Inverted Pyramid Journalism: How to Write News Articles

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  • Slide 1
  • Inverted Pyramid Journalism: How to Write News Articles
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  • What is the Inverted Pyramid? The structure of writing used in journalism that describes how news information should be delivered to the reader Readers want to know what happened, but dont have time to read entire article so you give the most important or interesting details first and less important info dribbles down into body of article
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  • Example #1 SISTER AND BROTHER KILLED WHEN BUS, SNOWPLOW CRASH ALBIN, WYOMING A snowplow slammed into a school bus on an icy road Wednesday, killing two siblings and injuring their older brother and two other people. The crash occurred just before 8 a.m. about eight miles north of the ranching community of Albin, according to Wyoming State Patrol trooper Perry Jones. The bus had made only one stop before the crash. An 11-year-old girl died at the scene and her 8-year-old brother died later at a hospital, authorities said. Their 18-year-old brother suffered minor injuries. The bus driver was in serious condition with chest and abdominal injuries, and the plow driver was treated for minor injuries and released. The K-12 school the children and the teenager attend canceled classes at midday. Writing in this story is simple and direct. Note attribution of information in second and third paragraphs. Story is not written in a narrative form. It doesnt begin at the beginning and end at the end. Rather it presents information in order of its importance. Note the short sentences and short paragraphs.
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  • Example #2 TEENS SENTENCED AFTER PLOTTING GUN ATTACK ON SCHOOL CLEVELAND, OHIO Two teenagers have been sentenced to a minimum of a year in custody for plotting an attack at their high school. The two boys, 15 and 16, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder at South High School. They still could be held until age 21, the maximum penalty under juvenile law, but under the sentence pronounced Tuesday, the state Department of Youth Services has the discretion to release them after a year. The plot was discovered when a student told school officials a group of teenagers planned to open fire on Oct. 29, homecoming day. Two other students have pleaded guilty to inducing panic. One received a minimum six-month sentence. Sentencing for the other was delayed pending completion of a background report. Inverted pyramid, rather than narrative style observed. One possible flaw in this story is that the second sentence of the second paragraph is very long. How would you shorten it? This story lacks direct attribution because the reporter was on the scene to observe the events. Why does the story not give the names of the boys?
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  • TIPS FOR WRITING THE LEAD
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  • Tips. The Five Ws and H: Before writing a lead, decide which aspect of the story who, what, when, where, why, how is most important. You should emphasize those aspects in your lead. Wait to explain less important aspects until the second or third sentence. Conflict: Good stories have conflict. So do many good leads. Specificity: Though you are essentially summarizing information in most leads, try to be specific as possible. If your lead is too broad, it wont be informative or interesting. Brevity: Readers want to know why the story matters to them and they wont wait long for the answer. Leads are often one sentence, sometimes two. Generally, they are 25 to 30 words and should rarely be more than 40. This is somewhat arbitrary, but its important especially for young journalists to learn how to deliver information concisely. Active sentences: Strong verbs will make your lead lively and interesting. Passive constructions, on the other hand, can sound dull and leave out important information, such as the person or thing that caused the action. Incomplete reporting is often a source of passive leads.passive leads Audience and context: Take into account what your reader already knows. Remember that in todays media culture, most readers become aware of breaking news as it happens. If youre writing for a print publication the next day, your lead should do more than merely regurgitate yesterdays news. Honesty: A lead is an implicit promise to your readers. You must be able to deliver what you promise in your lead.
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  • Types of Leads (see your handout) Summary Lead -tells the basics of Big 6 Anecdotal Lead- useful in features; use one persons story as a leading example for the story Direct Address Lead- Using you to directly address reader Descriptive Lead- descriptive/ uses images Quotation Lead- start with a quote Question Lead- raise a question of your reader Humor Lead- play on words, joke, etc Contrast Lead- show an event/person by telling what its not Delayed Lead- create suspense with a delay Big Idea Lead- the goal of your story Examples: http://mycom.net/pdf_MyCom/en-US/MyMedia/Leads.pdfhttp://mycom.net/pdf_MyCom/en-US/MyMedia/Leads.pdf
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  • INTEGRATING QUOTES (FROM YOUR INTERVIEWS)
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  • You can QUOTE me on that Quotes make a story more believable; they are evidence that can support your topic.
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  • Direct Quotes Quotes printed word for word exactly as the author wrote them are direct quotes. These words appear inside quotation marks. The attribution word appears outside the quotation marks. The attribution is the phrase that tells who said it - where you got the information.
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  • Examples of Direct Quotes I am thrilled to be representing the great State of Texas at the Free Spirit Conference, Joe Mama, newspaper adviser said. I owe it all to my talented students. I am thrilled to be representing the great State of Texas at the Free Spirit Conference, Joe Mama, newspaper adviser said. I owe it all to my talented students. Im just glad I didnt have to spend any more time with my adviser than I did, Casey Deeya said. Im just glad I didnt have to spend any more time with my adviser than I did, Casey Deeya said.
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  • Indirect Quotes Information from a source which is not made up of the authors exact words is not placed inside quotation marks. This is an indirect quote, which is a paraphrase or a summary of the meaning of the direct quotation. Indirect quotes are used to: Express a fact stated by the source Express a fact stated by the source Clarify a quote that is too long, confusing or dull Clarify a quote that is too long, confusing or dull Condense the ideas of several direct quotes Condense the ideas of several direct quotes
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  • Partial Quotes Sometimes it might work better to use a portion of a quote to convey the information than to use an entire quote. To do this, put only the quoted words inside quotation marks. Use partial quotes when you need to use a speakers exact words but the entire direct quote might be too long or too confusing for the reader.
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  • Example of a Partial Quote In his novel, Styles at LCC, author Harry Skaulp states that spiked hair is a part of our cultural heritage, not merely a symbol of rebellion, adding that he thinks nose piercing should be mandatory.
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  • Punctuating Quotations The authors exact words go inside the quotation marks: I am super, duper cool. The authors exact words go inside the quotation marks: I am super, duper cool. The end punctuation (period, question mark, exclamation point) goes inside the last quotation mark. Give me the damn money! The end punctuation (period, question mark, exclamation point) goes inside the last quotation mark. Give me the damn money! When the attribution comes after a direct quote, use a comma to separate the quote from the attribution. Here it is, replied Bob. When the attribution comes after a direct quote, use a comma to separate the quote from the attribution. Here it is, replied Bob. If a question mark relates to the sentence and not the quote, place it at the end of the sentence outside the quotation marks: What kind of moron says, I am super, duper cool? If a question mark relates to the sentence and not the quote, place it at the end of the sentence outside the quotation marks: What kind of moron says, I am super, duper cool?
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  • Punctuating Quotations Use single quotation marks to indicate a quote inside a quote. And so I told her, Fix your own tire, Grandma! Use single quotation marks to indicate a quote inside a quote. And so I told her, Fix your own tire, Grandma! Leave off the closing quotation marks at the end of a paragraph if the quote continues in the next paragraph. Leave off the closing quotation marks at the end of a paragraph if the quote continues in the next paragraph. If a quote is a complete sentence, begin it with a capital letter. If its not, dont. If a quote is a complete sentence, begin it with a capital letter. If its not, dont.
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  • Punctuating Quotations Use quotation marks to indicate the title of a smaller work, such as an article, essay, short story, song, poem, or speech. Use quotation marks to indicate the title of a smaller work, such as an article, essay, short story, song, poem, or speech. In his essay, Potatoes are Yummy, Joe Smith argues that Use italics (or underline) for larger works such as a book, magazine, album, play, film, or long poem. Use italics (or underline) for larger works such as a book, magazine, album, play, film, or long poem. In her novel, Potatoes are Yucky, Ann Smith argues that
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  • Integrating Quotations