How to Write a Good Newspaper Article

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Many people, at some point, find themselves wondering exactly how to go about writing a newspaper article. Young, aspiring journalists and reporters may need to write a newspaper article for a journalism class or school newspaper. Then there's business owners and volunteers for various groups and organizations who have to write newspaper articles for submission to a local publication concerning a notable event or initiative. And remember, a well-written article or press release is more likely to be published. Use these tips to guide a newspaper article writing endeavor.

Things You'll Need

  • A Word Processor Program on a Computer -OR- an Old School Typewriter
  • A Dictionary
  • Someone to Proof Read
  • A Method to Submit the Article (by e-mail, snail mail or hand-delivery)
  • Write a strong lead. The first paragraph of the article is also called the lead. This paragraph - usually one or two sentences - must be a brief summary of the main purpose of the article, which answers the basic questions of "who, what, when, where, how and why."

  • Write the newspaper article in the inverted pyramid format. This means the most important, most vital facts should be mentioned first, with the less important facts mentioned later in the article. The first paragraph must be more important than the second, and the second paragraph more important than the third and so on.

  • Read over the article body and where necessary, provide support for all claims and arguments need attribution. If you're making an assertion in the article, this must be attributed to someone. Ask yourself, "According to who?" If information in an article cannot be attributed to a reliable, appropriate source, it's not suitable for publication. This will avoid the publication of erroneous claims, rumors and hearsay.

  • Write a conclusion to re-summarize the most important facts of the article. When writing about a series of events, newspaper article conclusion will also usually provide information on the next step in the process. The conclusion should also include information on where to obtain more information, such as a website or phone number - these should be the very last things in an article, making them easy for the reader to find and refer back to.

Tips & Warnings

  • When writing about an event, chronological order is vital and it's usually a form of the inverted pyramid. But if the most important part of the story occurs later in the series of events, be sure to mention this important fact early on in the article, in the first, second or third paragraph.
  • Use word economy. If you can say it in five words instead of ten, then five words is all you need.
  • No big words! Newspapers are written for a twelve-year-old's reading level, in order to accommodate readers of all backgrounds and abilities. Big, fancy wording is fine for academic writing or novels, but in newspapers, big, fancy words only confuse readers.
  • Provide background information. When writing about the latest in a series of events, do not assume precursory knowledge. Assume the reader is picking up the newspaper for the very first time, with no prior knowledge about a situation.
  • Write for the layman. If a newspaper article discusses things that are not considered to be common knowledge, background information must be provided. When in doubt, spell it out for people.
  • Always look up words that you're unsure how to spell. A newspaper article full of spelling errors has little credibility.
  • Always present both sides of an argument, even if it's just in passing. It's vital that the opposite point of view is represented, or readers may mistakenly believe the primary view that's discussed is the only view.
  • When wondering what facts to write about next when writing a newspaper in pyramid format, ask, "What's the most important fact that I've yet to address?" This will give a newspaper article greater direction.
  • When using quotations, be sure to capture the speaker's or writer's intention. Do not misrepresent a point of view by using quotations out of context or in a manner that the speaker did not intend.
  • Get your quotes correct! If your quotes are wrong, you're going to hear about it and this is very damaging to a journalist's credibility within the community. Use a tape recorder, if necessary. And if you're unsure about the wording of a quote, don't use it.
  • Do you know what libel is? Do you know what constitutes libel? If not, you should! Anyone who writes a newspaper article must understand what is libelous. Libel can land you in court or in the unemployment office (for professional journalists), so learn about libel before writing a newspaper article. (See links)

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