Friday, September 16, 2011

Basic Guidelines in News Writing

News Writing 101
Basic Guidelines in News Writing 

News style (also journalistic style or news writing style) is the prose style used for news reporting in media such as newspapers, radio and television. News style encompasses not only vocabulary and sentence structure, but also the way in which stories present the information in terms of relative importance, tone, and intended audience.

News writing attempts to answer all the basic questions about any particular event - who, what, when, where and why (the Five Ws) and also often how - at the opening of the article. This form of structure is sometimes called the "inverted pyramid", to refer to the decreasing importance of information in subsequent paragraphs.

News stories also contain at least one of the following important characteristics relative to the intended audience: proximity, prominence, timeliness, human interest, oddity, or consequence.


Newspapers generally adhere to an expository writing style. Over time and place, journalism ethics and standards have varied in the degree of objectivity or sensationalism they incorporate. Definitions of professionalism differ among news agencies; their reputations, according to professional standards, and depending on what the reader wants, are often tied to the appearance of objectivity.

In its most ideal form, news writing strives to be intelligible to the majority of readers, as well as to be engaging and succinct. Within these limits, news stories also aim to be comprehensive. However, other factors are involved, some of which are derived from the media form, and others stylistic. Among the larger and more respected newspapers, fairness and balance is a major factor in presenting information. 

Headline - Subhead - Lead (5 W's and 1 H) or Intro

The headline, heading, head or title of a story; "hed" in journalists' jargon

The subhead, a phrase, a sentence or several sentences near the title of an article or story, a quick blurb or article teaser

The most important structural element of a story is the lead (or "intro" in the UK) — the news story's first, or leading, sentence. Basically, the rule of thumb says the lead should answer most or all of the five Ws, few leads can fit all of these.

Inverted pyramid structure

Journalists usually describe the organization or structure of a news story as an inverted pyramid. The essential and most interesting elements of a story are usually put at the beginning, with supporting information following in order of diminishing importance.

This structure enables readers to stop reading at any point and still come away with the essence of a story. It allows people to explore a topic to only the depth that their curiosity takes them, and without the imposition of details or nuances that they could consider irrelevant, but still making that information available to more interested readers.

The inverted pyramid structure also enables articles to be trimmed to any arbitrary length during layout, to fit in the space available.

News articles follow their own style. This style is not the same as the style used in essays, feature articles, how-to articles, memoirs, or in fiction. When writing news articles, consider this guide to news article writing:

Style of a News Article:

1. Inverted Pyramid Style
Inverted pyramid style is the basis for all news stories. Picture a pyramid, and turn it upside down. What is now the top of the news story is where all of the meat is in the story.
The practical and historical reason for this stems from print news. Articles were written in column inches. Sometimes, due to space constrictions, editors had to cut parts of news stories.

2. News Writing and the Fiction Connection
News writing is not like fiction. Forget the suspense building techniques and foreshadowing of fiction. Give the readers the facts right up front. Don't save the good stuff for the middle or the end of the story. Approach the news story as if the average reader will only be reading the first three or four paragraphs of any news story.

3. Keep Your Opinion to Yourself
When writing a news article, be as objective as possible. If you find yourself including your opinion, consider if you should instead write an Op/Ed piece about the event. Sometimes writing an Op/Ed piece is the only way you will write about an event. After the Op/Ed piece is finished, the writer may be done with the news event. Or, once the op/ed is out of your system, you may be ready to sit down and right the facts.

Beginning news writers who have their choice of stories, may want to practice writing news stories by starting with events that interest them but have not emotional impact on them. By removing the emotional aspect up front, the writer will be less likely to include opinions in their articles.
As the beginning writer gains skill with news writing, approaching more emotional and 
visceral subjects will be easier to cover while still maintaining objectivity.

For your information, guidance and compliance. 

Ms. Myraine Carluen - Policarpio

Basic Guidelines in Feature Article Writing

Feature Writing 101
Basic Guidelines in Feature Article Writing

Feature Style

News stories aren't the only type of material that appear in newspapers and magazines. Longer articles, such as magazine cover articles and the pieces that lead the inside sections of a newspaper, are known as features. Feature stories differ from straight news in several ways.

Foremost is the absence of a straight-news lead, most of the time. Instead of offering the essence of a story up front, feature writers may attempt to lure readers in.
While straight news stories always stay in third person point of view, it's not uncommon for a feature article to slip into first person. The journalist will often detail his or her interactions with interview subjects, making the piece more personal.

A feature's first paragraphs often relate an intriguing moment or event, as in an "anecdotal lead". From the particulars of a person or episode, its view quickly broadens to generalities about the story's subject.

The section that signals what a feature is about is called the nut graph or billboard. Billboards appear as the third or fourth paragraph from the top, and may be up to two paragraphs long. Unlike a lede (lead), a billboard rarely gives everything away. This reflects the fact that feature writers aim to hold their readers' attention to the end, which requires engendering curiosity and offering a "payoff."

Feature paragraphs tend to be longer than those of news stories, with smoother transitions between them. Feature writers use the active-verb construction and concrete explanations of straight news, but often put more personality in their prose. Feature stories often close with a "kicker" rather than simply petering out.

Top tips in writing feature articles:
A feature story differs from a straight news story in one respect – its intent. A news story provides information about an event, idea or situation. The feature does a bit more – it may also interpret news, add depth and color to a story, instruct or entertain.

· The introduction is the most important part - entice your reader, hook them in. Use drama, emotion, quotations, questions, descriptions
· The body of the article needs to keep any promises or answe r any questions raised in the introduction - try and maintain an "atmosphere" throughout the writing. 
· While the introduction draws the reader in, the conclusion should be written to help the reader remember the story - use a strong punchline.

Some points to keep in mind:
· Focus on human interest - the feel and emotion you put into the article are critical. Don't think about writing a "science" story - think about writing a "human interest" story.
· Be clear about why you are writing the article. Is it to inform, persuade, observe, evaluate, or evoke emotion?
· Write in the active voice. In active writing, people do things. Passive sentences often have the person doing the action at the end of the sentence or things being done “by” someone.
· Accuracy is important - you can interpret and embroider but not fudge.
· Keep your audience clearly in mind - what are their desires, what really matters to them? 
· Avoid clich├ęs (cutting edge, world beating, revolutionary) and sentimental statements - especially at the end of your article.
· Interviews for features usually need to be in-depth and in person rather than over the phone - this enables you to add in colour and detail.
· Use anecdotes and direct quotes to tell the story - try not to use too many of your own words.
· Talk to more than one person to provide a more complete picture – but don’t just add in sources to show how much work you’ve done. Be ruthless about who you put in and who you leave out!
· Don't rely on the computer spell -checker - especially those with a U.S. dictionary.
· Decide on the ‘tense' of your story at the start and stick to it. Present tense usually works best.
· Avoid lengthy, complex paragraphs. Your article will appear in columns, so two or three sentences will do.
· Ideas come from everywhere - watch, read, listen, keep up to date, do take notes. Talk to people outside the field of science to find out what interests and concerns them. 

Getting your feature articles published 
· READ the publication you want to write for (a surprising number of writers don’t and it shows).
· Give a proposal rather than full article.
· Include good examples of your previously published work· Write what the editor wants to publish, not what you want to write. How do you find out?
Study the editorial and staff writers' pieces - they are aimed precisely at the publication's target audience. 
· Select your market - list six magazines that could buy your article and study them. The articles, advertising and letters to the editor will give vital clues to the interests and demographics of the audience.
· A picture sells the story - offer good quality images as prints, transparencies or digital files. Check with the editor for the preferred option.
· Obtain a style sheet for the publication 
· Submit your story typed and double-spaced for better editing space. 
· Let the relevant person (editor/deputy editor) in the print media outlet know you are sending them an article. Follow this up with a phone call a week or so later. 
· Send your article to only one print media outlet initially. If they don't want to use it within a set time period, send it elsewhere. 

For your information, guidance and compliance. 

Ms. Myraine Carluen - Policarpio

Saturday, August 27, 2011

MQAPC Scribes - Journalist’s Code of Ethics

MQAPC Scribes - What They Have in Heart and Mind

Blogger's note: What follows is the full text of the Journalist's Code of Ethics formulated by the Philippine Press Institute and the National Press Club as adopted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. A copy can be found on the website of the NUJP.
MQAPC Scribes - Integrity, Credibility, Accuracy and Fairness

Journalist’s Code of Ethics (Philippines)

1. I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts or to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognise the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.

2. I shall not violate confidential information or material given me in the exercise of my calling.

3. I shall resort only to fair and honest methods in my effort to obtain news, photographs and/or documents, and shall properly identify myself as a representative of the press when obtaining any personal interview intended for publication.

4. I shall refrain from writing reports which will adversely affect a private reputation unless the public interest justifies it. At the same time, I shall fight vigorously for public access to information.

5. I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties; nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature which may cast doubt on my professional integrity.

6. I shall not commit any act of plagiarism.

7. I shall not in any manner ridicule, cast aspersions on, or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.

8. I shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise. I shall exercise caution in publishing names of minors and women involved in criminal cases so that they may not unjustly lose their standing in society.

9. I shall not take unfair advantage of fellow journalists.

10. I shall accept only such tasks as are compatible with the integrity and dignity of my profession, invoking the ‘conscience clause’ when duties imposed on me conflict with the voice of my conscience.

11. I shall comport myself in public or while performing my duties as journalist in such manner as to maintain the dignity of my profession. When in doubt, decency should be my watch word.

♥♥♥ MQAPC Scribes ♥♥♥