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How to Write a News Article: Writing News Style

Basic guidelines for creating news articles in print, photos, and video.

About News Style

American journalism has a long history of objectivity – telling a balanced story fairly without taking sides. The reporter tries to include all sides and leave out his or her personal views or opinions, never using the word “I.” He or she tries to write so that one side or another doesn’t get more coverage and reports only verified information.

However, sometimes “just the facts” doesn’t tell the whole story. A good reporter cares about the story and wants to make a connection with the reader. Here’s what you need to consider to successfully do that in news:

  • It’s always a good idea to ask, “Is there more to this story?”

For example – A house catches fire and burns down before help can arrive. Is it just a single accident or is it an example of a problem with roads or the fire department?

  • Adding the personal touch can enhance your story OR turn away readers. What response are you hoping for? How has your audience reacted before?

In the example above - A family may have lost their home. Their experience may be a powerful, moving addition to the story. Or it could be just one more sad story that the public has learned to ignore.

  • Have you covered the story? Have you included all the necessary facts?

For example – Someone may claim to be a victim of police brutality. That could be a dramatic story, but if that person also has a criminal record, is his or her story credible? A good reporter includes both sides so the reader can draw their own conclusion.

  • Include more information through linking. Provide additional websites where readers can go to explore topics further.
  • Sites should be live with a named author. You lose crediblity if you link to someone unknown or unreliable.
  • Provide multiple links for all side to an argument. Don't slant your story by only providing additional or credible information for one side.

  • Analysis is becoming more important today as breaking stories are being reported as they happen via Twitter. When putting the story in context, have you made a well-reasoned case?

In the example above - You might discuss an increase or decrease in violence as a result of the bad economy or as the result of a change in city policy. You could support your assessment with public records. If you attributed the increase in violence to the full moon, how would you substantiate your view?

  • Have you made your involvement in the story transparent?

If you have a personal connection to the story, make it clear in a distinct paragraph. If you’re writing about education, you should indicate if you’re a teacher, have children, or what your interest is in education. This lets the reader evaluate your credibility along with the story.