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News Writing

 
  
 
NEWS  WRITING No matter what news value or interest a story may have, it must conform to a particular format or style. In literary writing, style is generally determined by the author. It is obvious, however, that a literary writer is not concerned with news style or the fundamentals of news  writing.  Take  the  following  quotation  for example: "It is a thing well known to both American and English whale ships, and as well a thing placed upon authoratative record years ago by Scoresby, that some whales have been captured far north in the Pacific, in whose bodies have been found the barbs of harpoons darted  in  the  Greenland  Seas.  Nor  is  it  too  be gainsaid that in some of these instances two assaults could not have exceeded very many days. Hence, by inference,  it  has  been  believed  by  some  whalemen, that the North West Passage, so long a problem to men, was not a problem to the whale." Perhaps this quotation is familiar to you. It is from Moby Dick. Its  author,  Herman  Melville,  was  known  for  his moving literary style. If a modem-day journalist were writing this same piece for a newspaper, it would probably read like this: "The North West passage, long sought by man, may be known and used by whales. American  and  British  Sailors  have  reported finding the barbs of harpoons from Greenland in the bodies of whales killed in the North Pacific. In some cases the wounds were only a few days old. This has led some whalers to believe that whales must use some shortcut from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific." As you can see from the above example, in news writing all the frills are stripped away. The story is written so it can be understood by all readers. The purpose of the news story is to inform—not to impress. Short   stories   or   novels   and   other   forms   of literature are usually written in chronological order. This means the author starts at the beginning, sets the time and place, describes the scene, introduces the characters,  then  slowly  weaves  and  threads  the  plot until a climax is reached. The climax is deliberately held back to build suspense and to dramatize the events that hold the reader’s interest to the end. In fast-moving society, few people have the time or desire to read every word of every story. Therefore, in  modem  news  writing,  the  story  is  constructed  so the climax is presented first. With this method of writing, the most important facts are placed in the first paragraph of the story. It then moves into the detailed portion  of  the  story  by  covering  the  facts  in diminishing  order  of  importance.  Before  attempting to  put  words  on  paper,  a  good  writer  must  be particularly  conscious  of  the  elements  of  journalism: accuracy, application, brevity, clarity, coherence, emphasis,  objectivity,  and  unity.  These  are  the characteristics of a story that provide the credibility that is so highly valued by professional newspeople. WRITTEN  LANGUAGE The  written  language  consists  of  three  basic elements:  words,  sentences,  and  paragraphs. Words Words  are  your  basic  writing  tools.  Like  any skilled technician, you must be able to select the best tools for the job. This means you should use words that say exactly what you mean; otherwise, people may take statements out of context. Use common words  that  are  easy  to  understand.  Multisyllable words add confusion Strong, active verbs inject life, action, and movement into stories. Strong verbs help to eliminate the need for adverbs. In news and feature stories, adverbs often clutter the writing. Sentences The simple declarative sentence consists of a subject and verb, or subject, verb, and object. It is the most  common  sentence  in  informal  conversation  and thus should be used for writing news items. Ideally, sentences should consist of 30 words or less and average about 15 to 18 words. Sentences should vary in length; for example, use an 8-word sentence, then a 12-word sentence, followed by a 25-word sentence, and back to a short sentence. Do not crowd too many details  into  one  sentence.  Although  a  compound  or complex sentence may contain more than one thought, you should attempt to construct simple sentences that express a single thought clearly and concisely. Paragraphs Paragraphs should be reasonably short. People can grasp a small amount of information more easily than complex  amounts  of  information.  When  possible,  a paragraph in a news or feature story should be 60 1-17


   


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