News is the term used to describe events that are reported in newspapers and broadcast on radio or television. The main purpose of news is to inform readers, listeners and viewers. However, it can also be entertaining and amusing – for example when stories are told in a way which is humorous. Entertainment can come from other areas – music and drama programs on radio and television; cartoons and crossword puzzles in newspapers. It is not the job of news to entertain, but it can amuse.
Generally speaking, news is about people – what they do and how they affect other people. However, it is also possible for natural phenomena to make the news – earthquakes, bush fires, cyclones and volcanic eruptions all generate interest when they occur. In general, the more unusual or significant a piece of news is, the more likely it is to attract attention and become widely discussed.
The key to writing an interesting and compelling news article is to have a good understanding of your audience. Ask yourself questions like: who is the audience I am writing for, where are they located (locally or nationally), why do they read this news, and what do they want to know about the story? Answering these questions will help you decide how to approach the story, what facts to include and how to present the information.
Always begin a news article with an exciting lede (in journalism jargon this means the first paragraph) that grabs the reader’s attention and provides important details about the story. This is a great opportunity to use the active voice, which is more immediate and requires fewer words than the passive voice. For example: “Manchester United beat Arsenal” is a more exciting lead than “Arsenal were beaten by Manchester United”.
Write clearly and concisely. Stick to the inverted pyramid format – put the most important information at the beginning of the article, so that the reader can see it without having to scroll down the page or screen. Avoid using clichéd phrases or unnecessary words which will confuse and irritate the reader. It is always better to use the active tense rather than the passive tense. For example: “Arsenal lost” is faster and clearer than “Arsenal were defeated”.
When writing a news article it is advisable to let someone else read it before submission. They will be able to catch any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that you might have missed. In addition, they will be able to provide additional information about the topic or people which will enhance the story and make it stand out from its competitors. It is particularly useful to get a second opinion if the piece is going to be published in a publication with many competing sources of news. A good editor can also improve the overall style and tone of a news article.