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News Writing


Adrienne Burns

on 22 September 2014

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Transcript of News Writing

news writing
Your Objective
Demonstrate fundamentals and mechanics of news
News Story Format


Preparation/ guidelines

Writing News Stories from Interview

What does it do?
The lead is the tip of the iceberg
It grabs the reader's attention and starts the flow of energy.
Tells the reader something about the subject.
Shows the reader what kind of story this is.
Shows the story's significance &
answers the question "So what?"
summary news LEAD
A Single Sentence
Generally 25-30 words

Avoid connecting two independent clauses with a semicolon

Follows subject-verb-object structure

Uses active voice

Must include 4 W's
: single person, group or organization

: planned or unplanned event

: time or date

: location of the event. "Here" often suffices
"The Air Force announced today in Washington that it will introduce no-shine, no-polish boots to the service as early as fiscal 2011."

Facts reported in
descending order
of importance
Structure driven by technology and speed
Allows editors to cut from the bottom up
Gives readers facts in a hurry
Lead is most crucial element

The news peg is the most recent aspect of the news

It’s the reason the story is running today, not last week or next week

The most recent information is the peg

An electrician with the Department of Public Works here received an
Army Commendation Medal
at the post headquarters
for his work with the post youth football league last month.

Most recent also applies to future events

Base members have
until 4:30 p.m. today
to sign up at the base travel office for a three-day trip to Clearwater Beach, Fla., scheduled for next month.

THE 5 W's and an h
“Who” may be a single person, group or organization

- A student at the Defense Information School here
- A Basic Public Affairs Specialist Course class
- The Defense Information School here

- Use impersonal who for people not well known
- Impersonal who = job title + unit
- Impersonal who is more meaningful
- Rank is not a job title (most of the time)
- Use full name for prominent people

A singer with the Soldiers’ Chorus
here is slated to perform the national anthem during the opening of the Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards in Baltimore Saturday.

not well-known
Prominent person

Lady Gaga

is scheduled to sign autographs at the Exchange Saturday as part of a United Service Organizations tour of military installations on the East Coast.

- "What" tells briefly what happened at planned or unplanned event
- Try to stick to “who did what” structure; it helps keep sentence in active voice
- Normally the “who” or “what” are used as the LEAD EMPHASIS (the first few words in the lead)

A plan to build a 1,000-ship Navy
was announced today in Washington by the secretary of defense.

A free, public concert
by the U.S. Army Band is scheduled for Friday at the parade field here.

- Gives the location of the news event

- A lead may need more than one “where” for clarity

An aircraft maintenance technician with the 22nd Fighter Squadron

received the John Levitow Award Tuesday at the Airman Leadership School at

Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany

"Here" is often sufficient for events on post



will see an increase in their basic housing allowance next month after Congress approved an increase of 3 percent today in Washington.

Sometimes the “where” element is implied

The Navy will require incidents of drunken driving to be documented in sailors’ fitness reports beginning Jan. 1.

The Unit Fund Council at the Defense Information School here broke a DINFOS record by raising $10,000 for the school’s morale and welfare fund this year.

- The time of an event

- Need not be answered in specific terms

- How specific depends on importance of time element

Base members have until
4:30 p.m. today
to sign up at the base travel office for a three-day trip to Clearwater Beach, Fla., slated for next month.

*Use “scheduled,” “planned,” or “slated” for future events
Five nurses from the Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center here led a group of 20 officers from the post on a visit to the Laurel Regional Hospital in Laurel
this morning

Concerns the cause of an event
Can rarely be reported in an initial accident story

A Basic Still Photography course instructor at the Defense Information School here earned the title of the school’s Junior Service Member of the Quarter today at the school
for his military bearing and knowledge of current military events.

Relates the circumstances or manner in which something is accomplished
Often provides an intriguing lead

A student from the Defense Information School here saved the life of one of his instructors today at the school

by using cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills he learned last week.

functions of a bridge
's not in the lead
econdary facts
The deadline for soldiers here to update the emergency data forms in their personnel records here has been extended to Wednesday.
The staff of the administration office here did not anticipate the extreme number of changes needed when the original deadline was set, said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin B. Hawks, the office’s director.
Re-enlistment bonuses for airmen re-enlisting for a third term were approved today by Congressional leaders in Washington.
The bonuses are an incentive for experienced airmen to re-enlist, said John J. Smith, the secretary of the Air Force.

An engineer from the 12th Marine Logistics Group here earned a position on the All-Armed Forces Women’s Soccer Team today after participating in the weeklong trial camp in Washington.
Cpl. Jennifer L. Logan, who will take the field as a midfield defender, is scheduled to compete in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire Championship in the Netherlands next month.

A former prisoner of war who is now a pilot with the 305th Air Mobility Wing here will be honored in a ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in the base auditorium.
Maj. James L. Ewing returned home July 10 after approximately eight months of imprisonment in Afghanistan.

A blood drive sponsored by the American Red Cross is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the fitness center here.
Base personnel and their families who would like to donate blood can register online at www.redcross.org.

Interview subject matter experts
Confirm info with sources
Use full identification

It is the reporter’s responsibility to ensure all the information is accurate
Avoid backing into sentences
Don't use "clutter" words
Limit sentences to 25-30 words.
One idea, one paragraph
Vary the first word of each paragraph
Use common, easy-to-understand words
Watch out for misplaced modifiers

Avoid implied nouns

Use strong, action verbs

Avoid statements of opinions by attributing sources appropriately

"The robber was described as a 6-foot-tall man with a mustache weighing 150 pounds."
"Two were killed here today."
"Two people were killed in a car accident here today."
"A man with a gun told her to give him all her money."
"A gunman demanded all her money."
Service (when needed), Rank (when applicable), First name, Middle initial, Last name, Job title, Unit, Age (when needed)
AP Stylebook
Copy-editing symbols
First spelling listed
copy-editing process
1. Read first for tone
2. Second, read for errors
3. Read for polish
do you even
shorthand, bro?
interview preparation and guidelines
Determine a story or angle based on what's already been written
Background information for your interview
Find subject matter experts and additional sources
Plan your questions: 5Ws and H + more questions than you think
Define interview purpose and news peg to interviewee
Quiet location with no distractions
Check your equipment
10 Interviewing Basics
1. Be professional
2. Establish rapport
3. Ask open-ended questions, in pairs
4. Ask follow-up and clarification questions
5. Follow what is interesting
6. Do not take notes (for this class), be an active listener
7. Make sure your recorder is recording
8. Confirm facts, especially numbers and names
9. Ask if there is anything they would like to add
10. Get contact information
after the interview
Take notes immediately after the interview and draft your story
Do not transcribe everything. Think about what you want to write about and only transcribe the pertinent information
Full transcript