A news story on water is a short, accurate report about an event, that is linked to water management, weather conditions, business or political or social developments. The following factsheet provides you with guidance on the format and key questions that should be answered through the content of news stories.
News stories make up most space in many newspapers. Beyond print media, news stories can also be found on the radio, TV and online platforms. Its main function is to inform. A news story does not contain the writer’s opinion.
The key qualities of a news story are: accuracy, brevity, clarity.
A news story is usually between 200 and 500 words long. The most important information about the event is found at the top of the story. Further significant information then follows in as logical a sequence as possible. The least important information is found at the bottom of the story. Should the story need to be shortened, it can easily be cut from the bottom without the loss of vital information.
A complete news story contains answers to the five ‘W’s and one ‘H’:
Not all the answers may be available from the same place, at the same time. But if the five ‘W’s cannot be answered, then the news story is incomplete.
- The terms used are as objective and accurate as possible.
- The story is made up of shorter sentences and uses shorter words where possible.
- The story avoids being overly descriptive or complex.
- The story avoids foreign words and abbreviations.
- Is the news in the story up-to-date? Does it tell the reader something new?
- Is the most important, new information at the beginning of the story? Would the reader get the most important facts from the first few sentences?
- Does the story answer the five ‘W’s and one ‘H’?
- Could the reader understand what was going on, without having to read any other stories or articles?
- Does the story inform the reader as to who all the people in the story are and what their relevance is? Have all abbreviations been explained? Have locations been put into context?
- Is the story accurate and neutral?
- Does the story contain too many irrelevant details?
- Is the story too long?
When basic questions about journalism come up, this handbook, written and produced by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT), provides clear, brief and precise answers. Shortcuts to Journalism isn’t just for journalists – it’s also helpful for non-journalists. Download the English version here or the Arabic version here.Schmidt, E., Tirok, M. and Bösch, M. (2016): Shortcuts to Journalism: The Basics of Print, Online and Broadcast Reporting. Berlin, Germany: Media in Cooperation and Transition gGmbH PDF
A news story is not complete if the five W`s and one H are not answered. This article explains why they are important.