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Writing Your Story: Hard News

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Ifan Jones

on 8 October 2015

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Transcript of Writing Your Story: Hard News

Writing Your Story:
Hard News
- The Intro: The Newest, most important development

- Explain the intro, context, nut graph

- Quotes that support the above facts

- Technical details or statistics

- Leftover quotes

- Historical or Background Information

Hard News Articles
Starting a story
Starting a news article
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
Over 100 people have died after a whaling ship from Nantucket sank in the Pacific, leaving only one known survivor.
Starting a story
Starting a news article
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been
wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.
A man has lost a hand and his eyesight after his mentally ill wife escaped from the attic and set the house on fire.
Clarity and precision
Find out:

What has happened?

Who has it happened to?

Where did it happen?

When did it happen?

How did it happen?

Why did it happen?

They are the building blocks of your story.

Readers love to point out incorrect facts.

Two or three per sentence.

Presume ignorance.

If you don't know how to organize your facts, explain to a friend.

Simplify the language, not the meaning.

Use short words.

Cut out any words that aren't needed.

Avoid using a foreign phrase, jargon or slang.

Paragraphs of one or two sentences.

Avoid clichés and hyperbole
‘Savagely murdered’

‘Brutally raped’

‘Shock reports’

‘Widespread concern’

'Innocent bystanders'

‘Tight-knit community’

‘Have-a-go hero’

‘Dashed to hospital’,

‘Traffic chaos’


Let the reader come to his or her own conclusions based on the facts.

Name your sources
'Thomas Jones,' then 'Mr Jones'.

Find out if women are ‘Mrs/Miss/Ms’.

Street, Towns, Countries.

0-12 - Girls/Boys

13-18 - Teenagers

18+ - Women/Men

Breathe life into your story.

Support the facts.

Need to be correct.

Don't overdo them.

Break them up with some exposition.

Don't use them to state simple facts.

Partial Quotes
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Osborne was “over the moon” about the new GDP figures.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said the nation is “headed for a triple-dip recession”.

A quote within a quote
Mr Miliband said: “Those who said I was ‘a boring policy wonk’ have been shown to be wrong.”

Mr Cameron said: “The International Monetary Fund has described the turnaround in the economy as ‘a minor miracle’.”

'He said' is fine...

Avoid these…

‘He added’
‘She claimed’
‘He continued’
‘She confirmed’
‘He quipped’
‘She pointed out’
‘He laughed’
‘She admitted’
‘He retorted’
‘She alleged’
‘He stated’.

Some humorous descriptions that have appeared in the press…

Badgers – The traditional black and white striped nocturnal creatures

Baked beans – Traditional British toast-topper

Bouncers – Dickie-bowed generals of the disco door

Carrot – popular orange vegetable

Comedians – merchants of mirth

Duck – web-footed waddler

Mahatma Gandhi – the legendary Indian leader played in the 1982 film, Gandhi

Hadrian’s Wall – the elongated historical treasure

Penguins – much-loved flightless bird of the Antarctic

Pyramid – the ancient Egyptian shape

Scoring a goal – dispatching leather to net

Seahorse – offbeat-looking fish

Smurfs – the blue Belgian pop elves

Pier – the rusting reminder of a bygone age, stretching its withered arm out to sea

Speed camera – the unquestioning disciplinarian of errant drivers

Tarantula – the hairy invader from South America

Tea – the comforting fluid

Tour de France – the quicksilver shoal of shimmering spokes and shining legs

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of variation, but avoid the ridiculous!

The End
The News Pyramid
Types of Story
Hard News

Feature Articles

Opinion Pieces
The Editor, James Smith, said: “This is how most newspapers handle quotes.”

The deputy-editor, Boris Jones, added: “If the quote consists of several follow-on paragraphs, use open quotes at the start of each paragraph.

“Don’t use closed quotes until the quote is over. And make sure the full stop is inside the quote marks.

“It should look like this.”

One to nine in words: ‘She is three years old’

10 onwards in numbers: ‘He is 15 years old’

There are a few exceptions, such as £1m and £1bn


Local people are angry about the new shopping centre development which is due to open in Bangor in nine months’ time.


The new shopping centre will be erected in upper Bangor, according to report's.


A total of 6 shops will be built on the site on Holyhead Road.


The leader of the Bangor chamber of commerce is utterly terrified that the new shopping centre will lead to the closure of tens of family businesses.


Chris Jones, 53, said the shopping centre would be too large, and that people should not shop at the shopping centres but shop at shops owned by people from Bangor.


He says he is furious and was going to resign from the Chamber of Commerce in protest at the plans.


“I’m very angry that this new shopping centre will be allowed to go ahead,” Mr Jones said angrily.

“It’s utterly preposterous that we need a new shopping centre in upper Bangor when the high street is going to the dogs.

Mr Jones said he would be boycotting the new shopping centre when it opened, and would continue to do his shopping at the local greengrocers.


The new shopping centre is expected to open in upper Bangor in March, protestors say that they will occupy the site in order to stop the building work taking place. But are they right to be worried?


The leader of Bangor City Council, Ian Edwards, however, said that the shopping centre was needed as the old one was falling to pieces. But in this reporter’s opinion, he’s lying.


“It’s ridiculous to imply that a new shopping centre would put the high street in any danger,” said Mr Edwards.

“People in upper Bangor never go down to lower Bangor anyway. It’s too difficult to get back up the hill, and there’s nowhere to park. They all shop at Tescos.”

“The shopping centre will go ahead and that’s the end of the matter.”


As night fell, protestors outside the council offices huddled like penguins around a simple burn barrel.

The fire flung flaming ash into the air like Mount Vesuvius, which extinguished like whispers on touching the soot black tarmac below.

spot the problem?
x Opinion pieces
x Hard news articles
x Feature articles
"Her eyes look like lamps blaring up just before the oil is gone."

As I Lay Dying
, by William Faulkner.
Thou shalt not...

Draw attention to your own writing.
A three-year-old American boy has shot his mother and father with the same bullet after pulling a gun from her handbag, police say.

- BBC News, 1/2/2015
Boffin Rapped Collision

Foul-mouthed tirade

Bubbly Flamboyant

Fun-loving Bonk
Full transcript