News is a collection of events, facts and opinions that occur daily. It may be a political or social event, a natural disaster or an economic crisis. News is often gathered by journalists from various sources, including people who witness the event, or public statements made by the subject of the story. News reports should not include the journalist’s opinion or bias, as this can skew the facts and lead to misinformation. A well written news article will focus on the key points of the event and will leave the reader with enough information to make up their own mind about the issue.
The classic definition of a good news story is “dog bites man” – but in fact any event that is new, unusual, interesting, significant or about people can be considered as newsworthy. Generally, the more of these criteria that a news item has, the more important it is.
A good news story will start with an exciting lead that grabs the reader’s attention. This is usually done through a dramatic anecdote, a surprising fact or an important breaking news update. It should then introduce the rest of the story and provide context for why the subject matter is important. This part is known as the “nut graph” and it should answer the five W’s – who, what, when, where and why.
When reporting on a person, it is best to use their full name on first reference, rather than a single initial. It is also preferable to write in the third person rather than the second, unless there is a compelling reason for using first person. In general, it is better to avoid switching between first and third person throughout the article, as this can jar readers and can look unprofessional.
Whenever possible, try to get quotes from the subjects of your stories. This is an excellent way to get a feel for the people involved in the event and can be a great source of information for your story. In particular, quotes from sources with credibility are particularly valuable. This could be a politician, business leader, academic or sports star.
In addition, it is helpful to have a clear idea of the audience for your news story. Most newspapers and websites have a clear target demographic that they aim to reach. This can be based on geography, such as a newspaper in Kansas City targeting residents of that town, or it might be a specific niche such as a website about the zoning laws in commercial districts.
Finally, remember that it is not always easy to separate agenda from the facts of a news story. However, a site that clearly marks opinion columns as such, employs a team of professional journalists and makes a point of being transparent about its sources, methods and conflicts of interest is less likely to have an agenda than a website that doesn’t do any of these things.