Structure and length - the architecture of a good news story

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John Newton
 
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Once you have identified a good news story and gathered in all your facts you are faced with the tricky bit - actually writing it. The previous blog on the inverted pyramid and the five Ws will have helped you get a handle on what should be in the story and a basic approach.

To add a bit more detail to the bones. You should structure your news story in short, one to two sentence paragraphs as follows:-

Intro - sets the angle and gives the fundamental facts.

Para 1 - supporting facts.

Para 2 - a direct quote from someone involved.

Para 3 - more facts to develop the story.

Para 4 - a second quote.

Para 5 - a few more facts filling in the background.

This basic structure, which follows the inverted pyramid format, will keep your writing tight and means that readers who only skim the first couple of paras will find out everything they really need to know. Those who are interested can carry on reading for additional detail.

Finally, people often wonder how long a news story should be - a stock answer is that it should be as long as it needs to be. Trust your judgement - you will know if it is dragging on a bit and you also know what you find readable. There are no absolute rules on this and it depends on the subject but the best advice is always to keep it concise.

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