How to Write a News Report
by Chris Angelopoulos
Get the Story Straight
Capturing a moment accurately can be a tall order. News is all about bringing the reader to the scene. This is true no matter the subject material. Being on the scene at a dramatic crash, interviewing a librarian about the latest monthly learning program, or thoroughly investigating a political trend from afar can all bring different levels of blood pressure for the reporter but should always produce reports that connect readers to compelling stories.
Writing down details, quotes, and sources as they are gathered is invaluable to achieving this goal. Speare provides a new way to quickly enter information on the go. The system is as simple as texting. Using speech or text input, the application identifies sentences as the building blocks that will eventually form the article outline. This organizational tool makes it easy to enter information as quickly as it is obtained and to build an accurate story even under the pressure of the moment.
Consider the Audience
The intended audience of a news story should guide every step of the reporting process. Often, a story is aimed at the general public and will be written with mass consumption in mind. This can mean that concepts needed to understand the story context will have to be spelled out clearly with every term defined. A news story can also be aimed at professionals with more specialized knowledge and experience. Writing a story about a new regulation that will specifically affect tax preparers may require a different approach. Referencing the legal code in question, providing methods to get more information, and using language familiar to tax professionals can all be ways to shape an article to address a specific audience.
Write a Great Article
Aside from the conceptual elements, there are procedural considerations when writing a story. The title and first paragraph of an article are the two pronged “hook” that grabs readers’ attention. Writing a good title is about satisfying the dual concerns of relevance and interest. It must be concise, compelling, and give an accurate sense of what the story is all about. After the title, there are a few bits of information that define a news article. Author name, position if it lends credibility to the article, and date all provide relevant information to the reader.
The first paragraph should often start with the city or country if relevant. This gives readers a sense of being on location and participating in the news. Following that, the first section should illuminate the subject of the news. If this is a person, cover the “who” in detail.
Subsequent sections will provide context for the main subject. Answering questions not covered in the first section such as the “what”, “where”, “when”, “why”, and “how”. The goal is to recreate the scene for readers by building an accurate and complete picture of the story. Inserting relevant quotes in either section can add credibility and make the story authentic and compelling.
That's a Wrap!
Relaying an accurate portrayal of events and keeping readers’ attention is a tall but achievable order with the right tools. It can be very helpful to use an app such as Speare to quickly and effortlessly organize sections in order to quickly build a coherent and readable story. This is of paramount importance because “[t]he purpose of journalism is […] to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments. (1)”