Communication Department

Writing News

 

How do you write a news story?
 
Here are guidelines from the Adventist News Network:
 
1. Accuracy
Time pressures, deadlines, or difficulty in contacting primary sources of information all contribute to inaccurate reporting. Yet accuracy remains the single most important aspect of news writing. Verifying information and double-checking quotes is fundamental.
 
2. Objectivity
For news to have value, it must be perceived as objective. A reporter cannot make subjective or promotional statements without doing irretrievable damage to the credibility of his or her news report.
 
3. The “inverted pyramid” structure
“A good lead sentence is like ice—so slick that, before they realize it, readers have slid into the middle of your story.” –Professor Carl Sessions Stepp, University of Maryland
 
The basis of the so-called “inverted pyramid” style of news writing is arranging information and facts in descending order of importance within the article. Therefore, the lead, or introductory sentence, should draw out the most significant aspect or facts. The lead sentence must tell readers why this story is important and why they should keep reading it.
 
Lead sentence/first paragraph:
Most significant aspect of the story and essential information—what, when, who.
 
Middle:
Develop the story with more information. Use quotes. Explain why, how.
 
Tell What, Why, When, How, Where, and Who.
As a general rule, every news story must answer the questions: “What, Why, When, How, Where, and Who.” Don’t assume that your audience is already familiar with the context of the story or basic background information. Be concise, but be sure to include all essential information.
 
4. Avoid Adventist Jargon
Using Adventist jargon can alienate an audience unfamiliar with religious terms or administrative jargon of the church. In the unofficial dialect of “Adventist-speak,” a new church member may be referred to as a “precious soul won for Christ.” At evangelistic meetings, the speaker “preached the Word,” “hearts were touched,” and “the Lord blessed.” Such phrases can invade the work of any Adventist writer, raising communication barriers that obscure the main message. Effective communicators make the effort to recognize and translate Adventist jargon so that anyone can read and understand.
 
5. Other Style Points
  • Avoid sexist language, such as using “he” or “his” as generic for both men and women.
  • Acronyms should be spelled out in full when first used in an article. The acronym alone is sufficient for all subsequent usages, e.g. the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).