Week 4: The write stuff

Getting the news out in Harry Potter. Photo: Karen Roe/flickr/CC


Professional story presentation

Submitting a news story for a News Conference assessment is exactly the same as submitting a story for a newspaper or website – only the format will change.

Each will have the same basic structure and text requirements:

  • Headline
  • Main photo with caption
  • Byline
  • Body text
  • Additional photos, graphics, video or audio players spaced through the body text

When it comes to a story for your News Conference portfolios the subject guide is clear on the format: A Word document.

Structure: Follow the bullet-point list above. It is acceptable to go picture/headline.

Keep it simple: No columns, indents, underlining, funky fonts, excess punctuation.

Keep it clean: Read your story carefully

  • No spelling mistakes (Word spell check will alert you to issues but it’s not foolproof)
  • No grammar errors
  • Correct punctuation
  • Distinct paragraphs of one or two sentences

Sample real estate story

Things to avoid:

  • Capitalising random words – only proper/place names or titles should have first letter capped
  • The use of italics. This type face is used very sparingly by newspapers and websites
  • Use the past tense – you are describing events that have already occurred
  • Don’t start sentences with a number
  • Headlines that are questions
  • American capitalisation in headlines
  • A bibliography at the end of your story. Use in-story attributions (you can hyperlink)


  • Have fun with headlines
  • Introduce quotes nice and high in the story
  • Introduce interviewees with a non-quote paragraph
  • Leave a space between paragraphs
  • Spell out per cent
  • Spell out one to nine then use numerals for numbers until you get to the really big ones
  • Indent pictures into body copy (sparingly)

Correct quoting

Cunninghams Real Estate director and former president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW John Cunningham said the market was “abnormal” at every level.

“Selling very late at night is not normal,” he said. “There are multiple buyers on most properties and they’re all jockeying to get their offers accepted.

“It’s a real pressure cooker. A lot of the buyers are not even bothering with building and pest inspections.

“We’ve also had plenty of sales where the buyers didn’t see the property or only the husband or wife saw it.”

Note: Use only said in attributing quotes. Avoid variations such as exclaimed or thundered and adverbs such as angrily that modify the verb.


Ciao to change on Norton Street by Ryan Gandiaga. 


One way of getting ahead in this game: Playing hardball by Konrad Marshall.

Here’s something to prove grammar doesn’t have to dull: The faults in our tiny, little sports stars by Steve Rushin. 

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