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How to write a news story A news

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					How to write a news story A news story can jolt your emotions, explain the complex, reveal something new or maybe even make you change your mind. That’s powerful stuff for just a few words. Keeping members informed is often cited as a priority in branches. With a news story you have the chance to do so in an easily accessible way. The way a story is written is just as important as what goes inside your newsletter. There’s no mystery to this. Writing a news story is not difficult. Read on to find out how… Simplicity Think about who your audience is and what you want to say to them. What will attract their attention, keep them absorbed and make it worth their while? Think about what you are trying to do in your story. To inform? To educate? It is your job to present facts in an interesting, possibly entertaining, definitely informative, way. The best way to do this, as with most things, is to keep it simple. People Link your stories to people. For example, if the story is about a pay claim, show how it will affect members’ pay packets. This is because people make news. We’re interested in what they say, what they do and how things affect them. Facts The most useful formula for writing a news story was composed by Rudyard Kipling.

‘I have six honest serving men, They taught me all I knew, Their names are what and why and when And how and where and who’
If you answer all these questions in your piece, you’re well on the way to writing a good sound news story. The important thing about this rhyme is that it forces you to concentrate on the facts – names, address, titles etc. If you don’t get your facts right, you risk ridicule, lack of credibility, libel suits or worse, no one will read your newsletter.

Remember, members want information. Order The next important factor is ordering your information. Get your facts to fall in the right place to keep your story interesting and digestible. How? Keep it short. Don’t bore your readers with detail in the introductory paragraph. Keep it simple and short. A good guideline is to try to keep the intro to 25 words. Think about it in this way. If you have a good piece of gossip and you meet friend in the street, what do you tell them first? It’s usually the most important piece of information first, then secondary nuggets of information that enhance your story, followed by (sometimes) unnecessary detail. Another way to think about it is if a news story was a shape, then it would be a triangle. Important news at the pinnacle, supported by gradually growing layers of additional info. One of the reasons for this useful way of organising your stories is that if you have limited space in your newsletter, you can cut from the bottom and the story will not lose anything. And never start a news story with a quote. This device is acceptable for features but not news stories. Quotes are used to provide opinion, not facts. Waffle-free The best way to steer clear of waffle is to keep sentences short. Try to write sentences of no more than ten words. Like that one. The idea being that you uncover one new idea in every sentence. Of course not everything you want to say falls neatly into ten words. But if you find your sentences stretching out to include clauses, digressions and other bits tagged on, it’s probably time you started a new sentence. Another good practice is to try to write no more than one sentence per paragraph.

News writing is about boiling down the story, concentrating on the facts. This way you will keep stories brief and to the point. Don’t assume your readers have hours of leisure time to pore over your prose. They don’t. Tightly-written stories will be read, longer detail-filled items will come across as tedious. Everyday language And most vital – keep it active. Seize those verbs. Make them work for you, not trailing behind a stream of multi-syllabic nouns or adjectives. Use short, snappy, precise words. Avoid foreign words. Jargon, technical words, abbreviation and puns you may think are clever to use at the time but will mystify your readers. The last thing you want is to stop your readers in their tracks. Heavy alliteration is also off-putting and hard to read. Slang diminishes the value of your story and makes it less credible. Use everyday language. If you’re not sure, check the UNISON style guide. All this emphasis on facts risks a pretty dry story. This is where quotes come in. Use direct quotes to add opinion. Quotes are useful because they can liven up a story, eg Mary Smith said: ‘This is an outrageous attack on our most vulnerable members.’


				
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posted:12/17/2009
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