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Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
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What is a Newspaper Article?

A newspaper is a printed publication of news, articles, advertisements, and other correspondence. Newspapers are typically printed and published at regular intervals, like daily or weekly. They can be a physical printed documents or readily available online.

The purpose of newspapers is to release important news or information to the public as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The people who write this information are called journalists. These individuals produce news stories using investigative reporting and excellent editing and newspaper writing skills. These stories are then presented to the public in the form of a newspaper.

Newspaper Article Format

There are five main components of newspaper articles. The following is the correct newspaper article format:

  • Headline – a short statement about the event of the newspaper. A headline grasps the attention of the audience so that they want to continue reading the article.
  • Byline – tells who wrote the article.
  • Lead/Lede paragraph – contains the most essential information that the journalist had to research to find. This section answers Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?
  • Explanation – includes all other information the audience may want to know about the headline. The journalist must decide what else the audience will want/need to know within the article and do more research to include this information. This section may also include witness interviews and other direct quotes from people involved in the event being written about.
  • Additional Information – any nonessential information regarding a similar event. The additional information is the least important in the article, is not required, and is sometimes removed if the article is longer than the space provided.

Note that a newspaper article does not contain a topic sentence or closing sentence like in an essay.

How to Write a Newspaper Article

Newspaper writing may seem like a daunting task, but following these steps will help a writer format and organize the information in a successful way.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

When deciding to write a newspaper article, consider what story an audience would want to read. This should be a newsworthy story that is relevant, timely, and significant.

Relevant – Consider the location of the audience. For example, if the audience is a large city like New York City, a story about a small town event in Utah would not be relevant. Consider what the audience would find newsworthy and important to their lives.

Timely – The story should focus on something that happened in the recent past, happening presently, or happening in the near future.

Significant – Consider what information will be important to the majority of the audience. Noting the example above, would someone living in New York City find it important to know about an event in Utah? Likely, no. The story needs to be significant to achieve readers.

Step 2: Researching and Collecting Sources

Consider where to can find the most accurate information for the topic; this will require research and finding credible sources and how to contact those sources. This requires in-depth research and homework.

Once interviews are scheduled, the next step is to prepare questions to ask these sources. Think of the goal and message that is being sent to the audience.

Step 3: Outlining the Structure

The next step is outlining the information gleaned from the sources. Writers should consider what the point of the story is going to be, which should give a rough idea of the lead/lede. This rough idea is just a starting point and may be altered in the final version. The writer should make a written outline for plans or create a working document for the outline. The first draft will follow this plan, but of course, it can and likely will be altered multiple times before the final draft is ready for publication.

Step 4: Writing the Main Lead Paragraph

A strong lead is essential to the success of an article. When thinking of how to start a newspaper article, know that the first paragraph is where the most important information needs to be addressed. Most readers are going to simply skim that lead paragraph to see if it is something they would like to continue reading, so the lead paragraph should cover the Who, What, When, and Where of the story (note: save the Why and How for later). In reality, a writer only have a few sentences to hook the reader.

Step 5: Fill in Additional Information

A strong lead paragraph will set up the remainder of information to include. Expand beyond the lead to tell the audience the Why and How of the story. The writer should provide in-depth coverage of the most important details about the story. This will include additional background and contextual information along with information gained from interviews.

Incorporating Supporting Quotations

Adding direct quotations from credible sources will enhance the credibility for the article. This adds reputable value to the author and the author’s organization. The process of adding quotes is up to the discretion and preference of the writer: some choose to add them while writing the article, others choose to add them once the article is written and they can see where the quotes best support their information.

Regardless of how they are added, quotes should be brief and informative. There should not be chunks of block quotes. Writers should choose portions of the interview that best support the information they are presenting to the audience. The point of quotes is to ensure the audience that the information being presented is credible and can be backed up.

Examples of Newspaper Writing

To know how to write a newspaper article, it helps to see examples of short newspaper articles. Below is an example of a well written one that follows the correct format.

Two years into the pandemic, Yale’s ‘happiness’ course is more popular than ever

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 8:15 AM ET, Sun March 20, 2022

(CNN) When Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos witnessed the severity of the depression, anxiety and stress her students were facing, she decided to do something about it.

Her “happiness” course — which she began teaching live in 2018 — became Yale’s most popular class in over 300 years, according to the university. But when the coronavirus pandemic struck, claiming millions of lives around the world and shutting down life as we know it, her class became more important than ever.

“People were getting great evidence-based advice about how to protect their physical health — mask up, socially distance, get a vaccine — but people were struggling with what to do to protect their mental health,” Santos told CNN.

In April 2019, Santos had 22,522 new enrollments. But in April 2020, as the pandemic started to take off, the class saw 860,494 new enrollments — and it only continued to skyrocket. So far, more than 3.7 million people have enrolled in the class, which is available for free online through Coursera and is also being taught in person for the second time this semester.

The course went online for free about two years ago under the name “The Science of Well Being,” according to the Yale Daily News. Anyone can audit the course for free, and $49 lets you complete assignments, submit them for a grade and earn a certificate of completion.

Santos’ class focuses on understanding and letting go of all the superficial notions of happiness, such as the idea that a better job, fancier house, or a new relationship is the next step closer to happiness.

“All of us want to be happier,” Santos said. “The problem is that we have a lot of misconceptions about what really will make us happy. We think we need to change our circumstances in major ways, but often simply behavioral and mindset changes can make a big difference in our sense of well-being.”

Some of the professor’s “happiness” assignments include deleting social media accounts, daily meditation, keeping a gratitude journal, and investing time in loved ones.

Students also receive a series of homework “rewirements,” or practices aimed at helping students develop better habits, according to Santos. These include making more time for exercise and sleep, engaging in more social connection and random acts of kindness, taking time to savor and experience more gratitude, and mindfulness.

“I’ve personally become a lot happier as a result of teaching the class,” Santos said. “It’s given me a lot more meaning and purpose, but it also means I need to practice what I preach and make sure I’m putting in the time to focus on my own well-being.”

An intervention study written by Santos and four other researchers analyzing the impact of her class concluded taking the class allows people to show a significant improvement on a standard happiness scale, exhibiting about a one-point increase on the 10-point scale.

“The present study demonstrated that well-being can be enhanced by taking a large-scale, free, online course,” the study reads. “These results suggest that individuals who are exposed to academic content on the science of well-being and who engage in evidence-based practices can indeed increase their subjective well-being.”

The study also showed how free, online classes can “impact mental health at large scales, and thus could become an important tool for public health initiatives aimed at improving population-wide mental health outcomes.”

CNN’s Ryan Prior contributed to this report.

Lesson Summary

A newspaper is a printed publication of news, articles, advertisements, and other correspondence. Their purpose is to release important news or information to the public as quickly and as efficiently as possible. A newspaper writer, known as a journalist begins by considering the five components of an article:

  1. Headline – a short statement about the event of the newspaper.
  2. Byline – tells who wrote the article.
  3. Lead/Lede paragraph – contains the most essential information.
  4. Explanation – includes all other information the audience may want to know
  5. Additional Information – any nonessential information regarding a similar event.

Journalists write articles by breaking down the process into steps: choosing a topic, researching sources, outlining the structure, writing the lead paragraph, and filling in information. The article should cover the following questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?

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