I recently completed a six-week internship with Young Voices, which is a journalism company that helps young writers write and publish op-eds. It was a wonderful experience, in which I learned a lot about the industry. Many of us read the news right after we wake up or just before going to bed. We get breaking news notifications or emails. Journalism is a part of our everyday lives so it is incredibly easy to take it for granted, but every piece of news you read was written by someone. You can be that someone who brings news to others, so this post is dedicated to the overarching features of news pieces.
Types of News Pieces:
Hard News (also known as straight news): This is the most common type of news piece. It includes only the facts: who, what, when, where, and how. Only describe the why if there is a consensus about the reason for an event (or if you plan on describing all perspectives). In general, the goal of hard news is to inform your readers from an unbiased standpoint so they can make their own opinions about your piece.
Features: These explore issues in-depth as opposed to their relationship to thoroughly describing a single story. One common type of this is human-interest stories, which focus on a single person or group’s perspective. They can look at an event through a person’s life or focus on a person’s interesting life experiences. They can often focus on topics that might not be the most pressing or related to current events but are more likely to discuss ongoing topics that are of interest to specific groups.
Op-eds (editorials): In these, you take hard news or feature stories and provide a personal angle. The key thing with this is even though you are giving your own opinion, you need to show where your opinion comes from. Try to back up your claims with examples and quotes from others. If you think your topic is not controversial, reconsider your topic or your angle. Is it worth writing about? Does it give your readers something new to think about?
Parts of a News Article
This is the title of your piece.
Follow normal capitalization rules for titles (generally, capitalize all important words).
Summarize your piece in a brief and interesting way.
Your—and if applicable, your co-authors’—name(s)
Your first sentence (or paragraph) will determine whether a reader sticks with the article. Make it catchy and relevant.
Avoid “burying your lede,” which means hiding the purpose of your article in between other information. People want to know what they’re reading about, so put it up front.
This is everything between the beginning and end of your piece.
Most articles follow the inverted pyramid structure, which places the most important information at the top and broadens toward the end. This is especially important in today’s age because most readers of the news are busy people who might glance over some articles during their free time. How often do you actually read an entire news article? The point of an article is to inform the reader, so journalists have to make sure a reader with limited time can gain the necessary information by reading only the first few paragraphs.
Graf is a commonly-used abbreviation for paragraph.
Unlike most readers of the news, any reader seeing this stuck with you until the end, so they have an interest in the topic and want the conclusion to be worth their time.
Give them something to think about, such as a call to action. How can your readers make an impact on the topic discussed in your piece?
Nobody likes fake news, but everyone knows it exists. How do you make sure people know you are telling the truth? You cite your sources. Include hyperlinks for claims and names for quotes. Importantly, this can also help keep yourself accountable. Before you write a quote or claim you might have heard somewhere, see if you can find a source. If you can’t, it might not be true.
These are only the basics of journalism, and I plan on writing more posts on this topic soon. Have you ever tried journalism? Let me know in the comments!