News Report Writing
What Is News
News is an account of what is happening around us. It may involve current events, new initiatives or ongoing projects or issues. But a newspaper does not only print news of the day. It also prints background analysis, opinions, and human interest stories.
On the surface, defining news is a simple task. Choosing what is news can be harder. The reporter chooses stories from the flood of information and events happening in their community and in the world. Though stories are normally selected because of their importance, emotion, impact, timeliness and interest, all these factors do not have to coincide in each and every story!
Identifying The Kind Of Story
This is how journalists refer to news of the day. It is a chronicle of current events/incidents and is the most common news style on the front page of your typical newspaper. Stories that fall under the umbrella of hard news often deal with topics like business, natural calamities, politics and international news. Hard news stories are written in such a way that the reader can stop reading at any time and still come away with the story.
This is a term for all the news that isn’t time-sensitive. It usually features light topics such as entertainment, celebrity news and other news about human interest. Soft news is therefore sometimes referred to as infotainment.
Although they an; factual, most of the times the items in this type of news are a product of the reporter’s curiosity.
A news feature takes one step back from the headlines. It explores an issue. News features are less time-sensitive than hard news but no less newsworthy. They can be an effective way to write about complex issues too large for the terse style of a hard news item.
Features are journalism’s shopping center. A feature takes a certain angle and explores it by interviewing the people involved and drawing conclusions from that information. They’re full of interesting people, ideas, color, lights, action and energy; storytelling at its height! The writer could also take an important issue of the day and explains it to the reader through comments from people involved in the story.
A feature story can be informative, entertaining, and persuasive or may simply satisfy the reader’s curiosity about a particular topic. The article may also provide more information about an important issue; offer an opinion about current affairs or simple present a personal or humorous perspective on modern day life. A personal tone can be created through the use of informal, colloquial (slang) and first person narrative.
The editorial expresses an opinion. The editorial page of the newspaper lets the writer comment on issues in the news. All editorials are personal but the topics must still be relevant to the reader.
Some editorials may address both sides of the coin in the form of a debate between two writers where one speaks for the topic and the other against.
One of the most popular parts of any newspaper is the sports page. It is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to keep abreast with favourite team, players and trends in the sports world. Articles from the sports page appeal to a broad range of people and should remain neutral, yet informative.
Apart from the broader generalizations above, many newspapers also carry sections on varied topics depending on the type of readers they target.
Business and Finance
The business section might contain media and advertising, world business, the economy of the country that you live in, the stock markets, company researches, mutual funds, and stock portfolios.
This section contains information about movies, radio, television and other activities for entertainment. It includes games and puzzles, comic strips and the daily horoscope.
Travel and Tourism
Articles in this section will highlight places of tourist interest. They might highlight one city or state and give a detailed description about that place. The main aim of these articles is to draw the reader into visiting these places.
Fitness and Health
The fitness and health section will contain news covering facts about fitness and nutrition, new health care policies, and mental health and behavior. It can also provide beauty tips.
The concept of members of the public, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information is called citizen journalism. This allows people without professional training in journalism to voice their opinion.
Citizen journalism is a part of the print media to some extent. However, it is more rampant globally through the internet. This could be through a blog or on an online forum. Even though citizen journalism is a fairly recent phenomenon in India, it is still home to many citizen journalism websites, Merinews.com. Whitedrums.com, Purdafash.com, to name a few.
Structure of The Story
Choosing what to include in your story is only one part of writing a news story. If you wish to do the job well, you must also think about the way in which you want to write it. The structure of a news story (hard & soft news & features) is simple: a lead and the body.
The lead of a Hard news story is typically the first paragraph ofthe story. It provides a clear and concise overview of the main points dealt within the story. It should incorporate as many of the 5 “W’s” ofjournalism (who, what, where, when and why) as possible, thereby, conveying to the reader what he or she will be learning about in the piece. In many ways. the lead of a hard news story is instrumental in capturing the reader’s attention.
e.g. “Resident doctors of K.E.M hospital held a rally in Mumbai on Wednesday afternoon to protest against reservation of seats in government medical colleges — (Can you identify the 5 W’s in this lead?)
The lead of soft news story should present the subject of the story by allusion. This type of opening is somewhat literary. Like a novelist, the role of the writer is to grab the attention of the reader. (e.g. “limit four years ago, the children of Dharavi had no place to study …”) Once the reader is drawn in, the 5 “W’s” should be incorporated into the body of the story.
In a feature there are many ways to create the lead for the story. The reader’s interest can be provoked by making an unusual statement or inviting the reader to take a stand by making a controversial statement. This will create a relationship between the writer and the reader thereby establishing the writer’s tone.
As a reporter, you are the eyes and cars for the reader. The body of the story is where the reader finds detailed information of three kinds: details, comments from people involved in the story and background information to help him understand the story more deeply.
The headline and lead usually raise more questions than they answer. The reader will find out what happened and one or two more details through them but will probably be interested in finding out much more. That is the function of the body of the story.
Remember, at all times, that the contents of the story should be unbiased and completely fact based. Sources of the information should be clearly cited and integrated into the piece.