History never actually repeats, but it does seem to repeat tendencies. Similarly, news stories never duplicate each other, but they do have a way of falling into definite categories. Analyzing them as we read them from day to day or listen to them as they came over the radio, we can easily discern elements of news interest which recur constantly. Sometimes a story will contain
several of these interest-provoking elements, sometimes but one. In each instance the dominant element present ‘gives us the clue to that story’s type and category. Here are some of the chief elements of news interest:
Here are several of these types:
1. Man’s struggle with Nature.
2. Struggle between individual and organized society.
3. Struggle between political and economic groups:
5. The unusual: Novelty, strangeness, incongruity formthe basis of much that we consider news. Departures from the expected fascinate us. Variations from the norm often amuse us.
This element led the editors of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune
to print this item from a city far away:
NEWS WRITING BASICS
Good reporters subscribe to the following principles
1. All statements presented as fact must be absolutely true.
2. Quotations must be verbatim.
3. If a name must be changed, your audience must be
4. All news stories must be 100 percent accurate.
5. All statements of opinion or facts not commonly known must be attributed to the source.
6. News stories must present all sides of a controversy.
7. A person accused of wrongdoing must always be given an opportunity to respond.
8. Editorial comment and biased language must not appear in news stories
WRITING WITH CLARITY AND STYLE
1. Using the language carefully is ‘:important for clear communication.
2. Correct grammar and proper punctuation are needed to convey meaning successfully.
3. Writers of news must be aware of specific style requirements for the media.
4. Newspapers and other print media adhere to a system of abbreviation, capitalization and use of numbers designed to ensure consistency. Most newspapers observe the rules set forth by the two major wire services, AP and UPI.
5. Writers of broadcast news follow a different set of style rules.
6. . Broadcast writers must write copy for the announcer to read and the audience to understand.
7. Some of the fundamental principles of clear writing: Be concise; use familiar words; be concrete; be specific; use the active voice; be positive, organized and natural
WRITING NEWS FOR PRINT
Writing news for print requires careful attention to writing a good lead, putting other elements of the story together properly, and polishing and refining to make the story easy to read.
A. When writing leads, remember these important points:
1. Include the most important and most interesting aspects of the story.
2. Tell the main point.
3. Be brief.
4. Be specific.
5. Identify the news.
6. Be timely.
7. Avoid quotations and questions
B. Structuring· stories properly requires the right arrangement of these elements:
1. The lead (the main point)
2. Secon5ry points
3. Elaboration on the main point
4. .Support for the lead.
6. Development of the main idea
C. Polishing and refining means making the story easy to read and answering any questions the reader is likely to have.
D. To ensure readability:
1. Keep sentences short.
2. Keep paragraphs short.
3. Use short, common words.
E. Researchers have discovered that the clarity of writing-Its readability–can be gauged by applying mathematical formulas. These formulas consider such factors as the average sentence length and the number of long or unfamiliar words in a piece of writing.
F. To make the story interesting:
1. UBepersonal words.
2. Use contractions.
3. Use direct quotations.
4. Explain effects on people.
5. Show, don’t tell
G. To answer readers’ questions:
1. Include all relevant times, places, dates, names.
2. Identify people and organizations.
3. Present relevant statistics, scores, vote totals.
4. Give background.
5. Describe the circumstances.
6. Note any unusual aspects.
7. . Discuss expected future developrssnts.
8. Support generalities with specifics
WRITING NEWS FOR BROADCAST
1. The basics of broadcast style are: (1) Keep it conversational. (2) Keep it simple. (3) Keep it short. 2. Broadca~ newswriters should not write in headline style, except in the headline segments of newscasts. Make every other sentence a complete one.
3. Broadcast leads must catch the attention of the audience and c<?nveyinformation.
4~ Types of broadcast leads include traditional, angle umbrella and throwaway.
5. Radio news copy is typed full-page, and is timed at four seconds per line.
6. Radio news stories can be either “readers” or lead-ins and tags to audiotape.
7. TV copy is typed in a half-page format with the right-hand side used for copy and the left-hand side for technical cues.
8. Knowing how to write a TV news reader, a slide or chrornakey shot, a lead-in to videotape, and a voice-over plus incorporate supers into the scripts gives you an understanding of the basics or TV news writing.
WRITING FOR THE NEW ELECTRONIC MEDIA
New communication technologies and services include satellites, home computers, low-power. TV and radio stations, teletext and videotex. Teletext and videotex are computer-based electronic text services to the home or office. Teletext is one-way
while videotex is two-way, or interactive. Studies have shown that local news and information are among the things people want most from these new services Teletext and videotex writing styles are in their .developmental stage, just like the technology itself. Several differences have been observed from the systems in operation.
Writing for both teletext and videotex demands a style between print and broadcast, with elements of both
1. Because videotex is two-way, and people can request more information, news items on videotex take two forms: a brief broadcast style summary and a full-length newspaper styIe article.
2. Because teletext is one-way, stories will tend to be longer than videotex summary items.
3. Reporting and production will also be involved. Graphics will play a large role in both services; thus, you as writers will have to learn how to use graphics and artwork, as in writing for TV news