Fancy Using Fancy Words?
As much as you are willing to flaunt your excellent vocabulary to readers out there, keep in mind that it is indispensable to use words that are simple and easy to understand. Remember that newspapers are written keeping in mind the reading level of a 12-year-old. So, keep it short and simple.
Learning how to write a news article is vital for anyone who aspires to become a writer/journalist/reporter, be it for a school-level newspaper, or an actual newspaper; the latter would take a lot of learning and formal training though!
It takes a lot of research and methodology to draft what appears to be a "simple" summary of an incident that is worth getting a newspaper coverage. There are a lot of thoughtful considerations to be made by the writer to reach out to the readers in the right manner.
It is important to remember that newspaper readers constitute those who want to read a summary of events that covers the main facts in a concise way; however, you should also include the ways through which they could know more, if they wish to.
A newspaper article has to be crisp and to the point. It shouldn't be repetitive, extensively elaborate, or too overwhelming. Right from the topic chosen to the language to the grammar to the presentation order, everything needs to be precise. The following section will explain the essential features and elements of a good news article.
TIPS FOR WRITING AN EFFECTIVE NEWS ARTICLE
You see, there is a difference in the way one individual comprehends the meaning or implication of the words conveyed, which is why, to ensure that you gather maximum readers' attention, it is crucial to follow a systematic approach. This is explained through the following tips.
CHOOSE A CATCHY TOPIC
This tip applies in case you have the freedom to select what you wish to write on. Go for a topic that appeals to the masses, something that can grab their attention. It could be anything as sensitive as racial discrimination to something as encouraging as homeless animal adoption.
If a topic has many aspects to it, ensure that you specify the facet that you intend to cover in your article. When it comes to a newspaper, it is always preferable to write on a recent event that has been stirring things around lately.
COMPILE YOUR FACTS
The facts and information that are presented in the article need to be accurate and authentic. For all the people you have interviewed, all the quotes that you have used, and all the claims and findings that you have highlighted in the article, it is imperative to cite attribution and sources to make the article credible to the readers.
In the absence of these, both the writer and the newspaper that publishes it comes under the scrutiny for want of authenticity.
A LEAD WITH 5Ws AND 1H
The 5Ws and 1H stand for Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How. These 6 elements should be crisply present in your leading statement. A lead (or lede) is pretty much a briefly put summary of what is to be found in the body of the article.
It is the first section of a news article which ideally shouldn't exceed more than 2 lines. It should be quite strong and appealing in the way it is drafted, so as to arouse the readers to read further into the matter.
FOLLOW AN INVERTED PYRAMID FORMAT
While writing the body of the article, it is highly beneficial to use the inverted pyramid format to hold the attention and interest of the readers. In this format, the primary or main information and facts are presented first, followed by the comparatively lesser important facts.
This way, the initial paragraphs become more informative than the later ones. This is done while keeping the psyche of the readers in mind, as not all readers have the time or the inclination to read the entire article till the last period. Therefore, even if they read the first few sentences of the article, they at least get the main gist of the content.
FOLLOW A CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
When writing about an event, it is only logical to follow the order in which the event has taken place. However, if an incident worth highlighting has occurred in the later phase of the event, then try to highlight it in your leading line itself so that the reader knows that there is more after the first few lines.
If possible, try to include those main highlights early on in the article, while not overemphasizing on the not-so-important happenings in the event.
USE WORDS ECONOMICALLY
Surely, you must have scanned through many news articles and observed how concise and succinct they are. If a given point or fact can be presented in 10 words, do not use 20 instead. Also, omit sentences/phrases/words that seem repetitive in nature and give an impression of unnecessarily extending the point.
DON'T PRESENT A BIASED REPORT
Oftentimes, when you tend to write on a subject that is dear to you or quite close to your heart, a sort of biasness seems to surround the tone of the article.
As a reporter/journalist, you must incorporate both sides of the argument without appearing to be partial to any particular side. Your claims and support should also be backed with an authentic source from an authoritative body.
PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD
It is very important to be thoroughly sure of the article, be it the spelling, grammar, citations, tenses, or the flow of the content. Another crucial addition that you may be required to make is to add a brief background description of the event, in case you're writing a follow-up of an event that has already taken place.
Any writer or journalist must assume that the reader has no prior knowledge about the subject. Hence, every time a reader is attracted to your awesome lead, ensure that he or she is not left blank at the end of the article. Proofreading again and again is quite a necessity when it comes to eliminating trivial errors and typos in the content.
CONCLUDE WITH LINKS TO FOLLOW-UP
You must conclude the article by reinstating the main findings of the article. Other than that, if you have written on a subject that has the potential for possible developments in the future, your conclusion should always include the next step that is likely to occur in the process.
It should also have citations of the organization, phone numbers, or websites where more details about the subject can be found. This way, the reader will have an option to read more depending upon his or her preference.
BEWARE OF LIBEL
A libel is referred to a publication which contains malicious content which is written without any concrete research, proof, or credibility.
By law, any such article writer or publication is accused of spoiling a person's public image and is liable for fine, imprisonment, or perhaps, loss of job and goodwill. So, ensure that your article is backed by absolute authenticity and credible sources.
The aforementioned tips would have given the aspiring writer in you, an idea of how news writing is different from other forms of writing. You are restricted to a lot of rules and regulations, which, in fact, make this type of article look completely professional and neutral in nature, how it ideally should be.