Writing in a journalistic style is a specialized skill. It’s based on the following principles:
In other words, keep your writing clear, concise, and correct. This approach can improve anyone’s writing
How important are strong writing skills? You may be the smartest, funniest, most well-spoken person in the world, but if your writing is rambling and full of misused words or poor grammar, you'll come across as sloppy.
Here are some tips from Sylvan Learning to help you to communicate more effectively. You can use these suggestions to put together your News Day audition, as well as apply them to other writing tasks, such as school assignments, essays, e-mails, blog posts, and more. Once you master this style, your writing will become clearer and easier to read.
At the heart of news writing are the 3 C’s: Clear, Concise and Correct.
Headline: This is the title of the story. It should grab people's attention but mustn't mislead them. It should be short, bright, and sum up the story. If you're not sure, tell the story to a friend – what's the first thing you say to them? That's a good guide to the most interesting part of a story and will help you pare down the information for headline purposes.
Subhead: Also known as a deck, this fleshes out the core information in the main headline and helps lead the reader into the story. It's rarely a complete sentence but action is implied, as in "Mayor target of investigation." The "is" is implied.
Lead: The opening line or paragraph of a story tells the most important point or summarizes the most important information. Your goal is to distill this information into a brief, sharp statement focusing on the essential facts.
Structure: Use an "inverted pyramid" structure. Put the most important information at the beginning of the story, and less important details in subsequent paragraphs. This way, readers can explore a topic only to the depth their curiosity takes them. They can stop reading at any point and still come away with the essence of a story. Only the very interested reader will usually read all the way through a story.
5W1H: Always answer the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why”, and “how” of the story, keeping in mind that few leads can fit all of these in one sentence or paragraph. Is the event you're covering most important? The individual? The action that is going to take place? You have to judge what is going to be most important to the reader and sum that up in your lead.
Multiple Sources: The more people you talk to, the better your story. You can use direct quotes or paraphrase what someone says, but always remember to identify who says what. Quotations will add interest, so listen for colourful or amusing quotes when you interview people. You can use an indirect quote that serves to support a major element in the lead paragraph, followed by a direct quote to support the indirect quote – but don't repeat yourself.
Tone: Your job as a reporter is to report facts and the opinions of others and to leave your own opinions out of the story. The term for introducing your own opinion into a story is called editorializing. Don't do this unless you're writing something that requires a personal point of view or opinion.
Sentence Length: Sentences should have an average of 20-28 words. You don't need to spend time counting; just be aware that sentences and paragraphs are much shorter than you may have been taught in high school composition.
On March 27th, CBC and The Vancouver Sun will once again be taken over by News Day student reporters. The stories featured on this day will come from the students and cover issues that matter most to them.
In the past, student reporters have filed stories on the alarming increase in teen drug use, depression and cutting, the impact of a new grading system and profiled a 17 year old joining the army just to name a few.
Check out stories and pictures from last year’s News Day in B.C. and sign up for the workshop today!
All 30 finalists will receive a $1000 scholarship for post-secondary studies, courtesy of Sylvan Learning.