Journalism high School Newspaper Basics

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JOURNALISM High School Newspaper Basics

  • Newspaper Terms/Story Types,
  • The Inverted Pyramid,
  • Headlines,
  • Breaking News,
  • Editorials,
  • Features,
  • Sports Articles,
  • and Reviews

Newspaper Writing

  • Terms and Story Types

Newspaper Terms

  • Byline-Reporter’s name, appears at the top of a news story
  • Flag-Newspaper’s name as it appears on the top of the first page (aka-logotype)
  • Folio-Paper’s volume number, date, and price info on front of paper under Flag
  • Deadline-Time at which all copy for an edition must be turned in

Newspaper Terms (con’td)

  • Editor-Person who decides what stories will be covered, assigns reporters to stories, improves a reporter’s story, decides layout
  • Scoop-Story obtained before other papers get it
  • Cutline (aka caption)-Information under a piece of art or picture that explains it using the 5 W’s and H (who, what, when, where, why and how)

Newspaper Terms (con’td)

  • Beat-Area of news regularly covered by a reporter (ex. Sports beat)
  • Syndicate-Organization that distributes material to many different newspapers for their use
  • Jump-to continue a story from one page to another (line that tells which page the story is continued on is called the Jumpline)
  • Headline-Words in large type at top of story telling what story is about
  • Lead-Opening of a news story telling who, what, when, where, why, and how

Newspaper Terms (con’td)

  • Copy-All material used in publication
  • Inverted Pyramid- News story form where important facts are listed first (less important details follow)
  • Layout-To position copy on a page
  • Masthead-Printed names of publication’s publisher, editor, usually printed in a box on the editorial page
  • Ear-Copy on both corners of front page
  • Dateline-Beginning of a story that gives story’s place of origin

Types of News Stories

  • Hard News-Urgent news, usually of a serious nature, found on front page on newspaper, purely factual (aka-breaking news)
  • Feature-News story that is timely and entertaining and of interest to readers (human interest)
  • Editorial-Article expressing the opinion of editor or management (also come in form of cartoon)
  • Sports-Gives scores, facts, and opinions about major sporting events
  • Reviews-Gives summary and author’s opinions of book, movie, song, etc.

Writing the News

5W’s and H

  • The lead/beginning of all newspaper articles should answer the 5 W’s and H
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

Inverted Pyramid

  • News/Important-different from fiction-gives relevant info at beginning (5 W’s and H)
  • Important
  • Less Important
  • Less Important-
  • can be deleted
  • if necessary

Why Use the Inverted Pyramid?

  • Readers get necessary information given to them at the very beginning
  • In case a story needs to be shortened due to space limitations, editor/advisor can easily chop off the end of the story without worrying about losing the most important information

What Makes News?

  • Since newspapers are created to meet the needs of the community and school, it is important to know what to look for when deciding on article topics

Things to Consider When Deciding Story Topics

  • Prominence-How well known are the people involved in the story? If people are well known on a local or national level.
  • Proximity-Location-event happening close by is of more interest to readers
  • Timeliness-New, fresh stories hold reader’s interest
  • Oddity/Uniqueness-Something unusual usually gains reader’s curiosity-they want to know why it happened
  • Impact/Consequence-An event or decision that affects people’s lives is newsworthy-write about events that alter reader’s lives in some way so they know how they will be affected by decisions (i.e. construction projects in community, new dress code rule)

Things to Consider When Deciding Story Topics (Cont’d)

  • Human-Interest-Appeal to reader’s emotions
  • Conflict-Present a story that appeals to sense of curiosity about who will emerge the winner in a battle (story about war, an athletic competition, or election)
  • BRAINSTORM with a partner at least 5 article topic ideas that meet at least one of the above criteria.

Headline Do’s

  • Give general overall summary of the story
  • Remember that the headline may be the only reason the reader reads the story so make it stand out
  • Limit the number of words—generally 6-10 words
  • Use strong, active verbs-to-be verbs are generally understood, but not written out
  • Use present tense verbs
  • Express complete thoughts-headlines usually read like simple sentences
  • Substitute a comma for the word “and”
  • Capitalize only the first word and proper nouns and adjectives

Headline Don’ts

  • Don’t mislead reader about content by
  • exaggerating or sensationalizing
  • Don’t use the name of the school unless absolutely necessary
  • Don’t put a period at the end of the headline
  • Don’t use names, unless very well recognized. Use grades or positions instead
  • Don’t use abbreviations or slang
  • Don’t repeat words from other headlines in same section (common in sports section-beat, wins, loses, etc.)
  • Don’t use “a,” “an,” or “the”
  • Don’t use headlines that can have more than one meaning

Examples of Bad Headlines (can have more than one meaning)

  • Directions: Talk to your partner about what is meant and how the headline can be misinterpreted:
  • Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers
  • Safety experts say school bus passengers should be belted
  • Drunk gets nine months in violin case
  • Survivor of Siamese twins joins parents
  • Iraqi head seeks arms
  • Farmer Bill dies in house
  • Prostitutes appeal to Pope
  • Panda mating fails; Veterinarian takes over

Writing Breaking News Stories

  • AKA Hard News or Straight News


  • Call, visit secretaries, or go to classroom to set up appointments for interviewing
  • Know purpose of interview-what information are you really trying to get from the source
  • Research subject and source-have background material first
  • Bring pencils and steno notebook


  • Arrive on time, thank source for willingness to be interviewed
  • Build rapport with source-start with friendly greetings and casual conversation before getting down to business
  • Take notes-use abbreviations that you know you will remember when reviewing notes later-you will not be able to write every word of background info

Interviewing During (Cont’d)

  • Be sure to write every word of direct quotations
  • Look interested-get more info with encouraging statements as they talk
  • Conclude by reviewing notes, asking if source would like to add anything, check spellings of names, ask where they can be reached if you need more info, ask if they know of another source you should see about the subject


How to ask Interview Questions

  • Yes or No Questions are a NO-NO!
  • Instead ask open-ended questions - worded to encourage source to give opinion or expand on question
  • Ask follow-up questions-unplanned questions that you naturally ask after source answers a question but doesn’t give enough information-you ask them to get them to continue with explanation

Interview Question Practice

  • Practice changing these Yes/No questions to open-ended questions:
  • Do you have plans for the weekend?
  • Should the president be re-elected?
  • Do you plan to go on to college after graduation?
  • Do you like the new class scheduling system?

Subjective vs. Objective

  • Subjective-shows opinion
  • Article types that are subjective are ones that are persuasive in nature: Editorials, Advice Columns, and Reviews
  • Objective-shows fact-author’s opinion is not detected, language does not show how author feels about subject
  • Article types that are objective in nature are: Breaking News, Sports
  • Article types like Features are a combination of the two because they give about an equal mix of both subjective and objective statements

Subjective Vs. Objective Practice

Using Sources in Article-Writing Quotations

  • Quotations-exact words spoken by a source, placed in quotation marks-”example”-must include name of source along with quote
  • Purpose of quotes-provide description, pull reader deeper into story, capture feelings/emotions of person involved in story and the reader, allow reporter to remain objective (factual) while still letting readers know what the sources think
  • When to quote-If the information is general knowledge, don’t quote it. Ex. You are writing a story about the eighth season of American Idol. You speak to a representative for the show and she tells you the show airs on Tuesday nights at 8. Don’t quote. However, if the information is subjective (opinion), you quote it. Ex. The representative says she has not yet seen talent that compares to Kelly, Fantasia, or David Cook. Quote it, it is the opinion of your source.


  • Attribution-crediting the source of your information Example-”I have not yet seen talent that compares to Kelly, Fantasia, or David Cook,” Idol spokesperson Sally Smith said.
  • Use only neutral words when attributing sources or you risk showing bias-said, according to, asked, etc.

Types of Quotations

  • Direct Quotation-exact, word-for-word account of what person says-use to display thoughts, opinions from source (note: it is acceptable to edit a source’s information for grammar and to delete things like “uh” from direct quotes)
  • Paraphrase-summarizes what speaker said-uses no quotes, but still attributes information. Ex. Idol spokesperson Sally Smith says she has not seen anyone with a voice like Kelly Clarkson.
  • Partial Quotations-combinations of direct quote and paraphrase. Ex. Jones said he was displeased with the plan because it was “excruciatingly long, drawn out and expensive.”

Types of Quotations

  • Fragmentary Quotations-individual words or phrases that are singled out with quotes in a sentence-used to emphasize strong, descriptive words a source uses. Ex-Martin, who witnessed the crash, said the noise was “earth-shattering.”
  • Pulled Quotation-Important quote pulled from story, enlarged, and placed so that it draws attention to story. Used to gain reader’s attention

Quotation Types Practice

  • For the following quotes, determine if they are:
  • Direct, Partial, Fragmentary, or Paraphrase
    • Freshman Suzy Su said the best part of paintball is “trying to be so slick you don’t get hit.”
    • According to Lucy Thom, sophomore, people from the age of 5 to older adults come to play paintball.
    • Phillips, who plays paintball two or three times a month, said the game is “exhilerating.”
    • “I’m always looking for a new source of entertainment,” Thom said.
    • Don Johnson said the game is “awesome,” that the other players are sometimes “unusual” and that its more fun if she is in a “crazy mood.”

Writing Editorials

Editorial Writing

  • Author gives opinion of self and/or newspaper on an issue
  • Subjective
  • Usually addresses some sort of wrongdoing by the government or business (problem/s that arose due to certain laws/rules or lack thereof)
  • Persuasive in nature-calling reader to action-wants people to take a stand and make a change (Ex. Juvenile dying due to nurse neglect-author writes to try to get people called to action to change nurse care in Juvenile halls)


  • Thesis-what you are trying to prove in your writing
  • Say in your head “I am going to prove that…” and whatever comes after that is your thesis statement
  • Generally the last sentence of the first paragraph
  • A Thesis is NOT:

Thesis Practice

  • Write possible thesis statements for the following topics:
  • -War in Iraq
  • -Parents who leave their infants at fire/police stations
  • -Cloning humans
  • -Cafeteria food
  • Brainstorm using these topics-choose topic for editorial you will write based on the topic that you have the most/best ideas

How to be Persuasive-Give Facts

  • Facts-give statistics (percentages, numbers) that support your opinion to show how something must be done because the amount of something is very high or low
  • Sample scenario (the next 6 slides regarding persuasive techniques use this situation to give an example)
  • Sample Scenario: Someone writes an editorial about getting suspended from school for what they consider to be silly reasons.
  • Fact: Citing that 86% of students get suspended in a school year helps show that suspensions are given too freely when other consequences would work).

Be Persuasive-Give Examples

  • After making a main point, support your claim by giving the reader examples
  • Sample scenario: In the case of too many suspensions, give an example of a student who got suspended for something you think deserved different consequences
  • Remember, don’t just complain-offer solutions
  • Sample scenario Example- Say how lunch detention, a firm discussion, or a phone call home would be a better solution than suspension.

Be Persuasive-Give Expert Opinions

  • Find out what experts say on the subject
  • By telling the reader what people who know best about the subject think, you give yourself credibility
  • Sample scenario expert opinion Suspension-school board members, child psychologists, parents, etc.

Be Persuasive-Emotional Pleas

  • Convince your reader by tugging at the heart strings
  • Sample scenario emotions-Tell a sad story about a kid who never got in trouble but got suspended for something minor. Normally an “A” student, he missed tests and classwork he couldn’t make up and received failing grades on his report card. Make the reader feel sorry for the boy, and you can convince them with emotional pleas

Be Persuasive-Logic

  • Convince your reader that what you are saying just makes sense
  • Present your case as being the only reasonable solution
  • Work out the details so that the reader can see the logic behind your argument
  • Sample scenario logic-Many students like to stay home from school, so it isn’t logical to suspend them from school and give them what they want when they are supposed to be getting punished.


  • Refuting an argument means bringing up the opposite point of view and then disproving it point by point
  • In order to have an effective argument (as in editorial writing), you need to state your opinions about an issue, and also state the opposing viewpoint then show how that side is wrong
  • Sample scenario-refuting suspensions-Someone may argue that the reasons for so many suspensions are: 1-ISS is full, 2-the student should behave, 3-they need to know their behavior is not acceptable. As the editorial writer on this topic, you would mention these opposing viewpoints then show how those are not valid points. Refuting-1-ISS could have more teachers to supervise, 2-students are getting suspended for little reasons, so they are behaving, 3-there are other ways to show something is unacceptable (talk, detention, etc.)
  • “Know your enemy!”

Editorial Cartoons

  • Editorial Cartoons-gives opinions about current issue (usually political) through a drawing (usually one frame that quickly gets author’s feelings about an issue across)
  • Use symbols when necessary-many times the comedic element in editorial cartoons comes out when you show the object you are against in a symbolic fashion
  • Use Caricatures-exaggerated figure
  • Make analogies/comparisons to well known events/figures
  • Use labels to be sure victims/targets are clear

Editorial Cartoons (Cont’d) Creating Your Own

  • Think of opposing view’s main figure/leader of what you refuted)
  • How would you characterize a stereotypical one?
  • Use that caricature to make your point
  • Sample Suspensions idea-Dean standing at door of office not looking at the referrals given, just points to direct kids to get on a bus that says on its side “Suspended For No Good Reason”
  • Using the same topic you wrote your editorial about, draw a one-framed editorial cartoon that effectively shows your opinion on the subject

Editorial Writing/Cartoon Rubric

  • Requirements:
  • Effective Lead (10 pts)
  • Clear Thesis (5 pts)
  • Refute opposing view’s point/s (10 pts)
  • Story uses facts, examples, expert opinions, emotional pleas, and logic to build strong case (50 pts/5 pts each element)
  • Effective Editorial Cartoon on same subject of writing that incorporates given strategies (25 pts)
  • Total 100 points!

Writing Features


  • Human interest stories that appeal to the reader’s emotions
  • Reader can easily identify with the story
  • Purpose is to entertain

Timeliness of Features

  • Features do not have to be written and published right away as hard/breaking news stories do
  • They do not expire because they are not written about topics that the public must know immediately

Feature story ideas

  • Features MAY be linked to a current event (ex. There is a breaking news story in the paper about the war in Iraq. A feature story could then be written about a soldier’s family and what they have to do now that their provider has gone to war. AKA “news peg”)
  • Does not HAVE to be linked to breaking news-It may cover a wide range of topics (food, pets, people, etc.)
  • Feature stories may also use the same set of facts as a breaking news story-it is the author’s style of writing that makes it different
  • Brainstorm Timeless and News Feature story ideas with a partner

Feature Style

  • Although written with more creative license than breaking news stories, features are still based on facts
  • Do not follow inverted pyramid style of writing (most important facts to least important)


  • Does not necessarily use 5 W’s and H (summary)
  • leads as Breaking news stories do—use more narrative style
  • Lead Types:
  • -Big Potato (In Medias Res)-Jump into the middle of your paper and leave reader’s wanting more (ex. And suddenly everything stops.)
  • -Descriptive/Snapshot-Create a picture (snapshot) in the reader’s mind (ex. Abe Lincoln wasn’t the sort of man who could lose himself in a crowd. After all, he stood 6 foot 4 inches tall, and to top it off, he wore a high silk hat. His height was mostly in his long bony legs, and when he sat in a chair, he seemed no taller than anyone else. (Lincoln: a photobiography)
  • Striking statement- Flaunt favorite bit of research. Start with a startling fact (In his will, Shakespeare left his second-best bed to his wife.)

Leads cont’d

  • Misleading Leads-Set up expectations then surprise the reader (ex. I would like to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not terrified and screaming like the other people in the car he was driving.) (Prairie Home Companion)
  • Narrative-Put connection with the subject-Write specific memories subject brings to mind (ex. Once when I was a little girl, my father bought me a beaded wire ball that I loved. At a touch, I could collapse the toy into a flat coil between my palms, or pop it open to make a hollow sphere. It resembled a tiny Earth, with its wires tracing the same lines of latitude and longitude.) (Longitude)
  • Quotations and Questions-least effective choice-use only strong quotes and questions. Use this only as a last resort

With a partner, evaluate these feature story leads. Which make you curious about the rest of the story? Which do not? Discuss why. Rank the leads from worst to best (continue on next slide).

  • It was Thursday, Jan 2, 1998.
  • Leah Illiri’s mind was filled with sunny thoughts that April day. She was to graduate from college soon, and life had taken on a rosy glow. Then her car missed a curve-and nothing has been the same since
  • He’s a small man, about 4 ft 11 in tall. He weighs maybe 95 pounds when he’s soaking wet-and he’s soaking wet most of the time.
  • Through the inky darkness, a shot rang out.

Leads to Evaluate (cont’d)

  • If you think it’s noisy in the city, try visiting a farm once.
  • As the room filled with her classmates, Sara Jane Black could feel her confidence crumbling.
  • The door opened, and in walked Lute, all 6 feet 8 inches of him.
  • Have you seen the new painting in Mr. Lopez’a office?
  • Lights! Camera! Action!
  • As the Immortal Bard wrote, “All the world’s a stage.”


  • You don’t want just a bunch of quotes with no connections, so transitions are important
  • Make story easily readable and flowing
  • Write sentences that connect the last sentence of the last paragraph to the first sentence of the next

Write a Feature Practice

  • You are going to write a feature article about a classmate
  • Write down a set of 5-10 interview questions about a person’s earliest, happiest, or scariest memory (remember how-to interview slides in this powerpoint)
  • Choose a partner
  • Interview each other using the questions you made
  • Write a 200-250 word feature based on the interview with your partner

Feature Writing Rubric

  • Requirements:
  • -20 pts-Interview questions (open-ended; follow up questions included when appropriate)
  • -20 pts-effective lead (identify lead type in margin of paper)
  • -10 pts-effective/correct use of quotes
  • -10 pts-meets minimum length req (200 word min.)
  • -40-story follows style of a feature and captures human interest
  • TOTAL 100 points

Sports Writing

Sports Writing Terms

  • Backgrounding-finding out info about the sport, team, coaches, events, and issues that will be covered in sports writing
  • Advance-preview of an upcoming game that compares teams and players, discusses team records and gives lineups
  • Press Row-row of seats at an athletic event that are reserved for the press, usually courtside
  • Press Box-group of seats at an athletic event that provide a good view of the entire field
  • Homer-sportswriter who favors the home team in his/her writing
  • Cliché-trite, overused word or expression

Our School’s Sports

  • It is important to know what sports play when to be sure you have full coverage of all current sports
  • Work with a classmate to determine school’s teams and playing seasons
  • Make a two-columned chart.
    • Side 1 Team Sport Type
    • Side 2 Season sport is played

Getting to Know Sports

  • Teacher will assign each pair/group of 3 to teach the rest of the class about a sport played here at our school-put all info gathered onto chart paper-be prepared to teach class about sport
  • You will have 30 minutes to go online and gather information about your sport
  • Be sure to find out:
  • -how sport is played, object of game
  • -Number of players on a team and positions
  • -Most common sports jargon associated with sport (any terms/phrases particular to that sport)
  • -Tips: Look up “Your Sport” jargon or “Your sport” lingo or “Your Sport” terms or “Your Sport” dictionary

Avoiding Cliches

  • Cliches rely on jargon (language used in a specialty area) for that sport. If you use sports jargon, many readers will be confused if they are unfamiliar with the terms. If you use them, be sure to explain.
  • It is easy to get caught up using the same boring expressions in sports writing (splitting the uprights, deadlock, etc.)

Sports Interviewing

  • Cliches can also be found in answers to interview questions by team members and coaches.
  • Practice getting rid of these kinds of cliches in your writing by coming up with follow-up questions in an interview if a source gives you a “pat answer” (general statements that don’t show any real feeling or opinion. They are just answers that can please everyone, but don’t really mean much to the reader.

“Pat Answers” Avoidance Practice

  • Directions: Work with a partner to create
  • follow up questions (for an answer people care about) if a coach or player gives a “pat answer” to a question you ask:
  • The whole team did great!
  • We all did our best.
  • We are going to practice every day so we can win the next game.
  • I am very proud of all the players.

Practice Sports Writing

  • Take notes as we watch ending basketball
  • clip from Teen Wolf.
  • Consider:
    • Team names
    • Player names, numbers
    • Important events that happen (points scored, game score, time on clock, etc)
    • What would you ask coach/key players?
  • Turn notes into a Sports story based on the film clip (see rubric next slide)

Sports Writing Practice Rubric (from Teen Wolf clip):

  • Requirements
  • Effective Lead (Summary style-5W’s and H) (10 pts)
  • 6-8 Interview Questions that don’t allow for “Pat Answers” (If you could interview coach/players, what would you ask him/her) (10 pts)
  • No clichés or sports jargon used. Use fresh, lively language. (10 pts)
  • Factual-based on events in clip (10 pts)
  • Total 40 pts

Writing Reviews


  • Article type: Feature
  • Subjective
  • Reviewers in professional papers are usually experts who offer opinions and judgment about their area of expertise
  • Frequently focus on restaurants, theatre, movies, television, book, or music

Tone in Review Writing

  • Tone is important in reviews
  • What tone does the author use?
  • Is s/he sarcastic, positive, negative, cynical?
  • Read a review in the newspaper and determine the author’s tone
    • What words indicate tone?
    • How does author feel about topic?

After Reading Newspaper Review

  • After reading review in newspaper, what types of things does the author of the review do that could be used as a guideline for review writing?

Things to consider when writing Reviews

  • 1-Discuss background of actors/singers/authors, etc.
  • 2-Give summary/explanation of movie/song/book
  • 3-Give quotes from movie/song/book
  • 4-What you liked/disliked about what you are reviewing
  • 5-Give reasons and examples that support your opinions

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