How to Write a Newspaper Article

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The first thing prospective reporters must know is that newspaper articles are written differently depending on their format, or purpose. Newspaper articles can be divided into one of three categories: news articles, feature stories, and columns.

How to Write a News Article:

Pure news articles are the most structured type of newspaper article. A specific format must be followed in writing this type of article. The purpose of this article is to convey facts of an event to an interested reader.

Tips for writing a news article:

1) As with all newspaper articles, it should be set off with a headline. The headline shouldn’t be a summarization of the article; instead it should serve the purpose of getting the reader’s attention.

2) The story should start with a “lead paragraph” which is the summary of the story. Do not tease at the beginning or summarize at the end as you sometimes see on television news. Lay all your cards out on the table. The lead paragraph should include the who, what, when, where, and why of the story.

3) After the lead paragraph comes explanation and amplification, which deals with illuminating details. Use discretion in choosing details to include. Also, some details may not be as important as others. Put in order of importance from greatest to least.

Don’t feel the need to include everything you know, but do include everything you feel is important.

4) If the average reader will be confused reading the story, fill in the gaps with background information. When in doubt, give that information. Almost every piece on the O.J. Simpson case included in the explanation and amplification section the basic information on what he was on trial for even though it was basically common knowledge.

5) Do not use the first person. If you feel that it is absolutely important, think about writing a feature story or a column instead (see below).

6) NO BIAS. Personal prejudices should not find their way into the article. Again, use of an op-ed or column forum is recommended for personal opinions.

7) When possible, use quotes to flavor the article. However, don’t use quotes for the sake of using quotes- make sure they are relevant. Also, make sure the quotes aren’t a grammatical embarrassment—avoid run-ons especially.


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