the name of the person who made the statement, followed by their relevant title. For example:

John Smith, a university lecturer, said: “We are excited by this new investment.”

Always use the word ‘said’ before your quote rather than a synonym such as ‘exclaimed’ or ‘announced’. These are very good for creative writing but not appropriate for a news story. Also, always use a colon prior to opening the quote, as seen above.

Remember, at the end of the quote, full stops always come inside the quote marks.

Ideally any article over 150 words will have quotes from at least two sources.

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