basic skills on how to write captivating news story

A news story is created to inform the public about current events, ideas or concerns. News stories can be created as a live recording, taped or written format. Writing news stories is not quite difficult if you are able to master the skills needed to do so. Here we will expose you to these skills so as to make your next write-up rewarding.

Formats of News Stories

Based on the event, subject or media available to dispense news; News stories can come in any of the following formats.

  • Long news story: when the length of the story is high. This gives the composer enough breathing space to write about an event or idea in detail.
  • Short news story: this is usually brief and straight to the point news story. The writer is not expected to explain everything that occurred in detail. But he should be able to pass adequate information to enable his audience to understand what the news story is about.
  • Hard news story: this captures straight-to-the-point, general and often time non-conventional facts. An example is a news story about “the high mortality rate as a result of breast cancer in recent years”.
  • Soft news story: this is often personal stories about human endeavors and survival. An example is a news story about “the unusual courage exhibited by a local single mum in training her children to become great in life.”
  • Taped/lived recorded news story: news stories can also be conveyed through live recordings and tapes. News stories that come through these formats, are often disseminated by media houses like television stations and radio stations.
  • Written news story: This format is often used by print media like newspapers and magazine outlets. Blogs and other online news media, also employ this format most times. ready to start writing your next news story: what is in there?

Your news story should be interesting and timely to captivate the attention of your readers and audience. So, before you set out to compose this story, here is what you need to know.

Catchy Headline (Your Invitation to Intending Readers)

The headline is the first part of your news story. It tells the reader what you are writing about. Make the headline catchy. Keep it simple. The headline is your invitation to your readers, so if it is poorly composed? It can send them off.

Write a Good Intro Paragraph

Often times, beginners fail in this area. Your introductory paragraph should be composed in such a way that it captures the most important things about your story. This should be brief and a summary of what you are writing on. In the intro paragraph, a reader should be able to know who the main players in the news story are. Where the event took place; what led to the event as well as why and how everything happened.

Put in Quotations

Yes, as you report in your news story, it is expected that you put in quotations. This quote should not come immediately you start the story. It can come in like five sentences after you have started. When quoting a particular person, do the following.

  • Put such statements under quotes. Example: John Smith arrived at the scene and said, “we have come a long way in this movement. We cannot afford to fold and disappoint our benefactors.”
  • Quote with words like said and not exclaimed or asked. Although using such words are highly recommend in other creative writings but when reporting in news stories it is not. Example: John Smith arrived at the scene and said, “we have come a long way in this movement. We cannot afford to fold and disappoint our benefactors.” – (correct). John Smith arrived at the scene and exclaimed, “we have come a long in this movement. We cannot afford to fold and disappoint our benefactors.”— (wrong)

Use the Pyramid Approach

This approach in news story writing entails, putting in the most important facts about the story at the beginning paragraph and expanding down just like a pyramid. As you move on with the story, you can expand by adding more detail about what occurred. The beginning should be as concise as possible. Leave much detail for the bottom (pyramid base). But keep important and concise facts at the top.

Select a Newsworthy Story

In reporting events, select stories that are newsworthy. What do we mean by a newsworthy story? You will agree, that an event that occurred several weeks ago will not attract the same attention as a current happening. Also, report within close proximity; news that just took place within your locality will definitely serve the interest of a local population more as compared to an event taking place in another far away locality. So as a rule of thumb, proximity and current events should be given priority in your news story.

Have Goals and Objectives for Writing

Having a well set out goal for writing, will help you know what is relevant for your news and what is not.

Interview

Look for people who can provide the most accurate information about an event and contact them. For instance, if there is fund leakage in a bank and you want to report on it. Try to contact the bank manager or top staff for a briefing and not a customer who just came to transact. Interviewing gives you firsthand information about the event. Confirm the authenticity of the information by interviewing a second and third source. Remember to take down notes while interviewing. Very important!

Before an Interview: Research.

Be much informed about the subject of the interview. This will give you an edge in extracting the truth from who you are interviewing. Being well informed about the topic of discussion will help you to know the necessary questions to ask. Wondering how you can do this? Then research well. Google and the internet are also there to help you.

Review Your News Story Before You Publish

Do not forget to revise your draft and remove weak points. Read your story aloud and check out for grammar and spelling errors and then send in your story to an editor.

Types of News Stories

The news story you are intended to write can fall under any of the following kinds.

Editorial News: As the name implies, this is usually a news story that carries the personal views of the editor. It is not totally objective in approach, even though objectivity is basic ethics in journalism.

Feature News: Here the writer uses a novelist artistic style in writing. You can incorporate graphics, maps, pictures, and other illustrations

Straight News/Hard News: This type of news reports the most crucial information in a simple and impartial manner. Here, the inverted pyramid approach can be applied. Important facts come first and are presented as it is.

In Conclusion

Whether you are writing a news story as a professional journalist or as a hobby, what will differentiate you from other writers is how well you have been able to present the story. As you set out to write, please apply the above rules.

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