What is a college newspaper?
A one-day seminar done at Mid-America Nazarene University
Part 2: Writing the story
Once you have a story with the right elements, how do you go about writing it?
of American newspaper stories:
in descending order
Some A to Z basic rules
A is for Accuracy. Get complete information, complete identification and complete names. "Almost right" is not enough.
Z is for zeroing in immediately on the story you have to tell. Your article must sustain interest from beginning to end. If it doesn't, cut it down and change it until it does.
- Don't write fancy prose.
- Don't pad your story to make it longer than necessary. Keep it short.
- Don't write unsupported opinions or claims. Stick to facts.
- Don't be surprised if an editor rewrites your story. That's part of an editor's job.
The five W's and H
A news story should answer:
If any of these elements is missing, the reporter usually has not dug out the complete story.
A long, overloaded lead sentence can be as objectionable as one that misses the main point entirely. Do not try to answer all 5 W's and the H in the first sentence of your story. Determine which of the W's and H is most important. Emphasize that one element in your lead sentence.
Make paragraphs terse, but not interdependent. Write so that whole paragraphs can be removed without destroying the sense of the article.
Do not let paragraphs run on and on. Short paragraphs open up copy. That makes the story easier to read.
Follow the inverted triangle principle and arrange paragraphs in the order of their importance.
Avoid starting paragraphs with "the," "a," "it," or "there."
Do not pack too many ideas into any one sentence. Be especially careful of the lead.
Do not start a sentence with the same word with which the preceding sentence ended.
Keep sentences short while also varying their length.
Use precise words. Make wording compact. Select each word for maximum effect. Why use a quarter word when a nickel one will do?
Use adjectives sparingly. Think three times before using an adjective. Strong nouns and active verbs seldom need qualifiers. Adjectives are cheap.
- Editorial opinion
- Superfluous vocabulary
In news stories, avoid both "fine writing" and trite expressions.
Do not use an important or unusual word twice in the same sentence or too closely in the same paragraph.
Keeping your ducks all lined up
- Give your source. Every story has a source.
- Check copy: accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.
- Names (double-check spelling)
- Numbers (cross-check your figures)
- Refrain from editorializing
- Keep "I" and "we" out of the story
- Avoid inadvertent comment
- Don't use loaded words
- Closing moral or exhortation--quote your source instead
- Put in details that readers need to know
- Don't assume your readers know something.
|Eliminate distracting errors by proof-reading. [ read more ]|
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma
City, OK 73132 | Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax:
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