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Tips for Writing in a Newspaper

If you are going to write a news story, then you will need some tips for writing in a newspaper. By the time you finish this article, you will be able to write a clear, easy-to-read, and informational story.

Tips for Good Newspaper Writing

There are certain things which must be included in the first five paragraphs of any news story. The four critical elements are:

  • News – needs to be only relevant information, the “who, what, when, where, how, and why” of the story
  • Impact – the meaning of a story and who may be affected by it
  • Context – is both the background of the story and things that are related to it
  • Emotion – Emotional elements need to be included to show the human side of the story and help the readers understand it

Leads

One of the most important keys for newspaper writing is to develop a good lead. The job of the lead is to summarize the story, incorporating as many of the: who, what, when, where, how, and whys that are possible. In a soft news story, the reader is drawn in first, and then presented the facts in the body of the story.
When writing a lead, you need to ask yourself what is the story and why is it important. A good lead has focus and involves the reader by showing him why he should read the story. It will engage the reader so he wants more, and will sound like a person talking to the reader, giving it a human touch.
Some common problems in leads include:

  • Containing more than one main idea.
  • Not making it clear what the story is about.
  • Lead is dull and has no tension or push to continue the story.

Leads should not be lifeless, but should sound like someone talking. Leads need to have an element of surprise that can clarify or make the reader smile. They should not be predictable. Lastly, leads should not contain jargon, as this can exclude some readers.
Since you have read the preceding tips for writing in a newspaper, you may want to read the following tips for clearer writing in general:

  • Sentences: These should be under 25 words and contain one idea. Don’t use many commas and use the subject-verb-object structure.
  • Voice: Use an active voice. This helps the writing be strong and easy to understand.
  • Words: Don’t use complicated words. Reduce them to a simpler word. Also, use precise words so you will need fewer words.
  • Numbers: Don’t include more than three numbers in a sentence.
  • Phrases: Don’t put more than three prepositional phrases in one sentence.

What Makes Up Good Reporting?

Here is a quote that sums up the essence of good reporting:

“I want stories to startle and engage me within the first few sentences, and in their middle to widen or deepen or sharpen my knowledge of human activity, and to end by giving me a sensation of completed statement.” – John Updike

Credibility

Reporters have a big responsibility to be accurate with the facts. A lot of people may read your article, and you don’t want to mislead them or leave out something they need to know. A newspaper can be put out of business if it is not credible.

Readability

It is important to know your audience. This is not like writing a paper in college, where big words are expected and you are showing how intelligent you are.
Newspaper writing needs to be clear and not have a lot of extra words or information that is not necessary. The language needs to be simple, with short paragraphs and sentences.
Try and figure out if you have answered all the questions a reader might have about the situation you are reporting on.


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