Writing news articles
In this Web Skills module on writing news articles you will find out what news is, what is news worthy, learn how to structure a news story and how we can help you.
You can find lots of examples of good news articles on the main College News site.
What is news?
A good news story, with good news values has one or all of the following:
- Human Interest – this matters to someone I know.
- New – we didn’t know this before.
- Timely – why are you telling me now?
- Quirky or surprising – doesn’t happen all the time.
- Controversial - causes debate.
Things to remember
The five ‘W’s of a news story
All your news articles should include:
The inverse pyramid of news
Think about the structure of your story:
- Overall length of the article and page layout.
- Paragraph and sentence length.
- Plan your teaser and summary
- Constructing the story - what looks good, will you use; pull quotes, subheadings, the side bar content for background info, additional photos or multimedia, slideshows, and links?
Do's and don'ts
- Write your story in a word document first
- Quote an named person.
- Use pictures of something or someone.
- Use plain English.
- Stay active. Active - Dr Jones is using this equipment to study malaria. Passive - 'Malaria was studied using this equipment' or 'This equipment was used to study malaria'.
- Stay positive - say what you’re doing, not what you’re not doing!
- Link to external sites.
- Link to related Imperial stories.
- Go on too long.
- Use heavily detailed graphs and charts – keep it simple.
- Use jargon and abbreviations – or if you need to use them, explain what they mean.
- Too many adjectives. Avoid using brilliant, excellent, etc. Use the quotes and facts in your reported text to demonstrate to the reader what is excellent about it – let them reach their own conclusion.
What if it’s not very newsworthy?
This is a legitimate question and it is OK to turn things down, otherwise news writing becomes overwhelming.
Ask yourself the question - Does it meet one or more of the news values? If you don’t know, ask the person who brought you the news and If they don’t know, you can safely turn it down.
Some stories you just have to write, even though they’re not that newsworthy. So, instead, of writing a non-news story, make it more exciting?
Seek more facts, e.g. Is it an impressive amount of money? Has someone important announced it, or is connected to a project?
And if all else fail add an attractive picture or video!
The next section of this skills module covers best practice and tips around article content including punctuation, media mentions, date references and using social and multimedia.
2 column general block - uploading news/need more help
Need more help?
- Digital Image library (photos).
- iMedia library (audio and video).
- Add to social media .
- Get featured on the Homepage.
- Get featured on your Faculty theme page by contacting your Faculty Web Officer.
- Is it worth external media attention? Ask the Research Communications team.
- Find out how to upload your news story.