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The Basics of News Writing

The Basics of News Writing

Along with completing one of the prompts, please complete this  APPLICATION .

What is a “News” story? Put simply, it is a nonfiction newspaper story concerning items that are not directly fine arts or sports related. It does not present a personal opinion about a subject, and it often has a more serious tone than that of Features stories. Some examples of News story topics are staff/teacher changes, construction updates, and rodent problems in the school.

To receive a story:

Once you have turned in your application and sample assignment, the best way to get a story is to be persistent. Come to all of the meetings, go to distribution days, ask questions, and stay after the meetings to talk to editors about story options. Simply telling editors once that you want a story will rarely get you a story. Editors are very busy and often do not have the time to go through the database to find writers. Being persistent shows us who really wants the stories and also who is ready to do the investigating necessary to write the articles. If you are persistent, you will be rewarded. Of course, to get a second story, you must be competent and do a good job on the first one.

After you receive an assignment:

  1. You will receive an assignment blank from your editor. This blank has the basics of your story, some questions that need to be answered in the story and some people you should contact.
  1. Interviews are very important for a news story; this is where you will be getting the bulk of the information for your article. For your first and possibly second story, an editor or advisor will accompany you on your interview. Although it can be intimidating interviewing administrators, teachers and other adults, your first few times will help you gain confidence through practice.
  1. Make appointments with the people you will need to interview. Ask your editor for help with this if you need it. Make sure you show up on time for all interviews! Dress appropriately to all interviews-no sloppy clothes!
  1. Bring a tape recorder and a notebook to the interview. Make sure to explain who you are and the purpose of your interview. Before you begin recording the interview, ask permission to tape. Have your questions written down ahead of time-include those your editor gave you and some that you thought of on your own. It is okay if you think of more questions during the interview and ask them, but be sure to be polite and professional at all times. (Journalists don’t get stories by being jerks! They get stories by being friendly with their subjects). If you didn’t get down all that was said, ask your subject to repeat it. Then read back what was said to make sure you have it right. (Misquotes can be fatal to writers and the newspaper’s integrity-be careful when you are interviewing!) Make sure to keep your notes! File them in a safe place at home even after the article is published. Reporters need to keep their notes in the event that someone says you misquoted them.

Writing the Story:

  1. The inverted pyramid style: This is the style of writing we use for most of our stories. In this style, you place the most important details and items most related to Fremd students first.
  1. Attention grabbing lead: Each story should begin with a short paragraph that incorporates relevant facts. It should not contain quotations.
  1. Editorializing: DO NOT DO THIS! Editorializing means writing a story in a manner that reflects the writer’s personal opinion and not an unbiased manner. (Example: Fremd’s wonderful cafeteria will soon be demolished. Although some people might find that Fremd’s cafeteria is wonderful, this statement is obviously not a proven fact.) Note: Opinions CAN be expressed in specific quotations by people other than the writer, as this is not editorializing.
  1. Paragraphs: News paragraphs should be concise and to the point. They are usually only one or two sentences in length.
  1. Quotations:

* We use present tense verbs and formal titles to introduce quotations.

Example:

Assistant Principal Mo Tharp says that the office will be expanded.

“We see a need to have more room for secretaries and counselors in the future,”

Tharp said.

* All quotations should be introduced, in a similar fashion to the example above.

* Always use the order person said (i.e. Tharp said) instead of said person.

* Once again, be careful not to misquote people. If you have any doubts on a quotation, please check it with the person you interviewed.

* Make sure to have quotations throughout your article. This will help keep your readers interested.

 

  • Type your story: You can do this at home, in the library, or in the Logue office. Please talk to an editor or adviser before using Logue computers. We use Mac computers for layout, so it is imperative that all stories be saved as TEXT FILES. You can type your story on a PC as long as you save it as a text file. After you are done with your first draft of your story, save it to a disk and give it to your editor along with a printed copy of the story.

 

  • Editing: After giving an editor your first draft, the editing process begins! Usually several news editors review the story, make corrections and then give it to a copy editor. After the copy editors are done, you will get your story back for corrections. We ask that you make the corrections on your disk or one of the News disks-your editor will tell you. This process then begins again and continues until it reaches publication quality. Depending on the story, writers can be asked to make corrections up until we send the paper to press. Do not be discouraged if your first stories need a lot of editing-it often takes a few tries to get the news style down.

 

  • Deadlines: One of the best ways to greatly increase your chances of getting another story is to follow deadlines strictly! Deadlines will always be written on your assignment blank, so you have no excuses. Writers who turn in sloppy late stories rarely get second chances! Writers who do not follow the deadlines given will almost definitely have to come in during layout-that is, spend Friday night, all of Saturday and part of Monday and Tuesday working on their story! Editors are here to help you, and if you are having trouble with a story, the best thing is to get help early instead of waiting to the last minute.

 

A final note:

Working on a school newspaper can be a great experience and can help you in the future. Skills learned through working on the Logue, such as interpersonal communication, writing, editing, and time management skills, will prove themselves useful in whatever you do in the future. Universities view working on a school newspaper one of the most valuable high school activities. And with a reputation like The Viking Logue has, it is no wonder that some of our former editors attended Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Dartmouth and other prestigious universities.

We are glad that you have shown interest in joining the Logue and look forward to getting to know you in the future. If you have any questions about the newspaper or the News Department, please feel free to contact our editors or advisers. Thanks for coming, and good luck in your journalistic endeavors!

Logue Office

755-2810

 

 

The student news site of William Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois
The Basics of News Writing