Saturday, February 27, 2010


“How to Write a News Story.”

The first paragraph: “the lead” (in newsroom-speak it is spelled “the lede”).

This second paragraph: is the part of the story that seeks to convince you to drop your preconceptions and take this lesson with us, “the nut ‘graph” because it provides “the context of what the lede is: The lede explains ‘what happened’ and the nut explains ‘what does it mean?’” Truth is, the best writers learn over and over again how to write a news story

“Typically, if you are working in quick news fashion,” George comments, “you want to follow the nut with a quote: A very simple statement from someone who was at the event that gives context, life and meaning to what you have just written.”

Four easy steps to write: A lede, a nut ‘graph, a quote and then add background information

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

early questions for journalists, who is your audience. One: who are your readers? Two: who are your editors? Are you writing for a general audience? Or are you writing for a niche audience?

With a general audience you cannot get into the minutia and fine detail that you would if writing for an audience that already knows about the subject matter.”

two general approaches to write a basic news story

“You either answer these five questions: ‘Who? What? When? Where? Why?’

Or you answer three questions: ‘What? So what? Now what?’

“The lede is sort of a poetic set-up for your story. It must sum up the essence of the news event.”

The power of repetition as a teaching tool.

1. Lede. 2. Nut. 3. Quote. 4. Background

“Background is the historical significance of the event, maybe the events that led up to the moment that you’ve just covered,” the most important history that must be known if your reader can only read four paragraphs or sentences of a story

four paragraphs: Your lead, your nut, your quote, your background. That is a very, very basic structure of a news story.”

George offers an example of a lede: “In Los Angeles the Board of Education today voted to extend eating rights for children.”

George follows it with a sample nut ‘graph: “Although this will improve the health of the district’s two million children, it will cost Los Angeles five million dollars.”

“But he used to say you only get four paragraphs at most. You gotta pack everything in there. George already talked about the structure of a story. Why should your audience care about what you are writing about?”

Erin then outlines five general points to keep in mind when writing: timeliness, conflict, currency, prominence and proximity.

Timeliness, happen recently or did it happen a long time ago?

Conflict, where the conflict is, no conflict not interesting

Currency, are people talking about the issue you are reporting on?

Prominence, to serve the community below, if someone with great power has done something very bad or wrong that is also a story.”

Proximity, relevant to where you are located

“You Can Organize It Later”

“There are lots of problems I see with writing. “One that is common is that a news story will be written like an essay paper. It tells you nothing that you didn’t already know.”

“The second thing, people assume their audience already knows what they know, but only referred to it as the EZLN, they would not know

Three, “Another problem is leaving the audience with unanswered questions,” a prisoner on death row. what he did

Four, facts are stated but no source is given,” 8,000 people died. who is saying that, where the information is coming from

in the end, not about structure or format, experiment with a variety of forms. don’t think about the structure first. Just put it down on paper, organize it later

another set of eyes, someone who doesn’t know the facts

In an interview, not to transcribe every word, knowing which quotes in advance one
will want to use

“writer’s block,”, do something else

“We Are Not Writing a Book”

one genre, Writing a profile of a person, in every phrase there is an idea or information to interest your reader in the person you are profiling

“The first three sentences are very important if they don’t like them then they stop reading.”

important tricks of obtaining a good interview, you will learn many more things if the person that you interview thinks you don’t know anything.”

write a lede, then a nut ‘graph, add a quote, and then offer background

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