Writing news stories is a skill that takes time to develop. This is because there are several different aspects to consider. However, it’s not impossible for someone to become an expert in this area if they put in the work and practice writing regularly.
In this article, we’ll be going over the 14 most important steps that you need to take when writing news stories so that your readers don’t feel like they’re getting shortchanged on content:
|1. Prioritize Accuracy: Ensure all facts and information are thoroughly verified before publishing.|
|2. Craft Engaging Headlines: Grab readers’ attention with captivating headlines that accurately represent the story.|
|3. Use the Inverted Pyramid Structure: Present the most crucial details at the beginning and follow with supporting information.|
|4. Incorporate Quotes from Sources: Include quotes to provide additional perspectives and credibility to the news story.|
|5. Focus on Clarity and Conciseness: Write in a straightforward manner, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complexity.|
|6. Stay Objective: Report the news objectively without bias or personal opinions influencing the content.|
|7. Address the 5 W’s and H: Cover the essential elements of who, what, when, where, why, and how in your news coverage.|
|8. Consider Your Audience: Tailor the language and tone to suit the target audience and their level of understanding.|
|9. Include Relevant Context: Provide background information to give readers a comprehensive understanding of the news event.|
|10. Use Visual Elements: Incorporate images, infographics, or multimedia to enhance the storytelling and engage readers visually.|
|11. Proofread and Edit Thoroughly: Avoid grammatical errors and typos by carefully reviewing the news story before publication.|
|12. Check Legal and Ethical Considerations: Ensure compliance with copyright laws and adhere to ethical guidelines in reporting.|
|13. Stay Updated with Current Affairs: Stay informed about ongoing developments in the topic to provide timely and relevant news.|
|14. Seek Feedback and Improvement: Welcome feedback from readers and peers to continually enhance your news writing skills.|
1. Decide On A Topic
So, you’ve got your assignment and the topic has been assigned to you. Now what?
- First, decide on a topic that’s relevant to the assignment. If it’s not relevant, then there is no point in writing about it at all.
- Second-and this should go without saying-choose a topic that interests you! It’s going to be hard enough writing without having an interest in your subject matter; at least try not to make things harder than they need to be by choosing something boring as your subject matter.
Now that we’ve covered two of them (relevance and interest), let’s talk about research Research is half the battle when it comes time to write news stories!
You need facts and figures for every story; otherwise, readers won’t take anything seriously because their minds will always be racing with questions like “How do they know?” “Are these numbers correct?” or even worse: “Did anyone fact check this?”.
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2. Do Some Research
Research is the foundation for any good article, and it’s extremely important to research before you start writing. If you don’t know what your story is about and who your audience is, how can you possibly write a story that will interest them?
Researching means reading sources, asking questions, and looking for new information. There are two types of research: primary (the source) and secondary (other people’s work).
You should use both kinds when writing a news story, but don’t forget that the most important thing is finding out what happened!
So how much research should be done before writing begins? That depends on how much time you have available.
But keep in mind: if there isn’t enough information on hand, it may be too difficult or impossible for anyone else at all – not just some people who aren’t quite as familiar with English as others might think they are!
So try not to rush things too much by trying too hard – otherwise, nothing good will come out of either one!
3. Make Sure Your Topic Is Appropriate For The Assignment
There are a few things to consider before choosing a topic. First, make sure it’s relevant to the assignment.
The purpose of an article is to inform readers about something that affects them or their community, so if there isn’t any connection between what you’re writing about and your audience, then there’s no reason for them to read it.
Second, make sure your topic is appropriate for the publication in which you have chosen to publish.
Each publication has its style guide (a set of rules) that tells writers how they should format their stories and what topics are considered acceptable by editors at that particular outlet; these guidelines often vary between publications as well as within different sections of a single publication (e.g., science stories will differ from sports stories).
Finally, consider whether or not this story fits into one of those seasonal “news lulls” (like winter). If so, focus on getting other assignments done first before spending time researching something new!
Crafting a news article that captures readers’ attention and conveys the right message is no easy task. Fear not, for our Unofficial Guide on How to Write a News Article is here to provide you with the tips and insights you need to excel in this field.
4. Organize Your Research In A Way That Makes Sense To You
There are many ways to organize your thoughts and ideas, but the most important thing is that they’re organized in some way. You can use a spreadsheet, mind map, outline, or graphic organizer to sort out all of the information you’ve gathered.
Just make sure it’s customized for this particular story so you don’t have to re-organize everything later on down the line.
5. Identify Your Voices Or Main Sources
Now that you have the basic information, it’s time to identify your voices or main sources. These are the people who are most knowledgeable about the topic and can help you build a better story.
They can be experts in their field, people who were directly involved in an event or situation, or even just someone who has some useful knowledge about a topic. It’s important to talk with them so you can get their permission for us to quote them and use their name in our work.
We also want them to talk with us it helps if they’re willing to answer questions by phone or email when we need more information than what was given during one interview session (or if we simply want another point-of-view).
Finally, it would be very helpful for us if these voices could send us any photos/videos/documents related to the topic so we don’t have to go searching around town ourselves!
6. Contact Your Voices If They’re Available And Willing To Talk To You
When you’re contacting sources, it’s important to note that some of them may not be available or willing to talk to you. Here are some tips for when this happens:
Call or email the source as soon as possible after getting their contact information from your editor or another reporter. This makes it more likely that they’ll respond quickly and possibly agree to an interview or other form of cooperation with your story.
It also helps ensure that you’re contacting them at a time when their schedules aren’t too busy since this will make them more likely to cooperate with you.
If the first person on your list is unavailable, try calling another person on your list, especially if they work at the same organization as someone else who did agree to an interview.
The fact that one employee at an organization agreed to speak with a journalist may mean others in that organization will be willing to!
Offer clear reasons why readers would want access to what happened/how people feel/what they think about something new or offer clear reasons why providing access would help advance knowledge in some way (e.g., “This news changes everything we thought before,” “These workers have never been heard from before”).
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7. Develop Your Questions
When you’re developing questions, keep in mind the following:
Open-ended questions. Questions that can be answered in many different ways (i.e., “How do you feel about …?”) are helpful because they let your sources add their own opinions and experiences to the story, which makes it more interesting.
Relevant questions. Make sure they relate to the topic of your story; this will help guide your interviews and make them more focused.
Relevant to audience information needs as well as assignment requirements – write down every person who should be reading or listening to this piece of work and make sure each question addresses something relevant for them (this may mean asking two sets of questions).
8. Conduct The Interviews
- Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions encourage the person being interviewed to talk and give you more information than would be obtained from a closed question.
- Ask follow-up questions. After the interviewee answers your initial question, ask them to elaborate on their answer, or rephrase the question in a way that gets them talking again (e.g., “Can you tell me more about that?”).
- Ask questions that get people talking about themselves, not just about your topic or story subject.
- People often respond positively when asked about themselves because it shows an interest in who they are as individuals, which can make interviews much easier for both parties involved!
9. Set Up A Rough Outline Of The Story Based On The Information You Have
To start, you should create an outline of the story based on the information you have. The purpose of this step is to determine what part of your story will be included and how it will be presented for it to be effective and engaging for readers.
You should focus on asking yourself three questions:
- What is the purpose of this particular story?
- Who is my audience?
- What is my main character’s goal or objective?
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10. Fill In The Details With Facts And Quotes From The Interview
Now that you have an idea of the story, it’s time to fill in the details with facts and quotes. Quotes can help you add color to your print piece, show off your voice as a writer, add credibility, add authority, make a point more interesting, or even provide personality.
Whatever reason you choose to use quotes in your writing (and there are many), remember that they should never be used just for the sake of having them there (i.e., “I interviewed John Smith about his job.”).
If you don’t have anything new or interesting to say about something someone else said don’t quote them!
11. Get Rid Of Unnecessary Information Or Points Of View
As a journalist, it’s your job to capture the most important points in a news story and interestingly convey them.
Sometimes you may find yourself with more information than you need for this purpose. It’s okay to pare down what you’re writing so that it’s more concise and impactful.
Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings or offending the reader in fact, don’t even think about either of these things at all!
Just focus on getting rid of excess information and making sure your article is as tight as possible by not repeating itself unnecessarily or using unnecessary words.
12. Fill In Any Gaps In Your Knowledge By Doing More Research
You should also use your own experience and knowledge to fill in any gaps in your knowledge.
For example, if you are writing about a subject that you know very little about, such as computer programming or world politics, then you can use the internet and books to learn more about it.
You might also talk with people who are experts on the subject such as friends who work in computer science and ask them questions. You could also read other articles on this topic to see how other writers have approached it and what they’ve written about it.
When researching for a news story:
- Search for sources of information online;
- Use resources like libraries (both physical ones and online databases)
13. Edit For Clarity And Readability
Editing for clarity and readability is important for several reasons. If the words you use aren’t clear and your sentences don’t make sense, your readers will likely get confused and stop reading.
It’s also important to edit for readability because it makes your writing easier to understand, which makes it more likely that people will stay with what you’ve written all the way through.
The good news is that editing is an easy step to take it mainly involves changing some of the words in your article so that they’re simpler and easier on the eye (and brain!). Here are some things you can do:
Write in a way that’s easy to understand by using simple language. Try avoiding words like “utilize” or “utilization,” as well as legal terms like “plaintiff” or “warrant.” Instead of saying something like “he utilized his warrant,” said simply “he had a warrant.”
Similarly, instead of saying something like “the plaintiff was injured during his utilization of his vehicle,” say simply “the man hurt himself when he drove.”
Using shorter sentences will also help make sure people understand what you’ve written; try breaking up long ones into smaller chunks whenever possible!
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14. Put All Relevant Information In A Place
The most important thing you can do to ensure that your story is well-organized is to put all relevant information in a place.
- Put all relevant information in a place
- Use subheadings for each section of the story (e.g., “How They Got Here” or “What He Found Out”)
- Quote sources when appropriate to help break up text and give readers something new to read about. You don’t want your story to read like an essay; quotes add variety and interest, which makes it easier for readers to get through the whole piece!
- Use consistent formatting don’t switch between italics and bolding, use regular paragraph spacing instead of bulleted lists every other sentence, etc.
So that readers know what they’re getting into when they start reading your article or blog post. It will also make your job easier if you’re writing multiple pieces at once (and I’m sure many people are doing that right now!).
Hopefully, this list will help you avoid some common mistakes and make the writing process a little bit easier. It can seem overwhelming at times, but remember that every good reporter has to start somewhere.
If there’s anything we can tell you from our experience as journalists, it’s that even when things get tough we always find a way through!
Journalism: How to Write: A comprehensive guide to writing in the field of journalism, covering essential techniques and best practices.
How to Write a News Story: An insightful blog post offering practical tips and strategies for crafting compelling news stories that capture readers’ attention.
The 10 Essentials of News Writing: Discover the ten crucial elements that every news writer should master to produce high-quality and impactful articles.
What are the key elements of news writing?
News writing entails several crucial elements, including accuracy, timeliness, objectivity, clarity, and relevance to the audience.
How can I improve my news writing skills?
Improving your news writing skills requires regular practice, staying updated on current events, and studying exemplary news articles from reputable sources.
What is the difference between news writing and other forms of writing?
News writing focuses on delivering factual information concisely and objectively, whereas other forms of writing might prioritize creativity, storytelling, or persuasion.
How do I structure a news story effectively?
An effective news story typically follows the inverted pyramid structure, presenting the most important information first and gradually providing additional details.
How can I make my news articles engaging to readers?
To engage readers, incorporate compelling headlines, use quotes from relevant sources, and provide context that resonates with your target audience.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.