Writing news stories for The Filipino Australian or for other news sites isn’t difficult. You will not become an expert news writer overnight, but with practice you should be able to create effective news items.
Here are some suggestions which you can also use when writing a media release:
Remember the 5Ws and 1H
Even in the current blogging and microblogging era, this news-story writing rule formulated many many years ago still applies.
The rule is simply providing answers to each of these questions: What? Who? Where? When? Why? How?
When writing a news story, always keep this 5Ws-1H rule in mind. As a news writer, this should be part of your thinking process.
For example, if you are covering a story about a local community event like a fiesta, you will need to answer these questions:
What is the event? What are its associated activities?
Who is sponsoring the event? Who are the organisers? Who are the supporters of the event?
Where is the event to be staged? Where are the sponsoring organisations based?
When is the event? How long have the organisers been preparing? Is the event going to be run for certain period?
Why is the event being held? Is it being held to raise funds? Is it being held to celebrate another event?
How is the event going to be staged? Do the organisers need to raise funds? How much preparation is required? Is the event conditional upon another event?
The Inverted Pyramid
So-called because the most important information is positioned at the beginning, and details flow down from there.
The first paragraph, or lead paragraph, ideally should contain enough information to give the reader a good idea of what the story is about. The rest of the article explains and expands the lead paragraph.
A good approach to writing a news story is to ask yourself: What if the editor decides to include only the first two paragraphs of my story? Will it work? If not, then re-arrange your story to make it work. And please always remember: Spaces on news publication, whether online or offline, do not come cheap.
More Tips and Techniques
- News is about people
- What’s your angle?
- Be objective
- Quote people
- Don’t get poetic and flowery
- Grammar, spelling, and capitalisation
- Use active voice
News stories are all about how people are affected by events. In your community event story, you might spend some time focusing on one or more individuals, or on how the sponsoring organisations are doing, or how the supporters are feeling. Care: If you write about how people feel, make sure you observe rules (and in some cases, laws) in quoting people.
Most stories can be presented using a particular angle or “slant”. This is an accepted technique among veteran news writers and editors. Your angle can help make the purpose of your story clear and give it focus.
Browse headlines of news stories of your favourite news site. In most cases, the angle of the story is reflected in the headlines.Your headline should tell your story.
Here are some examples taken from The Filipino Australian:
Detach yourself from the story. If there is more than one side to the story, cover them all. Don’t use “I” and “me” unless you are quoting someone. If you have to take side and you like to use the first person, write a personal blog.
Here is an exampl”This breakthrough on bananas is good for farmers in small developing countries, good for consumers, good for international trade, and good for the WTO and multilateralism,” Mr Crean said.
Again, please be careful: If you write about how people feel or what they think, make sure you observe rules (and in some cases, laws) in quoting people. Respect their wishes if, for example, they say: “Do not quote me.” or “You can quote me on condition of anonymity.”
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Use simple words. Don’t use lots of heavily descriptive language. When you’ve finished, go through the entire story and remove any words which aren’t necessary. Follow the dictum: “Less is better.”
Check for grammar and spelling. Observe capitalisation rules. These errors do not speak well of the writer and the editor. Speaking of spelling: With two sets of English, English (UK) and English (U.S.), you can use either, but be consistent in your usage. Avoid straddling in the same story between the two English spelling styles.
On this note: Avoid using characters like [ ] or < > when you can use ( ) to enclose a word or a phrase. Some characters like  and < > have special uses like in programming short codes.
We also like action words.
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(Updated: 6 August 2017)