News is information about anything that is interesting or significant. News is also a highly perishable commodity. Nothing is deader than yesterday's newspaper or last night's newscast or the previous online news cycle. That's why we throw old newspapers away or use them in the bottom of birdcages or in the house-training of puppies.
If readers want to know something, that means it has become newsworthy.
If something has happened or is going to happen in which people would be interested, that happening is news.
What is a college
Once you have a story with the right elements, how do you go about writing it?
of American newspaper stories:
in descending order
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.
A news story should answer:
If any of these elements is missing, it usually means the reporter has not dug out the complete story. In short, the reporter failed to get the complete picture.
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.
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.
-- Howard Culbertson
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