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The News Story. A introductory course in news writing. This mini-writing course is intended for students in middle and senior high school English and Journalism courses. This lesson was created by Jonathan Klingeman. Welcome!.

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The news story l.jpg

The News Story

A introductory course in news writing

This mini-writing course is intended for students in middle and senior high school English and Journalism courses.

This lesson was created by Jonathan Klingeman


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Welcome!

Journalism is a skill and practice that takes years to master; however, everyone must start at the beginning. For this mini-course, that is exactly where we will begin!

This course will teach you the basic building bocks of news writing that includes writing leads and story structures.


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Navigation

Select this button at any time to move back to the previous slide.

Select this button at any time to move back to the main menu.

Select this button at any time to move forward to the next slide.


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Main Menu

Lesson 1Lesson 2

Writing Leads

Story Structures

Lesson 3Lesson 4

Practice

Quiz


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Lesson 1

Writing Leads

“Whether you're a newspaper journalist, a lawyer, a doctor. You have to organize your thoughts.” --Frederick Wiseman


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Your Story, Your Leads

First, you must identify the main point of your story before you write it!

A good journalist always asks “So what?” or “What’s this about?” or “What’s my point?” when considering gathered information

The lead is what opens any piece of journalism. Other than the headline, the lead is the only chance to “catch” your reader’s attention!”


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Writing Your Lead

Readers spend only 3 seconds deciding whether to read your story based on your lead!

There are many types of leads; however, we will work with the most popular: a direct news lead. This consists of 1 or 2 sentences in the opening paragraph that contains the most important parts of the story

This consists of 1 or 2 sentences in the opening paragraph that contains some of the most important parts of the story (who, what, where, when, why, how)


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Leads

The following 2 examples are direct news leads that accurately tell the reader the most important information about the story!

Local police captured two juvenile thieves Wednesday after the robbery of Rob’s Mini-Mart.

The Student Council has made plans to donate 100% of all its proceeds from Friday night’s social event. The group plans to split the money between two local charities.


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Lead Wrap Up

Don’t be afraid to toy with leads until you create the best one!

If you are having trouble, create as many different lead combinations in a short time. The pressure will help you to organize the most important elements!

This concludes lesson 1 on writing leads. Please select the home button to continue the course!


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Lesson 2

Story Structures

“A newspaper should be the maximum of information, and the minimum of comment.” --Richard Cobden


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Organizing Your Story

  • Now with a strong lead, the time has come to develop the rest of your story that includes the most interesting facts!

  • Choosing the correct structure to benefit your readers is critical to the success of your story!

  • There are 3 typical structures you will be using as a journalist:

    • Inverted Pyramid

    • Storytelling Pattern

    • Chronological Order Pattern

  • Also, you might use these patterns together in the same story!


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Inverted Pyramid

LEAD

  • Most interesting news stories use this style for many reasons; it benefits:

  • Hurried readers

  • Beginning journalists

  • Headline writers

  • Page layout editors

Most Important Details

Less important details

Least important details

This style is beneficial to many different people because less time will be spent on the parts of the story that aren’t as important!


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Storytelling Pattern

Lead

This narrative form captures a reader’s interest without being as obvious as the inverted pyramid.

After a beginning, middle, and end, the writer includes a clincher or a kicker which gives the reader something to remember without repeating previous information; a circle kicker returns back to the opening paragraph!

Fact

Clincher

Fact


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Chronological Pattern

Lead

Though similar to the narrative style, this pattern works very well when a writer is trying to convey critical points of a story!

Foreshadowing

Chronological Storytelling

Climax at End


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Story Structure Wrap Up

Obviously the type of story structure you choose is based a great deal on the content.

Keep your readers in mind when organizing your information, drafting your story, and finally revising!

This concludes lesson 2 on story structures. Please select the home button to continue the course!


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Practice Using Leads

Read the following lead and think about which news writing tools are used!

*STATE COLLEGE--- The State College Area school board’s $102 million plan to reconfigure State High could be expected to cost more or less by early next month.

Why?

Who?

What?

How?

Where?

When?

Pauling, Dena. "Project Costs Revised." Centre Daily Times 26 Sept. 2006, sec. A: 1+.


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Practice Using Leads

Now, use the following tools to create your own lead.

Why?

Who?

What?

How?

Where?

When?


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Practice Using Leads

What did you come up with?? Share your results with a friend or

Teacher! Below are possible suggested leads:

  • Students at South Bend recently began taking monetary collections during the second marking period for children in need at the local shelter.

  • Or

  • 2. Beginning in October, The Senior Executive Committee at South Bend will be raising funds for the local children by collecting donations in homerooms.

  • This concludes the practice on how to write leads. Please select the home button to continue the course!

Why?

Who?

What?

How?

Where?

When?


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Quiz

When you are comfortable, click start quiz to begin the examination! You will be tested on the first 2 lessons! Good luck!

Start Quiz


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Question 1

A good journalist always asks ALL of the following questions except:

A

C

“So what do they expect me to do?”

“What’s my point?”

“So What?”

“What’s this about?”

B

D


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Question 2

The average reader spends how long reading a lead when

deciding whether to continue reading?

A

C

1 minute

30 seconds

0 seconds

3 seconds

B

D


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Question 3

What is at the top of the “inverted pyramid” structure?

A

C

Least important details

Leads

Circle Kickers

Most important details

B

D


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

A good journalist should always ask “so what” in order to find out why a reader/viewer will want to pay attention!

Try Again


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

A good journalist should always ask “what’s this about” in order to find out who this story will be affecting and why people should pay attention to it!

Try Again


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

A good journalist should always ask “what’s my point” so that readers/viewers won’t be confused about your main idea!

Try Again


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Very Good!

That is correct!

A good journalist wouldn’t ever ask “what do they want me to do?” As journalists, we should always be looking how to help society!

Question 2


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

Most readers use a lead when deciding whether to continue.

Try Again


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

That’s a little too long; in fact, most people can read most of an article in that time!

Try Again


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

Most readers will have read an entire article in 1 minute.

Try Again


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Very Good!

That is correct!

A reader only spends about 3 seconds when deciding to continue reading or move to a new story! Make sure your lead is fun, yet meaningful!

Question 3


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

The most important details are close to the lead, but support the lead rather than build up the information.

Try Again


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

The least important details should be the fewest and near the bottom!

Try Again


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Try Again!

That was a good try, but no.

Circle kickers are part of their own story structures that end back at the lead living the reader with a memorable thought!

Try Again


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Very Good!

That is correct!

The lead is the first and largest part of the inverted pyramid structure followed by the most important details, the less important details, least important details, and etc.


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Congratulations!

You’ve done a fantastic job at learning how to use leads and choosing a story structure. Best of luck in the future and keep building your journalism knowledge.

If you would like to get some more information about high school journalism, click here to be sent to a great resource!

Click the “home” button to return to the “welcome screen.”


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