How to write for a newspaper

Journalistic writing greatly differs from any other form of writing. Before you can even start writing a report or article, you need to ask questions. The primary questions that need to be are the 5Ws and 1H: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. The answers to these will ensure you have all the necessary information to write a detailed and accurate report.

  • The Introduction

The introduction or ‘lead’ of your story is the most important part. t should be a short summary of the facts, but at the same time needs to be able to draw the reader in. A lead should ideally be between 20 and 25 words.

  • The Inverted Pyramid

The layout of a well structured report is often referred to as the inverted pyramid. The introductory paragraph contains all the most important facts. The following paragraphs also contain information, but are used to back up the facts in the introduction. As the paragraphs go on, the importance of the information decreases, but it must still be essential to the story. The closing paragraph must contain the last bit of information that is essential to the story e.g. background information.

  • Style

Most newspapers have a formal style to their reports. They deliver the facts of any event without bias or prejudice. Remaining impartial is key to writing a good story. A reader will quickly notice when the writer is biased towards one of the parties in a story.

  • Feature Writing

Features differ from normal articles in a few ways. Firstly, the writer of the piece will write from a ‘first-person’ perspective; writing about their own experience and interactions with people mentioned in the article. Secondly, they don’t have a lead like a conventional report. This is to lure a reader in and have them read the full story, rather than giving all the information up front.

  • Jargon

As a journalist, it is best to refrain from using jargon in any report. Write everything in layman’s term. This is to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation.

Writing for a newspaper is hard work, but if you stick to the basic rules you will be able to write accurate and professional reports.

(This is a post by our intern Kristian Meijer)

(Image by The Air Force Departmental Publishing Office (AFDPO) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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