Think you can write? Do you have a good grasp of the English language and grammar? If so then many organizations may be willing to pay you for your talents as a freelance journalist. What you write about is up to you, but the best advice is to write about what you know.
In this article I will discuss the four main article types that media organizations generally deal with. Obviously the subjects are many and varied, but the types usually fall into these key four categories.
This type of article is usually short and sweet, reporting a story that has just occurred. It’s designed to offer the reader all the information in the briefest time. The first paragraph describes, who, what, when, where, how and why, as described in my previous article. Most news stories are made up of these articles and they are usually brief with little to no elaboration and report just the facts. For example, “A car driven by an elderly man in Gotham City plunged off a bridge early on Saturday morning.” This first paragraph tells all, while following paragraphs lead into further detail.
A feature article would, for example, take an article like the one above, perhaps select a key point like, why is the bridge unsafe or, should elderly people be driving and flesh it out in detail. The writer would do some hard research, gather background information, conduct interviews, then produce a thorough piece about the subject.
Let’s say the story was about the danger of driving on bridges. The writer would keep a clipping of the hard news story and attempt to contact those involved in the story. If possible, these people would be interviewed and notes taken. He or she would spend time on the net or in a library reading about bridges, collate some statistics about how many accidents, for example, have occurred over the past five years. This, together with photos or illustrations would be neatly packaged and submitted as a feature article about the dangers of bridges. Other feature type articles include, How to…, personal experience, and travel stories among many.
The toughest call of all but by far the most rewarding. It usually takes grit to stick your head into the world of investigative journalism. It’s investigative journalists who scour newspapers for hard news stories, find one and then ask, “Why?” It’s these great writers who have brought down corrupt and sometimes, not so corrupt, governments, bankrupted dodgy businesses, uncovered and exposed illegal rings of all kinds and revealed to the world the suffering in many a far flung country. These writers will use many types of tools to get the job done. They set up intricate surveillance systems, play cat and mouse, conduct stakeouts, often taking months even years to complete a report or story. Definitely a field for the steely nerved and adventurous.
Articles designed to illicit emotion. The story of the man who defied all odds and sailed alone across the raging seas. The chronicled account of the life of a drug-addicted youth living on the streets. Also known as the social article, these types of stories are written to pull our heart strings, are often topical and depict the trials and tribulations of modern day life.
That’s about it for types. Getting ideas comes from newspapers. Keep clippings of stories which interest you then dig. Ask why, research, interview and read. Hope I have helped.