NEWS defined. M. Lyle Spencer, former dean of the School of Journalism, Syracuse University, has defined news as “any event, idea or opinion that is timely, that interests and affects a large number of persons in the community, and that is capable of being understood by them," However, this definition is still imperfect. There are some events, ideas or opinions which may not be of interest nor do they affect a person in the community yet accounts of them are published as news items. However, beginners are advised to fully understand and remember Spencer's definition because it contains the major attributes of a good news story. Attributes. As taught in journalism classes, a news story has at feast seven attributes or elements that make it worthy of being published. Simply put, these elements determine whether an event or a pronouncement by a prominent person is "news worthy".There are generally three methods of news gathering:
ELEMENTS OF A NEWS STORY
Timeliness or Immediacy. This element is one of the most important attributes of a news story especially with the current level of competition among the various media outfits. A news story based on this element could either be a coverage story or a calendar story.
Proximity. This refers to the nearness of the unfolding event to the readers. As a rule, newspaper readers are more interested to learn about the incidents in their locality or in their own country rather than abroad, especially if the event has no direct impact on them. Thus students are primarily more interested to learn the happenings in their campus rather than
in other school.
Prominence. Normally, people in the government as well as wealthy businessmen and members of the entertainment world are regarded as prominent people and are thus, sources of news. Places are considered prominent if they become the scene of big events like the latest Chinese intrusions in the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal or a peasant rally in Mendiola where several protesters were killed by anti-riot policemen.
Significance or Consequence. This refers not only to the importance of an event but also how this event will affect the people. In reporting about the significance of an event the journalist must not rely solely on the facts. He has to interpret or explain the meaning of facts.
Oddity or Unusualness. Anything that deviates from the normal course of events is newsworthy. Thus, readers are always thrilled to read stories about haunted houses, a mysterious creature in the lake and other similar stuff.
Human Interest. In the coverage of big events like an oil price increase, priority is given for the figures pertaining to the increase. This composes the bulk of the hard news. However, there are some instances that a human interest story, which is basically a soft news, can be made on such big events like the effect of the increase on a market vendor. Stories such as this could very well serve as sidebar.
Sex. It is no secret that sexual escapades of prominent people, especially government officials and movie stars, have never failed to titillate the newspaper readers. Recently, news about college professors being accused of sexual .harassment by their students have also hogged newspaper headlines.
Gathering the news. Gathering the news, especially if your editors demand enterprise stories, is the most difficult part.
1. The actual coverage of an event2. Interview with a prominent personality
3. Writing from documents such as speeches, policy statements, research reports and other important documents. The easiest method, of course, is through the actualcoverage.
In the absence of such events, journalists are pressured to come out with enterprise stories which could either be through an interview of a prominent official or writing from a document such as special studies, research results and speeches.News sources may be generally classified into traditional,i.e., government officials, top business executives, church leaders; and non-traditional, mostly non-government organizations and cause-oriented groups. In the case of campus journalists, they could adopt the beatsystem in their own-university, treating it as a society in microcosm. The sameprinciples of news gathering will apply here, although more stress should beplaced in covering the studentry since they are the ones financing the newspaper.Generating stories for a regular issue of a collegenewspaper could be through the gathering of reactions concerning an issue, saytuition fee hike, follow-up on a running story, and a calendar story for aparticular event.
Writing a news. Writing the news is the easiest when you haveall the facts and figures needed for a story to stand. Actually, writing thestory is easier than the actual gathering of news.
All straight news is written in the inverted pyramid form, which is the traditional form of news writing. Based on this principle, the most important facts are placed at the beginning while the details and the background are woven into the succeeding paragraphs, in descending importance.The inverted pyramid has the following components:
2. Secondary or support lead. This portion explains orcomplements the main lead. Normally its length is twice the main lead in thetypewritten form.
1. Primary or main lead. Usually a single paragraph containing the four "Ws" (what, who, where, and when). This could take from three to five lines in typewritten form. This is the hardest part to write since the lead paragraph will determine whether the readers will read
your story or not. Experienced reporters place a premium on the lead since this will spell the difference with their competitors.
4. Background. Relevant past events are recounted andincorporated in this portion of the story. This portion may be deleted, ifspace in the newspaper will not allow, but still, the story can stand.
3. Details or particulars. To give flesh to the story, all available facts are included here especially those that would answer the other "W" (why) and one "H" (how). Writing this part is just a walk in the park after the lead paragraphs have been thoroughly fleshed out.
The use of inverted pyramid structure in news writing has the following advantages: it facilitates reading, editing, and lastly, it facilitates headline writing.
Writing the lead paragraph. The lead paragraph is the first sentence, or the first two or three sentences, you read in a news story. A lead gives the reader enough facts to quickly grasp what happened.
In writing the lead paragraph, a reporter should first analyze the facts to see what really happened. Choose the most significant information the reader needs to know—then pull that first.There are several possibilities in writing the leadparagraph. You can tell the readers something new, something important to them, something amusing, something unexpected or something that stirs emotions.Deciding what angle to use in the lead will determine whether
you write a catchy, feature-type lead or straight, factual, hard news lead.
Though linking about the five "Ws" and one "H" is an easy way to break your lead ideas into various components, do not look upon the system as a formula. This will also spare the reporter and the reader from the boredom resulting in writing identical-lead paragraphs in every story.
ELEMENTS OF Lead
Summary Lead. It gives the summary of the whole story by giving (he first four "Ws" (who, what, where, and when).Punch Lead. It is short, abrupt and definite. It surprises and intrigues the readers. Picture Lead. This device attempts a pictorial account of an event. This is used in so called "color stories".
Contrast Lead. It emphasizes the turn around or the difference between the past and present status of a person or a place.Question Lead. It raises a query in the hope of inducing the reader to read on.Freak Lead. It throws caution to the air by trying to be different. .
Sequence Lead. A series of paragraphs, usually arranged chronologically but with a single effect. Suspended Interest lead. The writer "strings along" the reader to the very end before him the news peg on which the story is based.
Staccato Lead. It stresses the time element, and usually consists of phrases, punctuated commas or dashes.Figurative Lead. Triteness is the main danger of thiskind of lead. Common sense should dictate when to use it.
Epigram Lead. The tone or the moral of the story isstressed,Quotation Lead. This could be a popular quotation from a historical figure or a statement from a prominent person which became famous for being controversial and pregnant with intrigue.
1. Use short, simple, declarative sentences instead of complex and compound-complex ones.2. Don't try to say everything in one sentence. Break up long sentences.
TIPS ON WRITING A GOOD LEAD:
3. Never use an important or unusual word twice in the same sentence.
4. Avoid repetition of phrases.
As a rule, journalists are required to write their Story assoon as they finish gathering the facts. The same rule, however, would be beneficialfor campus Journalists since this wilt further hone their skills in newswriting and will surely contribute to the early release of the regular issue.
TIPS ON WRITING A NEWS STORY:
Following are some tips on how to go about writing the news story:
1. Think first, then write.2. Get to the point.
3. Use familiar words.4. Omit verbal deadwood
5. Keep your sentences short.6. Shorten your paragraph.
7. Use specific, concrete language.8. Prefer the simple to the complex.
9. Use the active voice.10. Write as you talk.
11. Use adjectives sparingly.12. Revise and sharpen.
13. Write to express, not to impress.
--- Hope this helps. ^^