News Writing Instructions
Hard news articles are written so that the reader can stop reading at any time, and still come away with the whole story. This is very different from an essay, which presumes that the audience will stick around to the end, and can therefore build to a finish. There is no need to put a “conclusion” on a news story. Each individual reader will “end” the story whenever he or she gets bored. A particularly interested reader (and your teacher) will keep reading to the end.
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The Headline: Convey the general message in as many words as will fit (usually quite a small space). A headline should be informational, and can be clever, as long as the cleverness does not interfere with the information or earn groans from readers.
The Lead: The lead, or the first sentence of the story, is arguably the most important part of the article. Based on the content of that first sentence, a reader will either look deeper into the story, or move on to the next one.
· The who, what, when, where, how, why lead.
· Experimental leads. If you answer the “5 w’s and one h” on the second or third sentences, you can be more creative with the first. The results can flounder and die, or have a great impact. Some examples for the pig story:
o Tailgate the pig lay snoring in the middle of Interstate 94, oblivious to the fire trucks and squad cars that had gathered around him.
o Geoffrey Saint never could have imagined what he’d meet in the middle of Interstate 94 during his drive to church Sunday morning.
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