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News basics. What is news?. What is news?. Impact Conflict Proximity Timeliness Unusualness Familiarity. Impact. News has impact Great or small War, disaster Quality of life, economy Weather, traffic Time, date and place of events What’s on at the movies?. Conflict.

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news basics

News basics

What is news?

what is news
What is news?







  • News has impact
    • Great or small
      • War, disaster
      • Quality of life, economy
      • Weather, traffic
      • Time, date and place of events
        • What’s on at the movies?
  • Often but not always integral to impact
    • Differential impact -- winners and losers
    • Politics
    • Sports
    • Celebrity divorces
  • The local angle
    • Integral to impact -- what is nearby
    • One of the strongest news angles
  • The “new” in “news”
    • News decays over time
    • Reporters need to be alert and quick
unusualness familiarity
Unusualness, familiarity
  • Important but often overdone
    • Some unusualness matters, some doesn’t
      • Hottest decade on record
      • Squash that looks like Bill Clinton
    • Some familiarity has impact, some doesn’t
      • Mike Rao, George W. Bush, the mayor
      • Paris Hilton, Brangelina
supermarket tabloids
Supermarket Tabloids
  • Celebrity
  • Unusualness
  • Conflict
  • Timeliness, proximity, impact
news writing basics
News writing basics
  • Lead (non-feature)
    • Should tell the most important or interesting thing that happened
    • Or the most important point that was made by a speaker.
avoid topic leads
Avoid ‘topic leads’
  • Tell the reader what the news is, not the topic of the story.
  • Don’t use words and phrases like
    • Discussed
    • Told how
    • Considered
    • Talked about
lead examples
Lead examples
  • Don’t: Tracy Burton talked about the excitement and difficulty of police reporting in a speech to students Monday.
  • Do: Police reporters should expect to work at all hours of the night and see death first hand, Lansing State Journal reporter Tracy Burton told journalism students Monday.
inverted pyramid structure
Inverted pyramid structure
  • The lead
  • Expansion and development of the lead
  • Additional material in descending order of importance.
  • The end
  • First paragraph of a story.
  • One sentence, 25 words or less
  • Substance first, then attribution (unless the source is famous).
immediate vs delayed id
Immediate vs delayed ID
  • Immediate ID with someone well known:
    • CMU President Michael Rao said today the university should try to reduce enrollment rather than increase it.
  • Delayed ID if not well known:
    • CMU should try to reduce enrollment rather than increase it, a Student Government Association candidate said today.
expansion development
Expansion, development
  • The next however-many paragraphs after the lead should give additional details about the lead angle.
    • Speaking to the Academic Senate, Rao said CMU is bursting at the seams and no longer recovers the cost of educating each student through tuition and state aid. “The more students we have, the further behind we get,” he said.
additional material
Additional material
  • Arrange in descending order of importance. May include:
    • Background
    • Reaction
    • Other actions, topics etc.
chronological coverage
Chronological coverage
  • Avoid it.
  • However, chronology sometimes has a legitimate place.
  • When it’s important, lead with and develop the most important angle -- then tell the story from beginning to end within the body of the article.
little red riding hood
Little Red Riding Hood
  • An elderly woman was eaten by a wolf Thursday but her granddaughter was rescued by an alert woodsman in a rural area near Mount Pleasant.
  • Expansion and development
  • The ordeal began when . . . .
  • Give readers enough context to help them understand the story as they read.
  • Provide context in subordinate clauses rather than in free-standing blocs:
    • The decision, which reversed a long-standing policy, means the university will no longer seek to attract as many students as possible.
ending a story
Ending a story
  • When you’ve reached the least important part of the story, simply stop.