News is the current or most recent events that affect people’s lives and/or the world in general. It can be found in newspapers, magazines, television or online and it is important to know how to distinguish between legitimate and dubious sources. In a society where new information is constantly breaking, it is essential for every citizen to develop a strategy for staying informed and making decisions on what news to consume.
What makes a news story is the fact that it has never been told before or at least not in this way. It could be something that is a disaster for one person but not for another, because of cultural differences. News also can be about something that is not directly related to human activity – for example, weather or the condition of an animal or plant.
The most important part of a news article is the lede (in journalism jargon it’s called the ‘lead’) – 25 words or less that will entice the reader to keep reading. In a newspaper this is placed above the fold, where there’s a crease in the paper; on a website it’s the first thing that is visible to the reader without having to scroll down. It is vital to make a strong lead and to keep the audience in mind – who you are writing for, what will they want from this news article?
After the lead comes all the information that supports it – in the form of quotes, facts and figures. Usually the most significant points are given prominence, followed by those that are less important. Then there is a conclusion, which is often a restatement of the leading statement or a comment on any future developments in relation to the story. It is important to include a source for all information gathered, either by direct quote or paraphrasing. This shows the reader where the information came from and helps maintain a high level of credibility.
A good news writer will always check facts, ideally having a second set of eyes read over the finished product before publication. It is easy to overlook errors, so a little bit of diligence at this stage can help prevent embarrassment later on.
It is essential to use the ‘5 W’s’ when composing a news article: Who, What, Where, When and Why. This will help to ensure that all the important points are included and that the article is as accurate as possible.
A good way to learn the art of news writing is to read other articles and watch news stations or shows. Observe how they present the story and try to emulate some of the techniques they employ. Lastly, it is always good practice to get an expert to proofread the article before it is published, whether it’s for professional or personal reasons. It’s important to be accurate, and a professional editor can spot mistakes that you might have missed. They can also give advice on how to improve the article and provide suggestions for additional research.