A newspaper article has to be crisp and to the point. It shouldn't be repetitive, extensively elaborate, or too overwhelming. Right from the topic chosen to the language to the grammar to the presentation order, everything needs to be precise. The following section will explain the essential features and elements of a good news article.
Perhaps your editor has given you an event to cover, or you feel that an issue needs to be strongly voiced to the public, but unless you don't do the task efficaciously so that it has a powerful impact on the readers, the effort is unlikely to be fruitful. You see, there is a difference in the way one individual comprehends the meaning or implication of the words conveyed, which is why, to ensure that you gather maximum readers' attention, it is crucial to follow a systematic approach. This is explained through the following tips.
This tip applies in case you have the freedom to select what you wish to write on. Go for a topic that appeals to the masses, something that can grab their attention. It could be anything as sensitive as racial discrimination to something as encouraging as homeless animal adoption. If a topic has many aspects to it, ensure that you specify the facet that you intend to cover in your article. When it comes to a newspaper, it is always preferable to write on a recent event that has been stirring things around lately.
The facts and information that are presented in the article need to be accurate and authentic. For all the people you have interviewed, all the quotes that you have used, and all the claims and findings that you have highlighted in the article, it is imperative to cite attribution and sources to make the article credible to the readers. In the absence of these, both the writer and the newspaper that publishes it comes under the scrutiny for want of authenticity.
The 5Ws and 1H stand for Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How. These 6 elements should be crisply present in your leading statement. A lead (or lede) is pretty much a briefly put summary of what is to be found in the body of the article. It is the first section of a news article which ideally shouldn't exceed more than 2 lines. It should be quite strong and appealing in the way it is drafted, so as to arouse the readers to read further into the matter.
While writing the body of the article, it is highly beneficial to use the inverted pyramid format to hold the attention and interest of the readers. In this format, the primary or main information and facts are presented first, followed by the comparatively lesser important facts. This way, the initial paragraphs become more informative than the later ones. This is done while keeping the psyche of the readers in mind, as not all readers have the time or the inclination to read the entire article till the last period. Therefore, even if they read the first few sentences of the article, they at least get the main gist of the content.
When writing about an event, it is only logical to follow the order in which the event has taken place. However, if an incident worth highlighting has occurred in the later phase of the event, then try to highlight it in your leading line itself so that the reader knows that there is more after the first few lines. If possible, try to include those main highlights early on in the article, while not overemphasizing on the not-so-important happenings in the event.
Surely, you must have scanned through many news articles and observed how concise and succinct they are. If a given point or fact can be presented in 10 words, do not use 20 instead. Also, omit sentences/phrases/words that seem repetitive in nature and give an impression of unnecessarily extending the point.
Oftentimes, when you tend to write on a subject that is dear to you or quite close to your heart, a sort of biasness seems to surround the tone of the article. As a reporter/journalist, you must incorporate both sides of the argument without appearing to be partial to any particular side. Your claims and support should also be backed with an authentic source from an authoritative body.
It is very important to be thoroughly sure of the article, be it the spelling, grammar, citations, tenses, or the flow of the content. Another crucial addition that you may be required to make is to add a brief background description of the event, in case you're writing a follow-up of an event that has already taken place. Any writer or journalist must assume that the reader has no prior knowledge about the subject. Hence, every time a reader is attracted to your awesome lead, ensure that he or she is not left blank at the end of the article. Proofreading again and again is quite a necessity when it comes to eliminating trivial errors and typos in the content.
You must conclude the article by reinstating the main findings of the article. Other than that, if you have written on a subject that has the potential for possible developments in the future, your conclusion should always include the next step that is likely to occur in the process. It should also have citations of the organization, phone numbers, or websites where more details about the subject can be found. This way, the reader will have an option to read more depending upon his or her preference.
A libel is referred to a publication which contains malicious content which is written without any concrete research, proof, or credibility. By law, any such article writer or publication is accused of spoiling a person's public image and is liable for fine, imprisonment, or perhaps, loss of job and goodwill. So, ensure that your article is backed by absolute authenticity and credible sources.
The aforementioned tips would have given the aspiring writer in you, an idea of how news writing is different from other forms of writing. You are restricted to a lot of rules and regulations, which, in fact, make this type of article look completely professional and neutral in nature, how it ideally should be.