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“There is no denying that [journalism] does not only inform people but also helps people shape opinions regarding various socio-political scenarios.”
Depending on the publication a newspaper article will be written about local, national or international current affairs/events.
Introduction to Newspaper Articles
There are many types of newspapers, from school/university publications to large news outlets like the Daily Mail, or Guardian. Local papers will focus more on events in and around the community, for example they may cover community fates or markets. They’ll also have stories about local people. They will still be written in a professional and formal way but may have a more conversational tone.
Unlike local papers, national publications will focus more on events that effect the wider populous. They will also report on noteworthy international events, such as crises and wars, but also sporting and entertainment events like the Olympics. They advertise to a much wider audience than local papers and need to relate to most of the population.
Purpose of a Newspaper Article
News articles are written to inform and educate readers on current affairs/events. They are used to provide readers with information they need/want to know about the world around them. You will either be told what to write your article on or have a choice of topics related to the module this assessment is for.
Newspaper articles give as much information as possible at the time of publication; if a journalist writes about an ongoing case there may be limited information available, so they might interview people related to the case, or try find background information to help inform readers more.
News articles are written on a whole range of topics due to the large target audiences of newspapers. Most papers will have several sections ranging from current national and international affairs to sports and celebrity news. There are some papers, however which solely focus on a specific topic, therefore have a smaller target audience.
Be sure of your topic and potential target audience.
Example: there are sporting papers which mainly report on sporting events and news. Whereas some others focus on business and economic current affairs.
The Reliability Spectrum
Normally when writing a public communication piece you want to be looking at examples to get a feel for their tone. However, with newspapers there is also a need to think about the range of reliability that they represent.
When thinking about the press, we could look at it as a spectrum on the basis of reliability due to the variety of articles and news outlets.
If you are writing to inform, aim for your work to be on the objective end of the spectrum where you stay impartial, leaving personal opinions out of your work. Whereas, if you are writing to persuade or analyse consider moving down the spectrum. Here we find the likes of Letters to the Editor and Opinion Pieces; work that is critical and has more focus on the writer's opinions.
When writing any form of article ensure that you are not creating fake news (false or misleading information presented as news). Use reliable sources and cite all references to keep your work credible, think of this as any other assessment. You will lose marks for not using and citing references correctly. Use our Referencing Guide to ensure you use the correct referencing system.
The reliability spectrum can be highly influenced by politics and the political view points of journalists, editors and sometimes owners of publications which will determine the tone of their articles. Your assessment brief will determine where your work sits on the spectrum, depending on whether you've been asked to inform, educate or persuade.
Example: If you've been asked to persuade you may state your opinion, but ensure these are informed opinions that are backed up.
There are many similarities between magazine and newspaper articles, therefore you need to know how to differentiate between the two. This will ensure you write an authentic newspaper article.
These are the differences and similarities between newspaper and magazine articles.
Newspaper articles will:
Inform and educate readers about current events whilst being unbiased.
Be written using formal and professional language (local papers can be conversational).
Have a single subheading/kicker paragraph at the beginning.
Use little visual illustrations. They may use one or two images related to the story.
Have a wider audience, unless they are on niche topics (sports, business).
Magazine and newspaper articles will:
Be timely and about current events.
Have a similar structure (columned, kicker paragraphs and quotes).
Start with important information to grip readers making them more likely to continue reading.
Use supporting evidence and references to help make your writing credible.
Use sensitive and purposeful language. Our Language section has guidance on the use of language in public communications.
The inverted pyramid structure (see right) is used by journalists to write effective articles. You want to give your readers as much information as possible whilst also keeping their attention. Follow this structure as well as the anatomy below to write a successful newspaper article.
The Anatomy of a Newspaper Article
A gripping title that will entice readers. Can use alliteration for emphasis and effect.
Your (the author’s) name and the date of publication/it is submitted.
Like a kicker paragraph this will further entice the readers, as well as giving some insight into the story.
News Writing Inverted Pyramid
In your first paragraph or two you want to give the most important information (who, what, when, where, why, how?). You are constantly wanting to entice your readers to continue reading.
Body of text
After you’ve summarised the main points of the article the rest of your text is for any further information which will be in order of importance. Here you will also want to include any supporting evidence and references, quotations and/or statements from people relevant to the story.
Images and visuals
Usually there will be little images in a newspaper article. There will be a large image supporting the headline and then maybe one or two others that are relevant to the text.
This will round off the article nicely either with a conclusion, quote or statement. You could use a circular structure, therefore relating back to the original point of the article.
Video: a visual representation of what to include in and how to structure a newspaper article.
An online article differs from a printed one in design. Ask your lecturer how they want you to design it, if it’s an online article it will be a single column whereas one for print will be several columns.
Don't use slang and colloquialisms unless they are in quotes.
Don't write about irrelevant topics that are no longer an interest to readers.
Don't submit an article without references, this will make your work less credible.
Don't format your article incorrectly. Make sure it is suited for the publication/assessment brief.