angle or an entirely different approach from the one used
in the original spot news story to which it is related.
The tie-back consists of one or two paragraphs
located between the lead and the body of the story which
contains a brief but clear synopsis of the information
presented in the original spot news story. The tie-back
is used to refresh the memories of those readers who saw
the original story and to update those who did not see it.
The body of the story simply presents details of all
new developments in the situation. It is usually written
in the inverted pyramid style described in Chapter 2.
PRINCIPLES OF REWRITING
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recognize the basic
principles of rewriting a story in terms of
improving copy, updating the story,
transforming informal reports, localizing,
combining stories and shifting emphasis.
interview before a finished product can be turned out.
have to convert a feature story or a poor attempt at a
feature into a news story. Therefore, a reporter should
The principles of rewriting are the same as those for
good newswriting. If a story does not conform to
acceptable newswriting standards, it should be rewritten
and made to do so. In other words, you take what
someone else has written poorly and convert it into
usable news copy.
When you are assigned to a command publication,
such as a ship or station newspaper, you will find that a
certain amount of your material comes from
contributors who do not write in journalistic style. Other
material comes to you as handouts and from outside
sources, such as clipsheets, naval messages, directives
and official correspondence. If you want your
publication to contain readable and consistently good
material or if you have a local angle and want it to be
accepted by commercial news media in your area, it is
often necessary to rewrite it.
To transform informal reports into properly
written news stories
To localize general information
To combine two or more stories
To change story emphasis
Often, a persons first attempt at writing a story
produces dismal results. Some members of a public
affairs office staff may not be thoroughly skilled in the
writing craft. Also, material for intended release is often
received from other staff offices or departments. These
articles frequently need the professional touch of a
rewrite reporter. A rewrite reporter organizes a poorly
written, improperly arranged item into a sequentialy
logical finished product.
A rewrite reporter may have to turn a straight news
story into a feature. In this event, the rewriter often needs
to acquire additional information and can expect to
spend some time on the telephone or in a face-to-face
There are times, too, when the rewrite reporter may
be proficient in both types of writing before assuming a
One of the most frequent faults of badly written
copy is the writers failure to give ample play in the lead
to the dominant news element of the story. The rewriter
must dig through the story, find the proper lead, put it at
the beginning where it belongs and, finally, organize the
remainder of the story in coherent form.
UPDATING THE STORY
Often, the rewriter must update a story that has
already been printed. So naturally, this person needs a
fresh angle to perform this feat. For example, assume
that a military aircraft crashes with three people aboard.
Two crewmen are killed and the third is missing. A story
based on these facts would be released as soon as
possible. Then suppose the third man is still alive, that
he had managed to parachute from the falling airplane,
The following are six basic reasons for rewritting
To improve poor copy
had made his way back to a highway, caught a ride,
telephoned the base and reported his experience. The
news of a survivor is the fresh angle needed by the,
rewriter to update the story of the crash.
To update material