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Organizing a News Story

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1 Organizing a News Story
Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication Arizona State University

2 Now what? Great that you can write a summary lead -- a promise of a story. But how do you move from a lead to a story? How do you fulfill that promise? Your story will need structure, some form of organization.

3 Story structures Inverted pyramid Hourglass Circle Feature
Other approaches are covered in the textbook.

4 Inverted pyramid Most to Least Important Facts                                                                                                                                                                                     

5 Inverted pyramid Most Popular News Structure
Facts in Descending Order of Importance Most Important Material at Story Beginning Succeeding Grafs Explain & Amplify Lead Less Important Material Follows

6 Inverted pyramid The inverted pyramid is popular because it still serves readers well. It tells them quickly what they want to know. It also allows reporters to focus their news judgment, to identify and rank the most important elements of the story.

7 Inverted pyramid Summary lead News in descending importance
Background facts high Quotes interspersed Use of transitions No editorializing End when done, often with quote

8 Example High school eligibility simplified for evacuees
By Jose E. Garcia The Arizona Republic

9 Summary lead The Arizona Interscholastic Association cleared the way Wednesday for Hurricane Katrina evacuees in the state to play high school sports here.

10 Following up The AIA Executive Board voted unanimously to allow school administrators and students and parents to fill out an eligibility hardship two-page waiver that the AIA drafted for this circumstance. The students will not have to show any identification, such as a birth certificate, to prove eligibility.

11 Background The students were displaced this month when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, forcing mass evacuations from New Orleans and other cities that were devastated in the aftermath.

12 News in descending order
Chuck Schmidt, an AIA assistant executive director, estimates about 70 evacuees will participate in AIA-sanctioned events, from athletics to band, this school year. Some athletes already are practicing with local teams and may see action as soon as Friday.

13 Quotes interspersed Troy Harris, a junior already enrolled at Chandler High, is practicing with the varsity football team and was waiting on the AIA's decision on whether he can play on Friday against Mesa Westwood. The defensive back was rescued from the roof of his parent's suburban New Orleans home after the hurricane. "It's not important for me to start or anything," Harris said. "After what I've been through, I can relax and release some of the anger and fear I have inside me. I can just let loose on the football field. It will help take my mind off what's happened. It eases me."

14 Use transitions Some administrators and coaches have expressed a concern that some programs may gain an athletic advantage with evacuees who transfer in. However, Schmidt said the AIA's priority is to get the displaced students to feel somewhat at home on Valley high school sports fields.

15 Ending "Our concern is to give these kids an opportunity to participate," Schmidt said.

16 Inverted Pyramid Advantages
Gives the gist of the story in first few grafs. Delivers the most important news first so that hurried readers quickly get the story gist. Satisfies reader curiosity in a natural way from important to least important facts. Facilitates copydesk headline writing. Makes story cutting from the bottom easier.

17 Hourglass Style

18 Hourglass The hourglass combines some of the best elements of the inverted pyramid and narrative story-telling.

19 Hourglass The hourglass consists of three parts:
A top, which tells the news quickly The turn, a nimble transition The narrative, a chronological retelling of events

20 Hourglass Advantages Readers get the news high in the story
The writer gets to use storytelling techniques It encourages a real ending

21 Hourglass The hourglass works well with police, fire stories, meetings, courtroom dramas and other incidents that lend themselves to chronological narration.

22 Circle Style

23 Circle A more feature-friendly approach that brings stories “full circle” by tying the story end to the lead.

24 Circle Style Advantages
Narrative and descriptive writing can be used. Readers can attach to a key source and feel story is about the source as well as a broader topic. Based on effective storytelling techniques that can keep readers interested to the end. Editors cannot slash the story from the bottom.

25 References Itule, B.D., and Anderson, D.A. News Writing and Reporting for Today’s Media. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies Hall, J. Beginning Reporting. Garcia, Jose E. “High school eligibility simplified for evacuees.” The Arizona Republic 15 Sept. 2005: C1.

26 Features: Writing with a heart
There’s an infinite number of feature possibilities. The best way to find them is to look around you -- look at the news, talk to people in class, the grocery store, library, lunch room, home, neighborhood, at social events and everywhere you go. Just live! Whatever you find around you is a potential story.

27 Types of Features Personality Profiles Human Interest Stories
News with more relaxed time deadlines Personality Profiles Human Interest Stories Trend Stories In-Depth Stories Analysis Pieces

28 Feature Organization Tips
1) Choose a theme. 2) Write a lead that invites us into the story. 3) Write clear concise sentences. Provide vital background information. Use a thread.

29 More Feature Tips Use transitions. Use dialogue when possible.
Use Voice. 7) End with a quotation or extended thread.

30 Feature Idea Examples Can you localize the ideas below to your campus?
Profile people who are making news or offer human interest. 2) Explain events that are making the news. Analyze school, community, nation or world happening. Consider education,health, accidents, census, law enforcement, data bases. 4) Teach your audience how to do something.

31 Feature Ideas (cont) Can you localize these ideas to your campus?
Suggest better ways to live from complicated world to high school campus. 6) Examine trends in society. 7) Take people somewhere to see something they haven’t seen before. 8) Entertain or humor an audience.

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