Categorized | BuzzBox, WriteBox

Writing For Newspapers

Posted on 13 February 2015 by Garima Chak

A newspaper, by the lay-man’s definition of the term is any piece of writing which tells us about the day-to-day happenings and events taking place in a very limited present. So a newspaper basically is a documentation of the news, written in an interesting manner. Therefore writing for newspapers is writing news for the general public.

This brings us to the definition of news. There is no definition of news which can satisfy everyone. The perception of news differs from person to person, time to time and place to place as what’s news in US & UK may not be news in India and vice versa. One essential feature of any news is that it is ‘new’.

Writing for the Indian newspaper has its own characteristics. For the Indian newspapers still suffer colonial hangover. Which implies is that the main news is about the government and those in power. So in the Indian scenario certain events that form an integral part of newspaper writing are reports of speeches at public meetings, legislative assemblies, government announcements, appointments & notices etc.

However news writing can be writing about anything out of the ordinary. Anything that has the potential to interest the readers has the potential of becoming the news for the next day’s newspaper. So basically news is what the journalist makes it.

Certain things to be kept in mind while writing for a newspaper are:

1. Timeliness – Readers always want to be kept up-to-date. That is why in most stories about events you will find the “when” element in the lead sentence. This makes the reader feel he’s witnessing the event live. After all nobody wants to read a stale newspaper, even if it’s only one day old!

2. Proximity – this is the “where” element of news. This is almost always a part of the lead sentence of an event-based story so the audience knows whether the event is local, national or international. It excites the reader’s imagination, giving the event a visual feel.

3. Prominence – this is about keeping readers always informed and up-to-date about important people, places and events. We as readers like to read about those we look upto. It helps us establish a connect with them.

4. Currency/ Drama – What’s hot makes news. This can range from a social activist sitting on ‘’dharna’’, or a well known celebrity supporting a cause to the unfolding of a terrorist trial, probe or a conflict between two big business houses, to the launch of a new car etc. The idea is to get in the reader’s eye-span. This is extremely important for public relations people who write press-releases etc. The publication of their article depends on whether they can get the reader’s attention. For the evet organizers the consequence needs to be kept in mind. For the greater an event’s effect on people, the more likely it will be reported!

5. Depth Coverage – it is concerned with providing detail and information of the broad phenomena. The difference between spot and depth coverage is that the one refers to brief, event-based stories and the other to ones that provide background information and an analysis of the happening.

6. Enterprise Coverage – Taking the initiative called “enterprise” in the news business. This can be important in both spot and depth coverage. Ultimately it needs to be kept in mind that news and truth is not the same thing. The function of news to signalize an event, whereas that of truth is to bring the hidden facts to light. In this sense news can be compared to a beam of a searchlight. Its function is to search below the surface of the iceberg, find the news, develop it, interpret it and present it in an enterprising manner.

7. Actualities & Talking Points—Actualities are natural calamities, accidents, crime, strikes, political happenings, whereas talking points are what people are talking about.

8. Who decides the news-The journalist or the public— Ultimately news is made by those who discover the answer. And those who do not fail to survive.

9. Importance of News– The reader clamors for news. Businesses and economies depend on news. That is what makes news so important. And because the journalist has to deliver to everyone, while everyone’s perception of news differs, different newspapers have varying nature of news as is seen in the way they handle the same story.

News may not be a synonym for the truth but the news that is reported is always completely true or it is at least a set of facts that has been presented to the reporter as the truth. What this means is that there might be more to the truth than is reported in the newspaper. And ultimately all newspaper writing is about presenting true facts that have been trimmed and shredded in order to make them interesting news.

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