Reporting and writing news

News:

Scholars have defined “news” in a multitude of ways. Some say “anything new is news”, others say “all that comes from north, east, west and south is news,” etc, and another simple definition is that “news is an account of any recent event.”

Intro or Lede:

The writing of a news story starts with intro. Intro or lead is the first or introductory paragraph of any news story.

Intro usually has five Ws (what, where, who, when why) and 1H (how) about any incident or event, but do not overload the intro.

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Inverted pyramid:

Inverted pyramid style is used in news writing.

It means that the most important information in the story is given in intro. And the rest of information are arranged in descending order of importance.

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Quotes:

Quotes are the spoken words of any source, put in inverted commas in a news story.

Quotes reduce the risk of misreporting and make the language lively.

Quotes should be used to note important points from a speech. For example, one should not use quotes to state simple facts or the obvious things.

Also, never start a news story with a quote, meaning that a quote cannot be a substitute for an intro or lede.

Also, leave out fillers in quotes.

Remember that quotes are muscles of a story. 🙂

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Sources in Journalism and attribution:

A source is anyone or anything that gives you timely information for a news story.

It is not possible for journalists to cover each and every story. Hence, they have to rely on various sources.

Types: Reporters (journalist colleagues), primary sources (anyone at the centre of an event), secondary sources (those who are not at the cenre of an event but who pass on information to media or journalists), written sources (like research papers, articles, etc), leaked documents, etc.

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Attribution:

Attribution means telling your readers where information in your news story comes from.

There are three categories:

One the record attribution where a reporter can identify a source and also use his/her information in story.

Non-attributable: Sometimes a source gives you information but wishes to remain anonymous.

Off-the-record: When a source gives you information but asks you not to use their name, nor their information.

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Translation and its procedure:

Answer: Translation means conversion of text from one language into another. It is also defined the communication of meaning of a source language by means of a target language.

Procedure: If you are translating an entire story, following are some simple steps:

Read entire story to get its main theme.

Do the draft translation, but you should keep in mind that you translate meaning, not words, of the text.

Then proofread the translated story without even looking at the source story to check any errors of grammar, style, facts and figures, paras, etc.

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Journalistic terminology / terms:

Journalistic terminology are terms that are widely used in the field of journalism. One may call them the language of the newsrooms. Following are a few of them:

Headline: A line of collection of lines that summarize any news story and given on the top of it.

Sub-head: The secondary headlines, maybe one or more than one line, that further clarify a story just under the main headline.

By-line: The name of the reporter in a news story just right under the headline or sub-headline is called by-line.

Dateline: The place where the story has been filed from.

Lede or intro: The first paragraph, which carries the main theme of a news story, ie 5Ws (what, where, when, who and why) and 1H (how), about any event.

Quote: A quote in a news story are the exact  words said by any source of speaker, put in inverted commas.

Ad: It stands for advertisement, which is published in various print publications for commercial purposes. Advertisements are lifeline of a newspaper that help newspapers earn money.

Advertorial: An advertorial is an advertisement written in the form of news. But an advertorial should be distinguished from other news stories in a newspaper by placing it in a box and writing the words “Advertorial” on it.

Press conference: It can be defined as an interview given to journalists by someone in order to make an announcement or demand and later answer questions of the media representatives.

Press release: A statement issued to media by an organisation for the purpose of letting the public know of any of its events/development.

Handout: An official statement issued to media to highlight what is taking place in various government departments.

There are hundreds of terms. A book titled “Of Journalism” authored by Mr Inamur Rehman Pushkalavati, details many of them. This book also has some topics on journalism history and media theories.

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Feature writing, some basics:

We can define a feature story as a dramatised form of a news. While in an ordinary news story starts from the basic facts (5Ws and 1H in intro), a writer tries to engage the readers in the intro of a feature story and does not give the 5Ws and 1H in the first para.

Feature stories are in fact called soft news, while the ordinary news stories are known as hard news.

An important difference is that a feature story is not time-bound while a news story is time-dependent.

In short, a feature is a human interest story that appeals to emotions of readers.

Note: Those who wish to improve feature writing can attend my classes wherein I offer practical exercises and examples to learn feature writing since it’s more practical than theory. 🙂

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Rounds in journalism:

A round or beat is a specific area that a reporter covers for his or her media organisation.

There are several advantages of rounds reporting. For example, if a reporter is covering a particular beat, he or she will be able to know people and ultimately avoid being used for a false story. Also, a reporter better knows the history of his/her specific round and are able to put news in historical context, thus explaining an issue more.

To cover any round/beat, reporter needs to establish contacts by visiting concerned people in his beat, whether government or private sector.

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News values:

News values are elements that determine the newsworthiness of any report or event.

Following are some of the news values:

Timeliness: News need to be fresh, like fruit and vegetables. The more an event is fresh/recent, the more its news value.

Prominence: If any prominent persons, like political leader or famous sportsman is involved in a report, it also has a news value.

Proximity: It means the more an event is closer to the readers/audience, the more important it is for media.

Conflict: Normal routine is not news, but if there arises a conflict, then it becomes a news. For example, clash between student unions at a university, war between two countries, etc.

Oddity: If something is unusual, ie a breakup in the everyday chain of events, it becomes news. Do publish/broadcast a report through your media organisation if it concerns, for example, a sportsman making a world record.

Impact: If there is a report about an event that affects a large number of people, you need to carry that in your media coverage. Say, for instance, a disease that has broken out in the city and affecting many people.

Different books on journalism have mentioned some more values as well and in more detail, for which study of books is important.

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2 thoughts on “Reporting and writing news

    1. Wajahat ullah, see the last topic, ie news values, which I just inserted here. But also try to see various books on journalism. Do not just rely on these notes on my blog. These notes are meant to clear the basic concept only.

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