Week 7 (16/9): News story

newspapers and news apps on an ipad and phone
Photo: sollok29/CC/Wikimedia Commons

You have turned a TV News Report into a Radio News Report

As Radio listeners can’t see any visuals, you must find ways to describe scenes, graphs, incidents, people etc so that the listeners could visualise the report through words.

* You have now written a Print, TV and Radio Report.

WEEK #7 – Assessment Part 1

News Story  350 – 400 Words for Print

Assessment #1 is due this week, but don’t panic. 

Firstly, it is not a difficult or lengthy exercise and you should all have a good start on it by adjusting any of your previous news articles.  Or why not write a completely new story? 

If you need more time to complete the Assessment, we can chat. 

* Before we get into the Assessment, let’s do this week’s lesson first.

Writing for the ear, not the eye.

Let’s just remind ourselves of a few things:

Keep in mind who your audience is and how you are delivering that news.

What’s the story?

Before starting any news story, the most important point to remember is to keep it simple.

Think about how can you tell the story in the most engaging way, without making it too complicated.

Planning

As with any story, you must plan how you want to start your report and how you want to end it. This will keep your story heading in the right direction, and you won’t miss out any important information in the middle.

When planning your report, you will need to consider the Five Ws

  • What – What is the story? Get the facts right before starting your report. 
  • Why – Why is the story important to your readers or listeners? Which points do you need to focus on to get their interest? 
  • Who – Who is involved? Think about who will be able to tell their sides of the story in an interesting way. Make sure they’re available if you wish to interview them or record them at a press conference.
  • Where – Where is the story happening? 
  • When – Has the story already happened, or is it about to happen?

And you may also need to include H

  •  How – How is this going to happen? How can it be stopped?

An example of using the 5 Ws and the H:

For a sports story about a team entering a new season you will need to answer most of these questions:

  • Who is the team? Who is the coach? Who are the prominent players? Who are the supporters?
  • What sport do they play? What is the competition?
  • Where is the competition? Where is the team normally based? Where have they been preparing?
  • When is the competition? How long have they been preparing? Are there any other important time factors?
  • Why are experts or the bookmakers hyping/downplaying their chances of success?  Is it because they finished at the top or bottom of last season’s ladder? Have they lost key players or sacked their coach? Have the rules changed? Are they facing financial challenges?
  • How are they going to keep on top/move up the ladder? How much training and preparation is required? How will they structure their squad to achieve their goals? What will they need to do to win?

And there are the Three Cs

  • Clear as if telling it to one person. Use simple language that everyone will understand. Don’t use a big word if there is a short word that will do.
  • Concise means keep it short. Don’t bore your audience. Stick to the key facts and avoid trying to cram in too much information.
  • Correct – get your facts right! Make sure grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct.

Refer to this video for a detailed explanation of the news writing process

And don’t forget…

The Inverted Pyramid

Place the most important facts at the beginning and work “down” from there.

Ideally, the first paragraph should contain enough information to give the reader/listener/viewer a good overview of the entire story. The rest of the article explains and expands on the beginning.

A good approach is to assume that the story might be cut off at any point due to space/time limitations. Does the story work if the news editor only decides to include the first two paragraphs? If not, re-arrange it so that it does.

This principle applies to any medium.

LISTEN:

Click this link and listen to a radio news story of your choice.

More Tips
  • It’s About People
    News stories are all about how people are affected. In your sports story, you might spend some time focusing on one or more individuals, or the state of team morale, or how the supporters are feeling.
  • Have an Angle
    Most stories can be presented using a particular angle or ‘slant’. This is a standard technique and it can help make the purpose of the story clear and give it focus.

Examples of angles you could use for your sports story:

“Team Determined to Stay On Top”
“Big Ask for First-Year Coach”
“Will Player X be Worth the Huge Pay Packet?”

  • Keep it Objective
    You are completely impartial. If there is more than one side to the story, cover them all. Don’t use “I” and “me” unless you are quoting someone.
  • Quote People
    For example: “United is going to win this season, too,” said coach Dave Winston. “During the off-season, all the players committed 100 per cent to the toughest training program we’ve ever devised.”
  • Don’t Get Flowery
    Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Use some descriptive words but don’t use lots of heavily descriptive language. Don’t go all poetic!

Remember, paragraphs are fact units and in hard news writing they often only contain one sentence.

When you’ve finished, go through the entire story and try to remove any words which aren’t completely necessary.

And most important, don’t plagiarise.  Write your own original story from the facts you gather.

This short video sums it up:

As you can see, all news stories incorporate the same basic principles.

Okay, so now write.

WEEK #7 – Assessment Part 1

News Story: 

Write a news story of 350 – 400 words for print or online (i.e. text only)

Using the 5 Ws, 3 Cs and possibly the H, write a news story of your choice. 

Check that your sources are reliable.

Add an attention-grabbing headline. Do: Keep it short and make sure it is relevant to the article. Don’t: Ask a question, repeat the introductory paragraph or use cliches. Consider SEO.

Below the article leave some blank space then type in the word count. e.g 374 words.

Post it on your WordPress site and email me the link.

 

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