Writing an Effective News Story


Writing a good news story involves planning what you want to say, remembering the basic rules of journalism, and a careful review of the article. Here are a few tips to help in that process.

Desire alone is not enough to write an effective news story. For journalists, achieving that goal involves a careful analysis of what they want to say and how. Deadline pressures often mean journalists may not have the luxury of reviewing a story as thoughtfully as they would like. But there are several things journalists can do to assure they are writing quality stories:

  • Journalists should start thinking what they want to say immediately after covering an event. This is important to do while points made by speakers, important quotes, and other information is still fresh in their mind. Writers can literally start to construct a story in their minds before they begin to type. If possible, it is a good idea to write down thoughts, possible angles, ideas for leads, etc. Some journalists use tape recorders so they will not forget their ideas.
  • As discussed in another article, good stories begin with leads that grab a reader’s attention. But coming up with the right lead is not always easy. Sometimes it helps to write the story first without the lead, read it and the lead will most likely stand out based on what has been written. Remember, a lead summarizes the story and it may come easier after all the facts have been laid out.
  • Read stories aloud after they are completed. Slowly speaking the words of a story often will help journalists find mistakes they may miss by only silently reading their stories. This helps because it is hard for anyone to be totally objective about their work and reading copy aloud offers a fresh perspective than merely reading it without speaking the words.
  • Never forget to use the spelling and grammar check after completing a story. This is a standard feature on computers and easy to use, thus leaving no excuse for misspelled words. Sometimes in the hurry to meet deadlines, journalists misspell words or make careless typographical errors. The same holds true with grammatical errors in cases such as where the wrong punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence or comment.
  • Review the story to determine if information is balanced. As discussed in another article, this means assuring an article is not slanted. Achieving this involves journalists asking themselves if both sides of an issue are represented in a story and if quotes correctly portray what was said. If in doubt, and if there is time, journalists should ask peers to look at their stories to determine if they are balanced.

Anyone can summarize a news conference, meeting or major event. But it takes a professional to make sure all angles are covered in a fair fashion and then written up in a story that is coherent and grammatically correct. Remembering these rules are importing in achieving those goals.

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