Wednesday, 29 March 2017

News Writing: five W's and one 'H'


Humans are inherently inquisitive creatures. They are constantly on the lookout for new knowledge on anything and everything that piques their interest. Most forms of mass communication have, for the most part, aided in gratifying human curiosity. Newspapers, magazines, books, radio, television, and other forms of mass media have all attempted to acquire and deliver information to those in need of it.

The most significant demand that these mass media fulfil is to provide the most recent news from where one is located, news from the area, news from the nation, country, and, of course, news from across the world. As a result, the news is the most crucial input that everybody seeks from a mass media. But what exactly is meant by "news"? What exactly is news? This and other relevant topics will be covered in this lecture.

Presentation of Content:

Most mass media outlets rely heavily on news. Newspapers, radio, and news networks all rely heavily on breaking news. Many periodicals and Internet portals do as well. The fact that so many media outlets deliver news demonstrates the importance of news. We will study about how news is written in this section. We will also concentrate on other news-related write-ups. This lesson's content will be delivered as follows:

  • News Definitions
  • News Characteristics
  • News Writing
  • Analysis of News Story Structure
  • Backgrounder
  • Structure of Backgrounder
  • The distinction between news analysis and background

Definition of News:

In general, news refers to anything that is new. A report about a recent incident is referred to as news. A thorough storey that offers information or a description is referred to as news. It may also comprise the representation, delineation, declaration, and narration of a development event or occurrence. The occurrence is frequently recent and new, or it was unknown previously.

News is a product as well as a point of view. News is gathered, processed, and packaged as a product. The news is then presented to their respective audiences via newspapers, news services, news magazines, radio, television, cable stations, and networks.

News is anything that happens to catch and retain the reader's or listener's interest at a specific time. A news storey is a fair, accurate, brief, and balanced description of a current event that is of general interest to the public. The problem with news is that it doesn't stay noteworthy for very long.

Several newspapers, editors, news reporters, prominent journalists, and numerous media instructors have tried to define news, but their definitions have not always stood the test of time. Among these are:

  • Anything out of the usual constitutes news.
  • Anything published in a newspaper that piques the interest of a significant number of people is considered news.
  • Newspaper people create news.
  • Good news is not news. News is anything announced by a high-ranking official.
  • The terms "news" and "truth" are not interchangeable.
  • The purpose of news is to alert people to an upcoming occurrence.
  • The term "news" refers to any current, up-to-date information on an event received from the North, East, West, and South (news)

Joseph Pulitzer, the great American newspaper tycoon, had his own definition of news. He once stated that news should be: original, distinct, romantic, and exhilarating; unique, curious, quaint, witty, odd, and appropriate to be discussed.

Turner Cateledge, a former managing editor of the New York Times, defined news as "whatever you can find out today that you didn't know previously."

In today's world, newscasters and media personalities are more likely to define news in terms of what consumers, readers, listeners, and viewers want to know.

Characteristics of News:

Despite several efforts to define "newsworthiness," news remains undefined. Perhaps it is not accessible to a succinct definition or a simple explanation. However, some components are present in news. Generally, the following elements or traits of news are regarded as reliable:

  • Timelines
  • Proximity
  • Prominence
  • Consequence
  • Human Concerns
  • Unusual occurrences such as mysteries,
  • conflicts
  • tragedies

News may be classified into the following categories: novelty, personal effect money, crime, sex, magnitude, religion, catastrophe, comedy, the underdog, science, entertainment, weather, food, minorities, and fashion.

Writing News Stories:

It is critical to understand that the goal of news writing is to disseminate information. It has been said that today's news is history tomorrow. As a result, news writing must be done with the goal of giving information that is true, objective, fair, balanced, accurate, precise, and to the point. News writing, on the other hand, is a skilled trade. Good reporters master their job and elevate it to the level of an art form.

It may be obtained via hard effort, devotion, understanding, and consistent and prolonged practise throughout time. To be successful, one must have a nose for news as well as the attributes of brain and heart. To write effective news, one must be highly adept and discriminative in attentively observing, hearing, and seeing things, events, and people, taking notes, and keeping a mental record of where to discover information sources. It also entails asking pertinent questions, as well as verifying, counter-checking, cross-checking, and double-checking facts. It necessitates the capacity to analyse and understand data obtained in a fair and impartial manner.

For news writing, one must instil a strong discipline of writing in the needed style, with the goal of presenting maximum information with the fewest words.

When properly written, a full news piece should typically address the following six questions:

WHO - is or are involved?

WHEN-did the event take place?

WHERE -did the event take place?

WHY -did it take place?

WHAT -did actually take place? and

HOW -did it take place?


These questions are referred to as the five W's and one H. These questions are at the core and soul of a well-written news piece. Again, if a news storey directly attracts individuals, it will have a broad impact.

Example of a News Story: 

Here's an example of a reasonably well-written news report introduction:

"A 25-year-old lady from Jaipur, Mrs. Sarla Choudhaiy, was shot by a Delhi Police officer in a packed Connaught Place shop this evening." When the accident occurred, her husband, Rajesh, and mother-in-law, Mrs. Rani Chowdhary, were with her. She went shopping for utensils for her newlywed daughter in Delhi. Ram Narain, the police officer, has been detained and is being held in jail. Mrs. Sarla Chowdhary's body has been transported to RLM hospital for post-mortem."

Here's another example of a piece of excellent news:

"Kanpur, 17 March— A two-and-a-half-year-old girl was brutally murdered today in a village here, reportedly by three youngsters while playing beneath a tree, according to police. "On Sunday evening, the boys, aged three to four, reportedly stoned the child, then got a kitchen knife from the house to stab her, and disposed of the corpse in a nearby drain in Hathipur village," SSP M A Ganapathy said.

During interrogation, the youngsters told the storey in a childlike manner, he claimed. Although the beating and stoning appear to be unintended, Mr. Ganapathy believes criminal intent could not be ruled out since they attempted to dispose of the body. No charges have been filed against the three because, according to Section 82 of the Indian Penal Code, a crime committed by a kid under the age of seven is not deemed a crime, he said, adding that police were examining the matter. Children from low-income households stated they liked watching action movies and learned how to stab from them. During interrogation, the youngsters told the storey in a childlike manner, he claimed. Although the beating and stoning appear to be unintended, Mr. Ganapathy believes criminal intent could not be ruled out since they attempted to dispose of the body. No charges have been filed against the three because, according to Section 82 of the Indian Penal Code, a crime committed by a kid under the age of seven is not deemed a crime, he said, adding that police were examining the matter. Children from low-income households stated they liked watching action movies and learned how to stab from them.

The Police Inspector-General According to Mr. L. P. Mishra, the police apprehended them after registering a murder case against them. The kids did not hesitate to confess their crime to the cops. They also informed police that they had witnessed similar incidents in movies. He stated that this was most likely the sole event of its sort in the country.



Structure of a News Story:

The "inverted pyramid" approach and style of drafting a news storey is commonly used. Despite various developments and modifications in news writing styles and procedures over the years, most news articles remain adhere to the inverted pyramid form, style, and tactics. The inverted pyramid structure of news suggests that the most significant information will be shown first. This is referred to as the "lead." The lead is sometimes known as the "intro" or "introduction" since it introduces the news piece.

Lead could be of several types:

Name Lead: When the individual(s) mentioned in the news is/are significant.

Quotation Lead: When what is said is critical to the news item.

Short Lead: In three or four words, conveys the most crucial portion of the news: 'Nehru is dead.'

Negative Lead: There are no survivors from the railway catastrophe that happened yesterday.

Suspended Interest Lead: When three isn't the main emphasis of the tale, but it still deserves to be told. It is sometimes referred to as a "Featurised lead."

Question Lead: The first statement raises significant concerns, such as who is to blame for the state of Delhi's roadways.

Direct Quotation Lead: When the opening paragraph opens with a citation from a V.I.P.'s speech or statement

Contrast Lead: A lead that compares the two contrasting circumstances in order to draw attention to the emphasis. For example, when one considers ongoing cases in courts, it is difficult to understand what characterises the easygoing attitude of government employees. A lead that compares the two contrasting circumstances in order to draw attention to the emphasis. For example, when one considers ongoing cases in courts, it is difficult to understand what characterises the easy-going attitude of government employees.

Then, there are other leads such as:

·         Descriptive lead

·         Parody lead

·         Chronological lead, and

·         Staccato lead (stop and start lead)

Following the lead, the following sections would be produced in a logical order to support the lead. That is, the second most significant fact is presented first, followed by the third, fourth, and so on. The tale is usually written in short paragraphs. Each phrase should be no more than two dozen words long, and each paragraph should be no more than two or three sentences long. Though the inverted pyramid format is appropriate for hard news, it is not appropriate for soft news, feature news, or even sports news.

  1. First paragraph: Most Important point
  2. Second Para: The second important point
  3. Third Para: The next important point
  4. Fourth Para: The next important point
  5. Fifth Para: The next important point

 Examples of Lead or Introduction:

As previously indicated, the news item is constructed in such a way that the "lead" carries the event's main focus. This is referred to as the "Summary lead," as well as the five W's and one H.

For Example:

The corpse of Ramesh 21, a Delhi student, was recovered on the city's major market square yesterday by Hisar police.

Here’s another example:

Ram Chand, a 33-year-old Chandigarh shopkeeper, was murdered when a Delhi-bound Punjab Roadways bus collapsed on the outskirts of Kamal on Monday morning.

Normally, the lead should answer all or as many of the six (five W's and one H) questions as possible. If the person killed is a minister, the lead could emphasise "who"; if the accident occurred in a busy market place, "where" could be emphasised; if the mishap occurred due to the carelessness of the driver, "why" and "how" could be highlighted; if the number of deaths or property loss is very high, "what" could be the lead and if time is critical, "when" would be the lead of the storey automatically.

Furthermore, in news reports about everyday occurrences, the reporter must pick which of the W's should be stressed.

For example:

On Monday night, a devastating tyre exploded in Delhi's Rajpath slum, destroying 120 thatched houses. There were no fatalities recorded.

Yet another lead of an ordinary event:

5th of January, Hisar Anil and Sunil, two eight-year-old boys, were abducted on Saturday from the Local DAV School field where they were playing yesterday afternoon.

News Analysis:

News analysis is a style of writing in which the author discusses the relevance and significance of a certain development or event. Facts obtained on the scene or from a variety of different sources are used to write news pieces. Most news events are forgotten once they appear in newspapers, as you may have seen.

However, there are certain news events that are extremely significant in a variety of ways. Furthermore, there are other concerns on which, if a certain development occurs, various channels for additional reporting open up.

For example, Prime Minister Vajpayee's bus trip to Lahore is seen as a significant step in normalising ties between India and Pakistan. As is generally known, India and Pakistan have a number of bilateral concerns that need to be resolved. This visit by India's Prime Minister is seen to be very important at the age of 80. A write-up or news analysis of this event will explain to the reader the complete slew of problems that could be addressed or the entire range of pending issues between the two countries that might be resolved by the goodwill generated by the Prime Minister's bus excursion.

Again, subjects connected to women's empowerment, such as the adoption of the Women's Reservation Bill, or the American President's visit to India, such as the 1998 nuclear test at Pokharn, can be examined in depth.

Structure of News Analysis:

A news analysis is often composed of the following steps: a broad introduction pertaining to the news development, when and how it occurred; why and for what reasons it occurred; and placing it in correct perspective. Explaining the relevance from a historical standpoint, stating facts and numbers, and providing names; quotations, data, and events that contributed to the current development. Then, anticipating probable future developments, the reasons for these developments, the people involved, and the ultimate solution or final shape of things to come as a result of the new turn of events. The writer usually writes this piece while keeping the newspaper or magazine's policy in mind. However, these sorts of write-ups are frequently done objectively.


As newspapers aim to deliver all types of information on all potential current topics of interest. There are certain subjects that stay in the headlines and are relevant for years. A backgrounder is intended to give information about a topic in chronological sequence. This allows the reader to put a problem into context and appropriately appreciate the subject in light of current developments. In general, a backgrounder traces the issue back to the day it first drew the attention of the news media. For example, if the President's rule is established in a certain state owing to poor law and order, the backgrounder will include detailed facts on when and how the state fell under President's control. In the international context, if a coup occurs in any country due to civil conflict or another reason, the backgrounder will discuss the history of that country.

How to write a Backgrounder?

To write a backgrounder on a specific subject, one must first describe the present state of affairs and then trace back to earlier occurrences. This would be done in a logical and historical chronological manner, with the date, month, and year of each linked event provided. Other facts, such as human life losses, property losses, and so on, will also have to be provided. Furthermore, "how did the situation return to normal" will need to be provided. These might be described using charts, images, or other visual aids.

The backgrounder is provided in plain language that avoids elaborating on subtle points of writing. The goal is to tell the reader with historical and chronological information on recent advancements in the events.

Difference Between News Story and Backgrounder:

While the news analysis section describes the relevance, cause, and effect of an issue, the backgrounder section looks into the event's history and chronology. A backgrounder does not voice his or her viewpoint, but a news analysis writer may critique, celebrate, or condemn the development. The backgrounder is an unbiased, plain, and straightforward historical overview of the issue or subject. A backgrounder must have substantial information and numbers, statistics, tables, graphs, and images. Only the facts and data required to convey the relevance of the event, topic, or development are used in news analysis.