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  News Reporting & Writing Story Structures Gerry Doyle.

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Presentation on theme: "  News Reporting & Writing Story Structures Gerry Doyle."— Presentation transcript:

1   News Reporting & Writing Story Structures Gerry Doyle

2  Beyond the Lead  News writing not only addresses the structure of your sentences but also the structure of the entire story.  The structure of a news story presents information in a specific way, using the factors of relative importance, the audience and the tone of the story.

3  Structuring the News Story  The basic structure for a news story for print and the Web is often called the “inverted pyramid.”  The emphasis is on the most newsworthy items in your reporting.  The story trails off with less important facts.

4  Structuring the News Story  Another way to think of the news story is to think of the inverted pyramid as having four elements:  1. The lead  2. Facts that support, explain and amplify the lead  3. Historical background and current context  4. Secondary material

5  Part 1: The Lead 1. The lead:  The first paragraph, usually one or at most two sentences. Only the most important facts of the story belong in the lead.

6  A hard news lead is meant to perform two functions: 1. To tell in a few words what has happened. 2. To grab the reader’s interest and prompt him to read further. Part 1: The Lead

7   The lead contains some or all of the five W’s: who, what when, where and why? It might include attribution.  The lead will sometimes put the event into context. Part 1: The Lead

8  Part 2: Expanding the Lead 2. Facts that support, explain and amplify the lead:  The section that follows the lead can be one, two or many paragraphs long.  It should contain all the major facts of the story.  It should show that the lead is accurate by providing supporting material.

9  Part 2: Expanding the Lead More on Part 2:  It should explain any facts that the lead does not completely explain.  If the lead is based on what someone has said, it is important to include a quote by that person, showing that the statement was really made.

10  Part 3: Background & Context  Sometimes it is necessary to explain what took place before the news event, to show how the situation arrived at its current state.  This is the background to the story.

11  Part 3: Background & Context  Sometimes other factors are at work that will have an effect on the news event.  This is the context in which the event is taking place, and it is often necessary to describe these factors in order for readers to understand the situation fully.

12  Part 3: Background & Context  Background and context can appear anywhere in a story where they are necessary for full understanding.

13  Part 4: Secondary Material  These are facts that can help to build a complete picture of a situation, but which are of secondary importance.  They may be left out of the story entirely without harming the story’s completeness.

14   What if we start a story with the most important information and end with key information?  Works well with feature stories  Narration and storytelling  Bad for hard news—why? Are there other ways to organize a story?

15  Example Top: John Smith is building an airplane in his back yard. Middle: Why is he building the airplane? (his background, history, friends, etc.) End: John Smith flew away, never to be seen again. “The Hourglass”

16   Leave “breadcrumbs” or “nuggets” if important and interesting information throughout story  Think of it as telling a story in the order that the events occur. What if we spread information evenly?

17  Example Top: John Smith and his friends are preparing for a ski trip. Middle: They go out on the mountain, where they have skied many times before. Middle: There is a catastrophic avalanche, and many of them die. End: Their friends are left to pick up the pieces. (“Snow fall,” New York Times: fall/) “The Kebab”

18   Read New York Times’ “Snow fall” series  Read handout on Inverted Pyramid  Read “Newswriting Basics” All three will be posted on the course blog by the end of the day. Assignments:


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