news writing

profileDalbir Singh

News writing

COMM 205

Writing for the Media

Week 2

– the most frequent problem faced by beginning news writers is WHERE TO START? – LIKE WRITER’S BLOCK

– we will help you learn where to start

– after that it’s easy, trust me

– once you get into the habit it’s automatic

– As a journalist, you must also forget about drawing conclusions

– journalists don’t draw conclusions

– they only present facts

– How do you end your story?

– it’s very simple: JUST STOP WRITING

– when you have written all you can in your allotted space, you are finished

Different from academic writing

Academic writing:




Media writing:

Lead with most important facts

Follow with next most important facts


Some basic rules

write in the past tense

write in the third person – use he, she or they, not I, we or you

keep your sentences short: 20-25 words

keep your paragraphs short, usually no more than two sentences

weed out unnecessary words

The inverted pyramid

write in the inverted pyramid style

top-heavy in important facts

leave old news and details for later

lead paragraph is the most important

make sure it has the most important info

Problems in news writing

Where to start?

Not at beginning. Start with what is NEW

Distill essence of story in order of importance to the audience

How to end?

Just stop writing

Facts of lesser importance at end

Allows editors to “cut” story from bottom

for this course not only will you need to learn media writing

– but you also need to unlearn some of the writing habits you have learned


for this course you will have to learn different WAYS of writing

– News writing is much different from academic writing

– there are subtle differences between newspaper writing and writing for broadcast

– and there are differences between news writing and public relations writing

-- and advertising copy writing

This course is intended to teach you a bit about each of these

– but more importantly the differences between them

You must learn more than one way of writing – FLEXIBILITY KEY – HARD TO SWITCH

You are all here because you have learned very well to write in a certain way

– You learned throughout your schooling to write in an academic way

There is a certain structure to the academic writing style

– You start with an introduction

– Then you proceed to the main BODY of your essay

– And you end by drawing some conclusions

**For this course and for other media writing courses you must FORGET THAT**

– Forget the introduction

– journalists get into their subject by taking a direct approach

The Five Ws . . . and one H







Simple . . . or short?

shorter words usually better

less complicated, so more understandable

avoid worst writing mistake of all

trying to show off by using big words, etc.

The importance of re-writing

nothing is written perfectly first time

because it can always be improved after a good re-writing

if possible, give time before re-writing

work on something else

or have someone else rewrite it

good copy editor a writer’s best friend