News is the recorded events that happen in the world around us. It can be in the form of newspapers, magazines or radio or television. The purpose of News is to inform, educate and entertain the reader, listener or viewer. The entertainment can come from other areas – music and drama on the radio or TV, or crosswords and cartoons in newspapers. The education and information are important because they affect our lives, often on a local level. For example, current health events, the decisions of elected officials in our cities or states, and even the weather can impact our day to day activities.
News should be unbiased, accurate and timely. To achieve this, the writer must make a conscious effort to stay informed of events at the international, governmental and local levels. It is also important to be aware of ongoing issues and debates which may have an impact on us in the future.
The first step in writing a good news article is to decide what the significance of an event is, and what sort of audience you are aiming for. This will determine how much detail to include. Veteran reporters know that the key to a good news story is in the details. Listening for telling snippets of conversation and dialogue; watching for images, actions or details that develop character and place can breathe life into a dull story. However, description for its own sake can be distracting and can clutter an article.
Once you have decided what your article is about, the next step is to find sources for it. There are different types of source, and the quality of the source will influence how reliable the information in an article is. The best source for a news story is one that comes from a primary source – someone directly involved in the incident. The second best is a secondary source, such as an expert in the field or the official spokesperson for an organisation. Finally, a third-party source can be useful as well.
After you have sourced your information, it is time to write the article. Start by creating a headline which sums up the main news points in a snappy manner. This will grab attention and keep it. Then work out the five Ws – who, what, when, where and why – to structure your lead paragraph. This is the section that will be most read by the general public, so it needs to be clear and concise.
Once you have the lead, then assemble the rest of your report, focusing on ensuring that all the key facts are included in the body of the article. If any opinions are quoted, these should be clearly identified as such. Fact-checking should be done at least once during the writing process, and sources should be cited appropriately. Finally, spell and grammar checkers should be used. It is also a good idea to have the article proofread by a colleague or friend.