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Notes on News Writing

Date post: 02-Aug-2015
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Page 1: Notes on News Writing


Page 2: Notes on News Writing

News is new information or current events

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News is an oral or written report of an event that happened, is

happening, and will still happen.

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News usually has at least one of these elements:


The closer your audience is to the event, the greater its news value. It may nearness to physical distance/space, interest or kinship.

Impact is determined by the number of people affected, the number of boats that sink, the number of cars wrecked, etc. The more people affected, the more boats sunk, the bigger the impact of the story.


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"New" is a big part of news. If it happened just before deadline, it's bigger news than if it happened last week. Even "big" stories last only a week or so. News, like fish, is better fresh.


If it happens to the mayor, it is bigger news than if it happens to the barangay captain. The public cares more about celebrities than they do about people they don't know.

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If an event is unusual, bizarre, the first, the last, or once-in-a-lifetime, it is has more news value than if it is something that happens all the time. Conflict. War, politics and crime are the most common news events of all. If everyone got along, there wouldn't be much news.

Relevance How does the story affect the reader? If there's no effect at all, maybe there's no news.

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How can I use this information? Home, business and leisure news sections have sprouted in newspapers in an attempt to give readers news they can really use.

Human interest

A story may be weak on the other news values, but be interesting anyway. It can be as simple as an interview with a fascinating person who does unusual things. If people are talking about it, it's news, even if it doesn't meet the criteria of our other news values.

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News Reporting boils down to three things:

• Accuracy

• Clarity

• Style

accurate – truthful – informative – factual

clear – coherent – concise – simple (grammatically correct)

objective /unbiased/ impersonal -- inverted pyramid structure / suspended interest for news feature

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Neil Hopp's "First Five" formula

• 1. Effective lead. Focused, short, memorable.• 2. A second paragraph that amplifies the lead.• 3. A third paragraph that continues to build detail.• 4. Nut graph. Provides context or tells reader why

this is important.• 5. Power quote. An interesting quote that propels

meaning. Not just a fluffy quote that gets in the way.

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Lead - the opening sentence or paragraph

The lead, also called slant or angle, is the beginning of a newspaper’s story. It contains the most important information, which attracts and sustains reader’s attention and interest to continue reading the news story. 

Determine which of the five W’s and H is the most important to your story, and then place those

elements in the lead.

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What are the rules for a good lead?

• Keep it short

• Get to the point

• Focus on the action

• Hook the reader

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• Cluttered. More than one idea.

• Flabby. It says, "I don't know what this story is about."

• Dull. Ho-hum. No tension. No energy that drives the writing forward.

• Mechanical. No human voice, no "music." Just another burger and fries.

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COMMON PROBLEMS IN LEADS• Closed. A private conversation between

those who speak the same jargon. It says, "Stay away. You don't know enough to read this."

• Predictable. Written in journalese or bureaucratese. Cliches. No surprises, no unexpected words of phrases that are unexpected and that delight us as they capture and clarify a news event. No "chuckle quality."

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• Information. Whets the readers appetite, promises delivery.

• Voice. A human voice talking to the reader. Provides the "music" to support the meaning of what is being read.

• Surprise. The promise of something new.

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• Focus. Make a specific promise to the reader, and then deliver.

• Context. Involve the reader. Show clear, immediate significance. Answer the question, "Why should I read this story?"

• Form. Implies a design, a plan, a structure, a pattern that will help the reader understand the meaning.

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Types of Lead

• Conventional/Summary Lead

• Grammatical Beginning Lead

• Novelty Lead

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Conventional/Summary Lead

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1.       Who Lead or Person Lead.Pattern: Who-What-Where-When-Why-How

Dr. Elenita S Binay, City of Makati mayor, and Dr. Alfred E Tong, Eduquest Inc. president, lauded 11 Makati Science High School Science and Technology, English, and Mathematics teachers for their contribution in the application of innovative teaching strategies using computer technology during the Isang Parangal sa mga Makabagong Guro at the Makati Science Audio Visual Room, Oct. 14.

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2.      What Lead or Event LeadPattern: What-Who-Where-When-Why-How

A relief program was initiated by the Marikina Science High School Marian Youth Movement under the stewardships of Mrs. Angelita A Condat, Mrs. Regina G Gauna, Mrs. Ana L Ligon, and Mrs. Julita F Mendoza at the Provident Village, Marikina City, Oct. 9.

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3.      When Lead or Time LeadPattern: When-Who-What-Where-Why-How

Last Oct. 7, Basilio G dela Cuadra, Makati Science High School senior student trained by Miss Gina B Balgos, Miss Ma. Victoria C Serra, and Mrs. Raquel A Limosinero, bagged first place during the First City of Makati Statistics Quiz Bee sponsored by the Statistics and Civil Registration Offices at the City Hall of Makati.

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4. Where Lead or Place LeadPattern: Where-Who-What-When-Why-How

At the City Hall of Makati, Dr. Elenita S Binay recognized Mrs. Ruth M Ocampo, Makati Science High School Music teacher, as one of the Five Outstanding Mothers of Makati, Oct. 10.

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5. Why Lead or Cause LeadPattern: Why-Who-What-Where-When-How

After topping the Boy Scouts of the Philippines–City of Makati Student Traffic Assistance Program, Mr. Carlos D L Ferrer, City of Makati scout executive, honored Mr. Lorenzo R Alberto, Makati Science High School scoutmaster, as the Best City of Makati Scout Master, Oct. 1.

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6. How Lead or Manner LeadPattern: How-Who-What-Where-When-Why

Garnering 16 awards, 11 gold and 5 silver medals, IV-Albert Einstein, under the direction of Jacques S Lynn, bagged first place in the Ang Pilibusterismo: Pampaaralang Dulang Pagtatanghal at the Makati Science High School Audio Visual Room, Oct. 11.

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1.       Subject Noun Lead. It begins with a noun and its modifier.

The Philippine National Police will deploy 7000 policemen in Metro Manila for the Sept. 21 pro-democracy rally.

2.      Gerund Phrase Lead. It begins with a verbal noun that always ends in –ing.

Clipping the power of the Supreme Court of the Philippines to decide on economic issues is one of the constitutional amendments being sought by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

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3.      Infinitive Phrase Lead. It begins with the preposition to, the sign of the infinitive, followed by the present form of the verb, the stem of infinitive.

To protect the public  and  to  police  its own ranks, the 37 strong member of the Philippine Veterinary Drug Association (PVDA) is completing its comprehensive code of ethics, according to Dr. Julius O Perez, PVDA president.

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4.      Participial Phrase Lead. It begins with the present participle (following), past participle (followed), perfect participle (having followed), or passive perfect participle (having been followed) form of the verb.

Stricken by the widespread economic malaise in Asia, the nine-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations will restructure trade and investment agreements, including the acceleration of the tariff reduction timetable and the relaxation of investment rules, to cushion their economies from the impact of the worsening crisis.

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5.      Prepositional Phrase Lead. It begins with a preposition like aboard, about, above, according to, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, in addition to, in spite of, into, like, near of, off, on, onto, out, over, through, to, toward, under, underneath, until, up, with, or within.

On their rooftops, victims of typhoon Ondoy spent more than 16 hours, sleepless , damp and hungry. On Sept. 26, thousands were left devastated in different cities of Marikina, Pasig, Quezon City and towns of Cainta, San Mateo, and Tanay of Rizal.

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6.      Causal Clause Lead. It begins with because, due, or since.

Because of higher financial charges, Benpres Holdings Corporation reported a 17.9 percent decline in comparable consolidated profits in the first nine months of the year to PhP1.44 billion from  PhP1.75 billion posted in the same period in 1997.

7.      Concessive Clause Lead. It begins with although, though, or despite.

Despite itself being a victim of Ondoy, UST reached out to devastated towns in Rizal and Bulacan, holding relief drives from Sept. 29-Oct. 2.

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8.      Conditional Clause Lead. It begins with if, provided, or unless.

Unless the government, the private sector, and the public adopt the necessary changes to meet the challenges facing the country’s textbook program, there will be a severe shortage of textbooks in public schools nationwide.

9.      Noun Clause Lead. It begins with that, what, when, where, which, who, whom, or whose.

What President Estrada does, son Jinggoy emulates. As the tired cliché goes, like father like son.

10. Temporal Clause Lead.  It begins with as soon as, before, when, while, or since.

While pigs suffer FMD or foot-and-mouth disease, hog   farmers   and meat suppliers in the provinces are also suffering from FMD or financial and mental distress.

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Novelty or Unorthodox Leads

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1.       Atmosphere Lead. It consists of words or phrases that help portray the mood or setting of the story.

A few kilometers away from busy Ortigas Avenue in the bustling Mandaluyong City-Pasig City junctions is a new quiet community, a cool haven of suburban middle-class living. It is nestled in the woodsy, foliaged portion of Brookside Hills.

2.      Astonisher or Exclamatory Lead. It calls for an exclamation that is primarily used for expressing the extent to whom somebody or to which something impresses the writer.

Nothing can stop this rally!President Joseph Ejercito Estrada asked organizers of

the pro-democracy rally scheduled tomorrow in the City of Makati to call off the protest because of its negative effects on the economy.

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3.      Background Lead. It consists of words or phrases describing the place that over shadows the person and the event.

The Philippines is not the only country preoccupied with centennial celebrations.

4.      Cartridge or Punch Lead. It tells the gist of the news with the use of abrupt, definite, and short words possible.

No new car. No new guns either.Not one piece of firearm will be added to the arsenal of the

Philippine National Police (PNP) next year, leaving 22 percent or over one-fifth of the PNP’s total uniformed force solely relying on nightsticks as their battle against crime.

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5.      Contrast Lead. It describes two separate events to point out extremes and opposites.

Welcome sunlight greeted most part of Northern and Central Luzon yesterday, but a weekend darkened by a  tropical  depression has left a trail of death and destruction.

6.      Descriptive or Picture Lead. It describes a person, a place, or an event through vivid words and expressions.

Clutching her baby girl, Mrs. Lourdes Arquiza could not control her tears when she heard that her husband, Capt. Oscar Arquiza, was sentenced yesterday to die by lethal injection.

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7.      Direct Quotation Lead. It addresses the readers.Don’t bother to unpack those sweaters this Misa de Gallo season: you won’t be needing them.

8.      Epigram Lead. It begins with an adage, a maxim, or a quotation and stresses the moral of the story.

Crime does not pay. But Romy Corrales learned this only after he had been collared by the police for being a fake immigration agent.

9.   Question Lead. It raises a query to arouse reader’s interest.Do we want our very important government officials to

ride in the common and lowly FX Tamaraw, the mega taxi of the masses?

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10.      Figurative Lead. Triteness is the main danger of this kind of lead. Common sense should dictate when to use it.

The Mother of democracy is finally home at 76. (This was about the death of former President Cory Aquino)

11.   Freak Lead.  It tries to be different by using typographical effects.

For sale: a babyMrs. Carol Conag, a Tondo resident, said yesterday that

since she could no longer feed her baby, she might as well sell it. There were no immediate takers.

12.   Parody or Teaser Lead. It begins with a well-known allusion, jingle, poem, song, quotation, or verse.

I’m sorry, my judge.

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1. Keep paragraphs short.

2. Paragraphs limited to one to three sentences are preferred.

3. Each paragraph should contain only one idea.

4. Remember short paragraphs encourage readers to continue reading.

TIPS on Writing the BODY

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1.Eliminate the word "that" whenever possible.2.For past events, report it happened "Friday," NOT "last Friday." Eliminate the word "last." For future events, report it will happen "Monday," NOT "next Monday." Eliminate the word "next.“3.Eliminate the "be" verb. Write "she will resign" instead of "she will be resigning. "Write in future tense (will) instead of future progressive tense (will be "ing").4.Eliminate words such as "when asked" and "concluded." These are weak transitions. Just report what was said.5.A long title should follow the name. A title that follows the name should be lowercased and set off in commas. Shorter titles that precede names should be capitalized.

EDITING the NEWS article

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6. Avoid the contractions of he'd and they'd. "He'd" can mean both "he had" and "he would," and "they'd" can mean both "they had" and "they would.“

7. Always double-check the spelling of names.8. Make sure numbers match the items listed.9. Make sure "only" is placed properly in a sentence. The location

of "only" can change the meaning of a sentence.10. Write. Rewrite. Revise. Rewrite. Revise. Edit. Revise. Edit. Edit.

The first version of a story is NOT good enough to go into print. Someone once said THERE IS NO GREAT WRITING, ONLY GREAT REWRITING.

11. Read the story out loud to catch awkward sentence constructions.

EDITING the NEWS article

Page 43: Notes on News Writing

Pointers to Remember:• Keep your story brief. Limit sentence length to 23-25

words.• Be accurate.• Be objective. Writer is detached from the

report/event.• Report only legitimate news of your post and its

activities.• Include as many names of local people as possible.• Look for the unusual (new angle).• Avoid one-source stories.• Use style guide