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Chapter 4
 

HOW DO YOU TELL A BASIC NEWS STORY?

 

Examples

Exercises

 

SHORT AND SWEET 

 

Check out Poynter's Lead Lab. It only takes an hour and it's free, although you'll need to register.

 

Traditional inverted pyramid style leads work especially well for online writing. Here's an example that shows why (from MulinBlog, by digital journalism educator Mu Lin).

 

 

INVERTED PYRAMIDS ARE NOT THE ONLY NEWS STORIES: LITERARY JOURNALISM

 

Knowing how to tell inverted pyramid stories is an essential skill for journalists. But we also think it's never too early to explore other ways of telling news stories.

 

What is literary journalism, anyway? Here's a detailed description (from the Nieman Storyboard).

 

"God knows I didn't have anything new in mind, much less anything literary, when I took my first newspaper job." Tom Wolfe, a classic literary journalist (or "new journalist"), writes about what literary journalism is and how he started doing it (New York Magazine).

 

In "John Wayne: a love song," literary journalist Joan Didion writes about the summer she first saw John Wayne:  "Saw the walk, heard the voice. Heard him tell the girl in a picture called War of the Wildcats that he would build her a house, 'at the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.'" Some of her other essays are available for free online.  And you can watch a video clip of her reading from her book, "Blue Nights." 

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CubReporters talks about preparing to write and structuring your news story.

Writer Armando Roggio offers some good tips on writing inverted pyramid leads and using the structure for blogs.

In this short video, NPR's Scott Simon talks about how to tell effective news stories. Pacing is key. "A story has to be told in short, breatheable sections," he says. 

In this 17-minute video, journalism professor Ken Blake uses live edits as he walks you through how to write effective news leads. "There are plenty of leads that are awfully good that do not conform to all or even any of these rules, but what I'm doing here is giving you some guidelines," Blake says.  "If you follow these guidelines, you'll write a good lead every time." He includes a lesson on active and passive voice as well.