The newspaper: some would say it's a dying art. With the availability of the internet, millions can get the news at their fingertips, so why do we need papers delivered to our doorstep anymore? Well, it's definitely true that the internet has become a game changer, but people have always needed to be informed, and the newspaper has fulfilled that need for a long time.
Written news may be changing, but it will forever be important in our society. The rest of this lesson discusses how to write an article in the style of a physical newspaper.
Step 1: Structure
The first step is to understand the structure of your newspaper article, as it's different from other forms of print. Structure is the arrangement or format of the writing. But remember, newspapers aren't structured like novels, essays, or even encyclopedia articles.
First of all, newspapers are formatted into columns, where one article may span four or five columns across the page. Large, wordy paragraphs are not appealing for the column style. Instead write short, concise paragraphs, perhaps only 2 or 3 sentences long.
Notice the number of columns this article spans
With this in mind, you will not structure your paragraphs like you normally do for an essay or English paper. You don't need to have a topic sentence, which is the opening sentence of a paragraph that states what that paragraph will be about, or a closing sentence, which provides closure in the final sentence of a paragraph. Adding these will make your paragraphs too long.
Now that we've discussed the overall structure, there are a few more items a newspaper article needs. One is a title, which is the name of the written work. Newspapers have limited space, so you need a short, but strong title that will inform readers what the article is about. In addition, it needs to also draw the attention of the readers. You may want to save writing the title until after the rest of the article is written.
The last item you need is a byline, which is the final line that states the author of the piece. A number of writers contribute to a newspaper, and so each article needs to state who wrote that piece. Remember that you can't forget to add the byline when you finish writing the article.
Lastly, you need to remember that the main focus of a news article is to give unbiased information. Unless you're writing a persuasive piece, it's really important to remain objective. Furthermore, you want to limit unnecessary language. You won't need figurative language like metaphors, hyperbole, personification, analogies, and even simple things like snark or interpretation. Again, your focus is solely on describing the incident or topic of the article. Figurative language often will only take away from the facts of the case.
Step 2: Content
The next step is to determine your content, which is the information found within the article. Each newspaper article will have its own topic, like a burglary, car accident, award that was won, or a sporting event. Newspapers have local news, national news, and even world news. Any event or incident worth mentioning can be found in a newspaper.
Before you begin writing, decide on the content you need to make a fulfilling article. To do this, start with the answers to the five W questions: who, what, when, why, and where. You can also consider the how of the case.
To see this, let's use an example topic. Imagine you're writing an article about a big star coming to the area to perform a concert. Here are the W questions you need to answer in your article:
- Who is coming to perform?
- What type of event is it?
- When will the concert be?
- Why is the concert being put on?
- Where will the concert be held?
- How can readers buy tickets?
The final question shows an example of a how question you should have for an article with this topic. By no means does this list represent the only information you should include in your article, but using the five W's, and an occasional H, will get you all the basic information for your news article. Your ultimate goal is to provide a succinct but thorough account of the event.
Once you have all the basic information, begin writing your article with those details. Keep in mind the guidelines for the structure, too.
Step 3: Other Information
The final step is to add in any extra details that are pertinent to your article. Depending on your topic, you may need to add in more content that readers need to know beyond the basic information.
To showcase this, let's return to our concert example. Not everyone enjoys music. Furthermore, some people who love music don't enjoy going to concerts. So why should they care about this topic? This is where you can add in further details.
Perhaps a portion of the profits from the concert will go to a local charity, or maybe the concert will be larger than expected and will affect other traffic in the area. Or maybe the performer is a huge star and this is his final tour of his career. All of these examples show further details are often needed. When this is true, include them in your article after the basic information.
To review, writing a newspaper article is different from other forms of print. To write one, follow these steps.
- Step 1 - determine the structure, or format of your article. This should include a title (the name of the written work), short paragraphs to fit into columns, and a byline (which is the final line that states the author of the piece). Remember that you don't need to have a topic sentence, which is the opening sentence of a paragraph that states what that paragraph will be about, or a closing sentence, which provides closure in the final sentence of a paragraph.
- Step 2 - figure out your content, or information in the article. Answer the five W questions, and perhaps the how. Begin the article with this information.
- Step 3 - add in any other important information readers need to know about your topic.
If you follow these steps, then you'll be able to write a concise and complete newspaper article.