Unit 1: News Perspectives – News Writing And Reporting Analysis Class Notes
Principles of News
- Stanley defines as News: women, wampum and wrong-doing
- Plan before you write
- Decide and establish a hierarchy of pieces of information
- Keep the audience in mind – what will interest them and what is significant to them
- Understand the intentions of the publication you write for – sensational or neutral
- Use simple sentences
- Cut-down large vocabularies – think about the reader, who is the target audience, who is the least denominator
- Avoid dressing-up vocabulary
- Harold Evans, the writer says, “It is not enough to get the news. We must be able to put it across.”
- Meaning must be clear
- Protect the reader from incomprehension and boredom
- Language should be specific, emphatic and concise
- Every word of the sentence should be clear and no room for abstraction
- It is the start of the story, the opening paragraph
- It has two relative purposes: engage a reader and summarise the story (5ws+1h)
- The inverted pyramid structure is still most commonly used
- The best introduction or the lead will contain a maximum of two or three facts or maybe only one.
- It comprises of one sentence and not more than 30-40 words
- Tony Harcup – intro is crucial because it sets the tone for what follows
- Rest of the story is the remaining part of the story
- The second paragraph is important to quote the readers’ interests
- After the introduction, the writer provides more information – details, examples, explanations, quotes, etc.
- There should not be any unanswered questions
- Readers should not be left hanging – Active voice, not passive voice
Always prefer active voice news-writing especially in the introduction.
Active tense is faster and more immediate
It uses fewer words
Positive even if it is negative
The gov. has decided not to introduce the planned tax increase on petrol and diesel this autumn.
The gov. has abandoned the plans to raise fuel taxes this autumn.
The news is more engaging if it describes something that is happening rather than something that is not.
- Long quotes affect readers, induces boredom
- Short, direct quotes change the face of a story and colour and character and to introduce personal experiences
- Direct quote provides actuality – precision
- Avoid jargons or explain them
News Values – Changing the value of news
- Certain guidelines to be followed to select news
- Timeliness – news is a perishable commodity, right to information. ads
- According to Thomas, news must be served hot
- Recent events have higher news value than earlier happenings.
- Everything that is less informative tomorrow
- Example: A bus loaded with elementary school children crashed head-on into a compact car in South Western Jefferson County yesterday, injuring 24 students and 2 drivers.
- Geographical: Some event happens closer to the place
- Stories about events and situations in one’s home community are more newsworthy than events that take place far away.
- Anything bizarre or unusual news
- Example: Certain people eat bird’s nest
- For the same happening, celebrities, sportsmen, politicians have higher news value than ordinary people.
- The number of people whose lives will be influenced in some way by the subject of the story.
- A classic example of this is dog-bites-man vs. man-bites-dog. Man-bites-dog is more bizarre. Dog-bites-man usually is not news.
- Natural calamity, Diseases – preventive ideas, how-to guide
- War. Public anger or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues.
- Between people or institutions
- Reviews of movies, books, events, etc.
- Human Interest
- Highlight a struggle of an ordinary man to success or a tragedy
- More value is attributed to stories pertaining to issues or topics that are in the spotlight of public concern rather than to issues or topics about which people care less.
Are the five W’s And 1 H still relevant?
- In another term, it’s called as Lead – who (main people), when (time), what (action), where (place), why (reason) and how
- Example 1: A police officer working for the police force in the north part of the country was accused of doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.
- Example 2: Lady Godiva (who) rode (what) naked (how) through the streets of Coventry (where) yesterday (when) in a bid to cut taxes (why).
- A 13-year old girl (who) shot and slightly wounded (what). Her step-father with a gun after he hit her mother on the head with a frying pan Saturday afternoon (when) according to Glasgow Country Sheriff’s office.
- So What? – is an important element of the news
Type of Leads
- Straight news lead:
- Simple and straight approach – nothing fancy
- Usually one sentence long – with 30 words
- Example: Two people were killed and four were injured today when a truck collided with a passenger car on Interstate 59 near CottonVile Exit.
- Summary lead:
- Usually one sentence long – with 30 words but summarizes the news in a concise
- It outlines the story in brief
- Example: A tractor-trailer truck carrying dangerous chemicals crashed on Interstate 59 today killing one person, injuring four others and forcing an evacuation of several hundred people from their homes.
- Direct address lead
- The word ‘you’ used
- Directly referring to the audience/readers
- The main purpose is to involve the readers/audience
- Example: If you are a property owner in the city, the City Council is about to take at least 5000 rupees more from you each year.
- Contrast lead
- Two opposing ideas/views
- Example: People say marriages are made in heaven, but for Sita, it is a different story altogether.
- Immediate identification lead
- A person or issue is important or well-known
- Give the name of the person
- Example: Donald Trump …
- Delayed identification lead
- Name not well-known, the position is more important
- BBMP Chairman has passed an order to stop the encroachment of pavements. This will be implemented from the 3rd of this month. BBMP Chairman Sampath Raj who took oath as a chairman.
- Question lead
- Lead begins with a question
- To attract the readers/audience
- To capture attention
- Quotation lead
- Start with a quote from the story
- “A quote”, said Mr… , a designation – time/place
Writing for changing time- brief, crisp and to the point
Does news have mere informational value or is it a form of knowledge?
The document or a record is said to be of a value based on the nature of the information that is contained in such records. The information could be related to a person, event, country, or a business. News as a primary source of information gathering, disseminating, and recording contributes to the information value. Without the wide reach of news media, critical information could very well be forgotten.
The value of news doesn’t just stop with the recording of the information but goes far into spreading literacy and awareness among the common people, who would otherwise, may not have access to such information.
When there’s a natural calamity, news acts as a torchbearer of knowledge on how one can safeguard their lives, protect their family and dear ones. When there’s a political crisis, news helps to spread the knowledge among the public in exercising their rights. A good newspaper carries itself wisdom of current affairs, debates, different viewpoints, economy, political, business, education, health and several other matters. Such wealth of information builds up the power of knowledge among the people.
Hence, we can conclude that news does not just stop with informational value, but an epitome of knowledge.
Structure of News – Inverted Pyramid Style