As part of the Queensland State Library’s Summer Reading Club I was asked to put together some tips on writing a news story. Here they are, but you can also check out the SRC here for more tips, stories and competitions.
A news story gives readers the facts of an event. It is different from narrative writing because the most important information is contained in the first sentence. The details and less important information come later in the story. A news story does not rely on sophisticated language, metaphors or similes to tell the story. It must be simple and clear.
Here’s how to write a news story:
- Gather all of your information before you start writing the story. You will need to know:
- What happened
- Where it happened
- Who was involved
- When it happened
- Why it happened
- How it happened
- A news story starts with a lead. This sentence contains the most newsworthy information in the story and draws the audience in. It answers some of the above questions but not all of them. The news reporter must therefore make a decision about which fact is most important to the audience. Ask yourself what is new, unusual or interesting about the event you are reporting on. Keep the lead clear and simple.
- A news story flows from the most important facts to the least important information. This is very different from narrative writing that builds to a climax. The audience should have answers to all of the above questions by the end of the news story.
- News reporters interview experts, officials, witnesses and other people to gather information for their stories. These people are quoted in a news story to back up the information and to make the news story more interesting. Quotes must be attributed so the reader knows who is speaking. The attribution goes at the end of the first sentence of the quote. (“I have never seen anyone eat thirty seven eggs for lunch before,” Great State School teacher Julius Stout said. “I’d say we’ve broken a record.”)
- Not all sources are reliable. People have all sorts of reasons for hiding or distorting the truth. Sometimes they just have their facts wrong. Use at least two sources to confirm information.
- Balance your story by including opinions from both sides of the story. If someone is calling for a vacant block to be turned into a skate park, there are bound to be others who don’t want it. Make sure you include all relevant views.
- Read your story aloud to make sure the story flows well. Simple sentence structure is essential and never use a complicated word when a shorter one will do.
If you are interested in finding out more about news reporting check out this site:http://www.thenewsmanual.net/index.htm.
Got a story to tell? Submit your breaking news stories to the SRC online writing competition Read All About It. I have also contributed three stories to this summer’s edition of the Summer Reading Club online!
Check it out now.
For a taste of the exciting world of television news, take a look at my new book for young adults: Counterfeit Love.
Lucy Yang is loving her first television job in Hong Kong. She works hard and plays hard, and she doesn’t have time for a relationship if she wants to become a TV news anchor by the time she’s twenty-one. Besides, what man could live up to her impossibly high standards?
Then she meets Byron, and her world is turned upside-down. Funny, clever and impossibly gorgeous, Byron might just satisfy all of Lucy’s criteria. Sure, he’s a little cagey about his job, but what businessman in Hong Kong doesn’t want to protect trade secrets?
But as Lucy desperately tries to get to the bottom of a potentially huge news story, Byron keeps popping up in the most unlikely places. Is it just a coincidence? Or is Lucy’s perfect man not so perfect after all?
‘Lucy is strong, independent and determined but also sweet and very likeable. Byron is swoon worthy, hilarious, sexy with a hint of mystery. Together they make one of my favorite smitten romance couples. Also diversity … Its refreshing to read a casts of Asian characters as main characters. Love smitten romance books as they always leave me with a big smile when I am done.’ See full review by RowReads.