There are four elements you need to focus on when writing a news report. These are the facts, context, impact and emotion. The success of your story depends on how you combine these elements. If you are new to writing news reports, there are some tips from The Doe you should follow.
The Four Elements
Knowing what the four elements are is important, but you need to dig into them a bit more.
You cannot call your content a news story if you do not have the facts. Without facts, the piece is a lifestyle article or an opinion piece. The public expects you to present facts and not opinions. They also expect that you will follow sound fact-checking processes. The Doe is a trusted, verified, anonymous blog that you are able to contribute to.
When it comes to news writing, context will tell people why they should care or why they should read the article. From the perspective of the writer, the context helps you determine what the reader needs to know. According to the American Press Institute, context is a good way to gain new readers by providing a relatable entry point. Context is the surrounding circumstance of the facts in the news story.
The impact will touch on why readers should care about the news piece. News writing is an art form and when something is taken from the official wire, you have to weave a story that readers connect with. The impact will keep your readers hooked beyond the headline or opening sentence of your article. This will make them questions what the potential consequences of the story are and how the series of events covered will impact them and their loved ones.
The last element is emotion and the American Press Institute can help with this. They state that the emotion grabs attention and will create a communal feeling. To have a magical news piece, you need to evoke emotion. News writers have a fine line between the cold facts and the tug of the emotions.
When it comes to emotion, the author has to let the reader decide on this. The American Press Institute points out that a writer must not dictate the audience’s feelings. Instead, they need to allow the reader to choose the emotion to feel on their own.
Balancing Style And Facts
Your readers will want to know the facts and what or who will be affected by these facts. Background information and related stories can help form context and emotional connections while humanizing the piece. To create a gripping news report, there are some tips that you should follow.
There are 5W and an H that the facts will answer and they are who, where, when, what, why, and how. Journalists have the responsibility of ensuring the facts are accurate and relatively complete. If you have to write the report before you have all the facts, you need to be open about that in the piece.
Active voice should be used when writing a news report. This voice is more understandable and will have more impact on the reader. Sentences should be short and concise while making use of action verbs. The language needs to be simple and without words that do not contribute to the story overall.
An example of this is the weather or how someone is dressed. This does not have to be included because it does not impact the story. You should focus more on the questions the reader might have.
Writing A Good Lead
The lead is the first few sentences of your piece and they have to be strong enough to grab the attention of the reader. They have to make the reader want to read more.
If you have a hard news story that is up-to-the-minute or breaking, you should include as many facts as you can in the summary of the story. If you have a soft news story like a human-interest piece, you can place the facts in the body of the piece.
Leads tell your reader what the piece is about and why it is important. It also tells the reader why they need to read the rest of the story. You should think about this from the perspective of telling your friend the latest news.
An error many people make with leads is that they focus on more than the one main idea. This can confuse readers as they will not know what the story is about.
You also need to avoid burying the lead. This happens when you do not emphasize the most important part of the story and begin the piece with the secondary information. As the lead is meant to lure your readers in, burying it will lose the effect and the reader may not continue reading past the first few sentences.
The lead should also be easy to understand and not full of jargon. This will exclude certain readers and you want to have everyone read your piece.
Examples Of Good Leads
There are many examples of amazing leads that grab your attention. You must look at them and consider if you would want to read on.
Clear Voice has this good lead: “The one-in-a-million shot came in. Hell froze over and a month full of Sundays filled the calendar. Don Larsen pitched a no-hit, none-to-first, no-run game in the World Series.”
Bryd Pinkerton of NPR crafted this lead: “The second floor of a Bavarian palace in Munich houses a library with high ceilings and one of the most extensive collections of Latin text in the world. About 20 researchers from across the world work in small offices around it.”
Tips For Better Writing
There are other tips that you can use to improve your writing regardless of the genre you are looking at. These tips can boost your news reports as well as the other content you want to create.
When creating news reports, you should follow the inverted pyramid. The largest part of the pyramid will be at the top or start of your piece and this is where all the pressing facts should be. The least compelling elements of the piece should be at the top of the pyramid or the end of your piece.
You should avoid long and complicated words. A news story is not where you impress people with your command of the English language or intellect.
The sentences you use also need to be short and avoid many forms of punctuation. There are four basic punctuation rules you should use in your piece.
The first is a simple subject-verb-object form. You should also not use too many commas and there are 8 comma rules to follow. Every paragraph should introduce a new idea while being short and to the point. To shorten the paragraph try dropping transition words when appropriate. Do not use more than two prepositional phrases.
The objective of a great news report is to get the facts across in an easy to understand and compelling manner. You need to get to the point and use short sentences.