The Basics of Reporting and Writing News
News is a collection of information that provides a snapshot of the world we live in. It can range from a major disaster to a minor celebrity scandal. The guiding principle of News is to present the facts in a way that is objective and balanced. It is often accompanied by arresting images that grab the viewer’s attention. In today’s fast-paced, 24-hour news media environment, the ability to identify a story and its essential elements, gather and process information efficiently and write concise and compelling accounts at breakneck speed has never been more challenging. This course introduces tomorrow’s journalists to the fundamental skills of reporting and writing news.
The first step to identifying a newsworthy item is to determine its significance. If a man falls off a ladder and breaks his arm, it’s not likely to be front-page news. But if an earthquake or terrorist attack occurs, the story is likely to be prominent. Other considerations include a story’s timeliness, its impact on people’s lives and the extent to which it reveals patterns.
Once a reporter has honed in on a subject, it is important to delve into the details of the story. This involves sourcing the five Ws: who, what, where, when and why. It is also necessary to investigate whether a story has been reported before and, if not, why not.
It is also helpful to jot down notes as you investigate the topic. These can be used later when composing the actual article to remind the writer of important points. It is also good to avoid using subjective adjectives when describing an event, since these may lead the reader to form his or her own opinion about what is being reported. Instead, try to be as specific as possible; for example, use ‘golden’ or’sparkling’ rather than ‘bright and sparkly.
Finally, a good journalist is not afraid to report on controversial topics. This may lead to angry letters from readers, but it is a necessary part of journalism. After all, the goal of a news article is to inform the public, and sometimes that means making people mad.
A good journalist is not afraid to write an opinion piece as long as it is well-supported and based on solid fact. On the other hand, a news story that is nothing more than an opinion piece should probably be avoided.
Some people believe that news stories are determined by market research. This is not entirely true, however, as there are a number of guidelines that help journalists decide what should be covered. In addition, a good journalist will always be conscious of the audience that he or she is writing for and will try to appeal to them while adhering to ethical guidelines. For example, an article about a new medical breakthrough may only be of interest to the scientific community, so it should not be presented in a way that is overly sensational. However, this does not mean that it is not newsworthy.