How to Write a News Article
News articles report on current events that are relevant to the readership of a publication. These current events might take place locally, nationally, or internationally.
News writing is a skill that’s used worldwide, but this writing format—with its unique rules and structure—differs from other forms of writing . Understanding how to write a news story correctly can ensure you’re performing your journalistic duty to your audience.
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What is a news article?
A news article is a writing format that provides concise and factual information to a reader. News stories typically report on current affairs that are noteworthy—including legislation, announcements, education, discoveries or research, election results, public health, sports, and the arts.
Unlike blog and opinion posts, a strong news article doesn’t include personal opinion, speculation, or bias. Additionally, the diction and syntax should be accessible to any reader, even if they’re not deeply familiar with the topic. News stories, therefore, don’t contain jargon that you might find in a research paper or essay.
What are the rules for writing a news article?
Whether you’re learning how to write a short news story for a school assignment or want to showcase a variety of clips in your writing portfolio , the rules of news writing hold true.
There are three types of news articles:
- Local: reports on current events of a specific area or community. For example, “College Football Team Welcomes Legendary NFL Coach” or “School District Announces New Grading Policy.”
- National: reports on current affairs within a particular country. For example, “NASA’s James Webb Telescope Captures Surreal Images of the Cosmos.”
- International: reports on social issues or current affairs of one or more countries abroad. For example, “UK’s Record Heat Wave Expected to Continue Next Week.”
Regardless of the type of news article you’re writing, it should always include the facts of the story, a catchy but informative headline, a summary of events in paragraph form, and interview quotes from expert sources or of public sentiment about the event. News stories are typically written from a third-person point of view while avoiding opinion, speculation, or an informal tone.
How is a news article structured?
While many news stories are concise and straightforward, long-form or deeply investigated pieces may comprise thousands of words. On the shorter side, news articles can be about 500 words.
When it comes to how to structure a news article, use an inverted pyramid. Organizing your content this way allows you to thoughtfully structure paragraphs :
- Begin with the most important and timely information
- Follow those facts with supporting details
- Conclude with some less important—but relevant—details, interview quotes, and a summary
The first paragraph of a news article should begin with a topic sentence that concisely describes the main point of the story. Placing this sentence at the beginning of a news article hooks the reader immediately so the lede isn’t buried.
At a traditional newspaper, this practice is described as “writing above the fold,” which alludes to the biggest, most pressing news being visible at the top of a folded newspaper.
How to write a news article
There are a handful of steps to practice when writing a news story. Here’s how to approach it.
1 Gathering information
Source the five Ws about your news topic: who, what, where, when, and why. Lock down a keen understanding of the timeline of events so you can correctly summarize the incident or news to your reader. The key is to position yourself as a credible and reliable source of information by doing your due diligence as a fact gatherer.
2 Interviewing subjects
Consider who you want to interview for the new article. For example, you might choose to interview primary sources , such as a person who is directly involved in the story.
Alternatively, secondary sources might offer your readers insight from people close to or affected by the topic who have unique perspectives. This might be an expert who can offer technical commentary or analysis, or an everyday person who can share an anecdote about how the topic affected them.
When interviewing sources, always disclose that you’re a reporter and the topic that you’re writing on.
Draft an outline for your news article, keeping the inverted-pyramid structure in mind. Consider your potential readership and publication to ensure that your writing meets the audience’s expectations in terms of complexity.
For example, if this news article is for a general news publication, your readership might include a wider audience compared to a news article for a specialized publication or community.
Brainstorm a snappy headline that concisely informs readers of the news topic while seizing their interest. Gather the most important points from your research and pool them into their respective pyramid “buckets.” These buckets should be based on their order of importance.
Get to writing! The paragraphs in a news article should be short, to the point, and written in a formal tone. Make sure that any statements or opinions are attributed to a credible source that you’ve vetted.
Reread your first draft aloud. In addition to looking for obvious typos or grammar mistakes , listen for awkward transitions and jarring tense or perspective shifts. Also, consider whether your first draft successfully conveys the purpose of your news story.
Rework your writing as needed and repeat this step. Don’t forget to proofread your work.
Strong news stories are built on facts. If any statement or information is shaky or unsupported, the entire work is compromised. Before publishing a news article, double-check that all the information you’ve gathered from the beginning is accurate, and validate the information that your interview sources provided, too.
How to write a news article FAQs
What is a news article .
A news article informs readers within a community of current events that are relevant to them. It typically revolves around a topic of interest within a publication’s readership, whether the information is about local, national, or international events.
News articles are structured like an inverted pyramid. The most important or crucial information is always presented to the reader up front, followed by additional story details. A news article concludes with less important supporting information or a summation of the reporting.
The general rules for writing a news article involve accuracy and integrity. Report on the details of a story in a factual, unbiased, and straightforward way. When writing a news article, do not editorialize or sensationalize the information, and keep your content free of your opinion.
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How to Write a Newspaper Article
Last Updated: March 16, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 323,793 times.
A newspaper article should provide an objective, factual account of an event, person, or place. Most newspaper articles are read quickly or skimmed by the reader, so the most important information should always appear first, followed by descriptive content that rounds out the story. By conducting research and following the correct organizational structure, you can create an informative newspaper article in no time.
Conducting Interviews and Research
- Your sources should be experts in the field your article is focusing on, such as a certified professional, a professor, or an academic. You can use sources that have extensive experience or background in a field that relates to your article.
- Sources like a witness to an event can also be useful, especially if they have first-hand experience of the topic you are covering.
- You may need to conduct more than 1 interview with your sources, especially if they are a major source for the article. You can also send follow-up questions to your sources as needed.
- You will need to transcribe your interviews by typing them up to ensure you quote your sources correctly. Having transcriptions will also make fact checking your article and backing up your sources much easier.
- Make sure you cite the information properly in your article by noting the name or organization that provided the information. You should have credible sources to back up any claims or arguments made in the article.
- If you are writing the newspaper article for an editor, they may require you to provide a list of your sources for the article to show you have fact checked your work.
Structuring the Article
- For example, you may create a headline like, “Teen Girl Missing in Okotoks” or “Congress Stalls on Family Planning Bill.”
- In some cases, it may be easier to save the headline for last, after you have written the article, so you know what the focus of the article is and can sum it up clearly.
- For example, you may write a lead like, "An outbreak of flu in San Francisco has led to 3 elementary school closings this week, according to school officials." Or, "A missing girl originally from Okotoks was found Monday in an abandoned cabin in the Minnetonka area, according to local police."
- For example, you may write, “10-12 students have been diagnosed with the flu and health officials fear it could continue to spread if it is not contained.”
- For example, you may write, “The teen girl was reported missing on Friday afternoon by her mother after she did not come home from a study date at a friend’s house. She is the second girl to be reported missing in the past 2 weeks from the Okotoks area.”
- For example, you may write, “‘The girl is shaken, but does not appear to have any serious injuries,’ stated local Police Chief Wilborn.” Or you may write, “According to a statement by school officials, ‘The shutdown will prevent the flu from spreading further and ensure the safety of our students.’”
- Avoid using long quotes or more than 4 quotes in the article, as the reader may get confused or lost if there are too many quotations.
- For example, you may write, “The girl’s mother expressed relief for her daughter and concern about her community, noting, ‘I just hope no other girls go missing in this area.’”
- Or you may write, “Local health officials are urging parents to check the municipal health and wellness website, www.hw.org, for updates on when schools are able to reopen.”
Creating the Appropriate Voice and Tone
- For example, rather than write, “The missing girl’s mother thought it had to do with school,” you may write, “The missing girl’s mother thought bullying at school may have caused her daughter’s absences.”
- For example, rather than write, “A press conference will be held by local police tomorrow to address the missing girls and the public’s concerns,” you may write, “Local police will address the missing girls and the public’s concerns in a press conference tomorrow.”
- For example, if you're writing about two political candidates running against each other in an election, present both candidates in an equal light, rather than giving extra details about 1 candidate.
- If you're writing an op-ed piece, it's okay to mix some of your opinions with the facts.
Polishing the Article
- Reading the article aloud can also help you catch any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.
- For example, you may ask others questions like, “Were you able to understand what happened, based on the information in the article?” “Was the language clear and easy to follow?” “Was the article well supported with sources and quotes?”
- If you are writing the newspaper article for a class, make sure it falls within the prescribed word limit for the assignment.
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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about writing as a career, check out our in-depth interview with Gerald Posner .
- ↑ https://guides.lib.vt.edu/researchmethods/interviews
- ↑ https://www.csus.edu/indiv/o/obriene/art116/readings/guide%20for%20conducting%20interviews.pdf
- ↑ https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2013/01/22/part-4-what-people-want-from-their-libraries/
- ↑ https://settlement.org/ontario/daily-life/communication/ethnic-and-cultural-media/what-is-fake-news-and-how-to-stop-spreading-misinformation/
- ↑ https://www.viasport.ca/communications-toolkit/module-4-how-write-engaging-sports-article
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/journalism_and_journalistic_writing/writing_leads.html
- ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/05/
- ↑ https://www.lib.sfu.ca/about/branches-depts/slc/writing/sources/quoting
- ↑ https://lib.trinity.edu/in-text-citation-and-notes//
- ↑ https://www.csus.edu/campus-safety/police-department/_internal/_documents/rwm.pdf
- ↑ https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf
About This Article
To write a newspaper article, gather all of your sources and verify any facts or sources you plan to use. Write an opening sentence that tells the readers the most essential details of the story. Write in third person, active voice, and maintain an authoritative tone throughout the article. Keep in mind the questions “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” and “How” when you’re writing your story, and try to answer as many of them as you can. When you’re finished writing the article, craft a short, engaging headline that tells readers what the article is about. To learn how reading your article out loud can help you proofread it, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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A Reporter Explains His Approach to Writing News and Features
Brooks Barnes, a correspondent who covers Hollywood for The Times, explains how his writing process changes depending on the type of article he is working on.
By Sarah Bahr
Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.
Brooks Barnes’s head is constantly on a swivel.
As a domestic correspondent covering Hollywood’s leading celebrities, companies and executives for The New York Times, he writes both daily news articles about media companies and long-lead features about subjects such as Walt Disney World’s animatronic robot crew and the Polo Lounge , a Hollywood hot spot that attracts the who’s who of the film industry.
Those two types of articles — news and features — are the yin and yang of journalism. As the name suggests, news articles provide readers with new information about important events, often as they unfold. They can cover nearly any topic, are generally 500 to 1,000 words long and are packed with the need-to-know facts of a given situation. Features, which need not be tied to a specific event, dive deep into a particular topic or person, are usually longer than news articles and often offer more comprehensive context about their subjects.
Every day, The Times publishes both. While many journalists specialize in writing news or feature articles, Mr. Barnes flips between the two.
“I have eight to 10 features on the assembly line at any given time,” Mr. Barnes said, adding that he often has to drop what he’s working on to chase the news and that he focuses on writing features when the news is slow. Generally, he can finish a news article in a couple of hours or less; a major feature can take upward of six months.
For Mr. Barnes, the main difference between a news article and a feature isn’t the word count, the number of interviews involved or how long he spends drafting it: “The writing process changes,” he says.
A news article is all about gathering the essential information and publishing quickly.
He begins working on a news article by making calls to sources, often contacts he has built up over more than 20 years of reporting. He says he jots down his most important questions before he calls a source, even if he’s on a deadline and knows the conversation will only last a few minutes.
For a feature, Mr. Barnes said he will do around 10 interviews, not all of which may appear in the final article. If he’s writing a profile, he aims to spend a few hours with his subject on a Friday or Saturday, when the person is more relaxed and available.
As with news articles, he writes out his interview questions in advance, though he tries not to do too much research before meeting a profile subject for the first time so that he won’t come into the interview with a preconceived idea of what the subject might say.
“You want to report, not interview your thumb,” he said.
Getting Down to Writing
Mr. Barnes never outlines his news or feature articles, but instead works off his notes, which he’ll consult as he’s writing.
He gathers all of his notes from his interviews and research, both typed and handwritten, and inputs the best quotes, facts and figures into a Microsoft Word document. Unlike a news article, a feature may involve several attempts at a compelling first few sentences — known as the lede — and lots of rewriting. “I’ve been known to fixate on a lede for much longer than I should,” he said.
Structurally, a news article is much more straightforward than a feature: In a news article, the most important and timely information appears in the first few sentences, with the remaining facts generally provided in descending order of importance. In a feature, by contrast, the writer often delays the revelation of certain details in order to build suspense.
Landing on the Voice
Another difference, Mr. Barnes said, is the voice that he interjects — or doesn’t — into an article. A news article is usually devoid of personal flavor, while a feature can be saturated with it. He says he sometimes tries to “self-censor” his voice in a news article. In a feature, there is room for more lyrical description; Mr. Barnes is able to dwell on how a subject dresses, talks and reacts to his questions.
Working on Edits
The editing process also differs. With features, it can involve lots of fine-tuning: Ledes may be thrown out and paragraphs rewritten. With a news article, an editor acts more like a safety net than a pruner or a polisher, ensuring that reporters on deadline aren’t overlooking important information or relevant questions, and that they aren’t committing any obvious factual errors.
Enjoying Both Forms
The greatest challenge in writing a news article, in Mr. Barnes’s opinion, is achieving both speed and accuracy on deadline. Features present a different conundrum: A writer must carefully condense hours of interviews and research into a gripping-yet-accurate narrative that doesn’t get bogged down with superfluous information.
Though Mr. Barnes says he enjoys both forms, he’s always had a clear preference.
“I’m a feature writer who’s somehow managed not to get fired as a business reporter for 20 years,” he said.
He added: “I like luxuriating over words and trying different stuff. I could tinker with a story forever.”