Most people today will not believe the fact that there are some certain rules that one has to abide to as a Journalist. They tend to believe that mass communication students have no rules in their field, it is just to write news and submit then it comes out.
Journalist practitioners worldwide and the students studying it as a course have learnt the techniques in writing; they don’t just pick up a pen and start writing, they write with a technique of captivating the minds of billions of people which is amazing in such aspect.
As a journalist or a student studying it as a course we have the model/style in news writing which is also known as the inverted pyramid which has the following:
1. The Lead: This is the most important part of a news story, and it is also the important part of a news story because it has to deal with at least 3H in the write-up.
2. The Body: It is also another part of the story that is also important, but it builds also on the lead.
3. The Tail: This part of the story is least important, it is also known as the concluding part of a story.
The News Copy
News report is been noted as a raw stage of writing, before it is been edited by an Editor. It is a hand written or typed document, housing the news report or story written by the reporter or journalist on any area of a particular beat or assignment. Then will such document be passed to the sub-editor who will make necessary corrections before he goes to the press.
Content Of A News Copy
Slug: the slug sometimes referred to as the slug-line/catch-line is a short phrase or title used to indicate the story content of a newspaper or magazine copy. It consist of the following – Byline (Reporter’s name), Dateline/Place-line (usually a word or two to identify the story) and Date
Lead: the lead (pronounced as “LEED”) is simply the opening/first paragraph of a news story and the most important element of a news report. The lead answers the following questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How? (5W & H).
Body: This is the main content of the story or news report. It builds more on the lead. It can also be referred to as the article body. In here you will present supporting details, evidences and quotes from people who are involved in the same situation.
Conclusion: This part of a news copy is usually identified with these following end marks or signs – “#”, “end”, or “-30-“, “***”. A reporter chooses one of these end marks to show that a news report has ended.
Rules Guiding A Good News Report
- Do not pass a verdict or make a judgment.
- Avoid the use of unfamiliar jargon.
- Keep yourself and other reporters out of your story (unless they are essential part of the news).
- Guard against publication of libelous statement.
- Always use simple words.
- All news copies must be typed written and double spaced (for editing purposes).
- The first page should carry the reporter’s surname, a slug-line and date in the top left hand corner. Slug-line must be short preferably one word.
- Each page must be numbered or lettered.
- Always make your lead interesting and guard against misleading leads. A lead sells a story.
- Use the inverted pyramid format when writing a news story.
- Use quote accurately.
- Use “Said” if you want to write in the present tense and “Said that” if it reported speech. This style helps the copy retain currency and life.
- Always read your copy carefully and correct all typographical spelling and grammatical mistakes before turning it on.
- Your copy must be submitted in duplicate and both copies must be properly edited.
- Never underline words or phrases or titles of books in your copy.
- As a seasoned reporter, do not exaggerate, do not over dramatize, beware of adjective, use the active voice and use natural conversational method when you write.