News story

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The media is a source of information that most people depend on to find out what is happening in their community. As with all things, there is a difference in style when it comes to print and broadcast media. Both have their place in the news world and both offer news in a similar fashion.

Some news media tend towards sensationalism while others go more for the balanced approach of news reporting. Sensationalist news is often called yellow journalism. William Randolph Hearst, Sr. was a known yellow journalist newspaper publisher. While other journalists were known for their objective and concise news reporting. Edward R. Murrow was a good example of good war reporting and he was respected by both his peers and listeners alike.[1] [2]

Starting the article

Writing a good news article starts with what is most important. Importance of course is based on the type of the article. Is the article “straight” news rather than a feature? A little more leeway is offered for the feature story while a deadline fact-based story would have just the facts with a catchy lead or lede as they say in journalism. The bread-and-butter of the news room is the fact-based hard news article. The key points to remember when writing a “straight” news article is to start the lead with a direct lead giving the information all at once. [3]

Example: Over a hundred school children escaped possible injury or death after AV-8B pilot Jim Smith took evasive maneuvers to miss hitting their school. 2nd Lt. Smith was flying near the Quantico Marine base when his jump-jet crashed landed at the military airfield. Quantico Public affairs spokesperson Marie Appleton said Smith was taken to a nearby hospital where he is listed in guarded condition. Investigators believe the crash was caused when his jet engines lost power. Further information detailing the accident will be released by Friday morning, according to Appleton.

Example: City officials received a lambasting Thursday night when numerous local residents complained about the city's proposed trash rate increase. Over a hundred people filled city hall waiting to express their displeasure.

Lead or lede

Notice the lead or lede contains who, what, where, when and how. Who is involved? What happened? Where is the location? When did this happen? How did it happen? Keep the lead or lede short but don't make it so short information is lost. Aim for 20 to 25 words, no more, when writing the lead. Also, remember the lead will write the story. Choose your lead carefully and the article will write itself.[3]

Example: Smokey County firefighters used the jaws of life to cut open a 1965 Mustang at the intersection of Grape and Vine. Firefighters were called to the accident scene Friday morning after witnesses reported the accident. Smokey County Sheriff Jane Doe said the Mustang rolled twice before coming to a stop in a nearby ditch. Sheriff Doe said speeding may have caused the accident, but no citations or arrests have been made. The driver of the vehicle was taken to Holy Cross Hospital with reported chest and head injuries. His female passenger was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene.

Pyramid

The next part of writing a news article is using the inverted pyramid method to communicate news. The inverted pyramid places the most important information at the top followed by the least important information needed to inform the reader of what happened. As seen in the examples given there is the lede giving all the basic facts followed by more information to allow the reader to learn what happened.

Differences in style

Broadcast journalists differ from the print journalists as broadcast journalists are usually able to offer immediate news coverage while print journalists have to wait to get their story into print. The style of broadcast journalism is a bit different when it comes to getting the story on air. Broadcast news stories still follow the basic tenets of journalism but reporters will usually start with an attribution and write in the present tense.

Example: Sheriff Jane Doe says a 22-year-old Smokey County man is a hero after pulling a child from a burning vehicle this morning.[4]

While there are slight differences in style between the print and broadcast media, both follow the basic tenets of good reporting. Write using the reverse or inverted pyramid and always write using a good lead.

Finally, journalists usually learn a style guide. One of the best known and used is the Associated Press Stylebook.[5]

References

  1. The Press: The King Is Dead - TIME. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  2. Edward R. Murrow. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Lead. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  4. harwoodp.people.cofc.edu. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  5. AP Stylebook Online [2010]. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.