Writing an Effective News Article


This article is about the craft that is journalistic writing, which essentially is putting one word after another so that the reader gets the desired message and continues reading. Good writing skills are essential for any journalist and without it, important news articles could not get to their target audience. The first issue to clarify is what a news article actually is. In my opinion, if it is new, factual and of interest it is news. If what you are intending to write isn’t covered by this then you are not writing a news article.

There are numerous formulas to writing a news article taught to journalists. The most common are Rudyard Kipling’s six questions (sometimes abbreviated to the five Ws) and the ‘news pyramid’.강남룸싸롱

Rudyard Kipling’s Six Questions.

Kipling’s 6 questions are Who, What, How, Where, When and Why provide a nice framework on which to create a new story. The textbook example is:

Lady Godiva (WHO) rode (WHAT) naked (HOW) through the streets of Coventry (WHERE) yesterday (WHEN) in a bid to cut taxes (WHY).

Caution however is urged on this approach – don’t try to cover all six questions in one sentence. Usually it will provide to be unwieldy. The intent behind the 6 questions is that all of them will be answered within the news story – not just the introduction! When you have written a draft article, ask yourself if your news article has answered all the questions. Sometimes you may surprise yourself and while you thought you covered all the items, one invariably is missed out.

Of all these questions, the ones you will not normally miss are the ‘Who’ and ‘What’. If your article hasn’t addressed these there is something seriously wrong with your prose.

News Pyramid

The concept of a news pyramid approach is that it provides the facts of the article in descending order of importance – the most important at the top. The first benefit of using this approach is that readers get the most important facts quickly – they don’t have to read the whole article to get them. The reader can safely stop reading at any point knowing that they haven’t missed anything significant. Secondly, it is much loved by editors who need to reduce an article in length. – Later paragraphs can be safely removed knowing that the article doesn’t have to be rewritten as the major points have been covered.

News pyramids typically start with a one sentence introduction that tells the reader what the article is about. Following the introduction that covers the salient points of the article, the information is retold, but this time the details and facts of the story are extended and amplified from one or more perspectives. This is then followed with further information about the story and perhaps further quotes. It is frequently found in a longer story that the introduction can be retold twice, each time with the details being extended. However this approach is difficult to develop coherently and is best left to the more experienced journalists with stories suitable for this approach.

Whilst the UK tabloid press is undeniably biased, it is good practice to take an impartial view and give the multiple sides of the story without distortion. Most readers, except the most narrow-minded, expect and want to read different interpretations of what has happened.


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