How to Write a News Article
News articles report on current events that are relevant to the readership of a publication. These current events might take place locally, nationally, or internationally.
News writing is a skill that’s used worldwide, but this writing format—with its unique rules and structure—differs from other forms of writing . Understanding how to write a news story correctly can ensure you’re performing your journalistic duty to your audience.
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What is a news article?
A news article is a writing format that provides concise and factual information to a reader. News stories typically report on current affairs that are noteworthy—including legislation, announcements, education, discoveries or research, election results, public health, sports, and the arts.
Unlike blog and opinion posts, a strong news article doesn’t include personal opinion, speculation, or bias. Additionally, the diction and syntax should be accessible to any reader, even if they’re not deeply familiar with the topic. News stories, therefore, don’t contain jargon that you might find in a research paper or essay.
What are the rules for writing a news article?
Whether you’re learning how to write a short news story for a school assignment or want to showcase a variety of clips in your writing portfolio , the rules of news writing hold true.
There are three types of news articles:
- Local: reports on current events of a specific area or community. For example, “College Football Team Welcomes Legendary NFL Coach” or “School District Announces New Grading Policy.”
- National: reports on current affairs within a particular country. For example, “NASA’s James Webb Telescope Captures Surreal Images of the Cosmos.”
- International: reports on social issues or current affairs of one or more countries abroad. For example, “UK’s Record Heat Wave Expected to Continue Next Week.”
Regardless of the type of news article you’re writing, it should always include the facts of the story, a catchy but informative headline, a summary of events in paragraph form, and interview quotes from expert sources or of public sentiment about the event. News stories are typically written from a third-person point of view while avoiding opinion, speculation, or an informal tone.
How is a news article structured?
While many news stories are concise and straightforward, long-form or deeply investigated pieces may comprise thousands of words. On the shorter side, news articles can be about 500 words.
When it comes to how to structure a news article, use an inverted pyramid. Organizing your content this way allows you to thoughtfully structure paragraphs :
- Begin with the most important and timely information
- Follow those facts with supporting details
- Conclude with some less important—but relevant—details, interview quotes, and a summary
The first paragraph of a news article should begin with a topic sentence that concisely describes the main point of the story. Placing this sentence at the beginning of a news article hooks the reader immediately so the lede isn’t buried.
At a traditional newspaper, this practice is described as “writing above the fold,” which alludes to the biggest, most pressing news being visible at the top of a folded newspaper.
How to write a news article
There are a handful of steps to practice when writing a news story. Here’s how to approach it.
1 Gathering information
Source the five Ws about your news topic: who, what, where, when, and why. Lock down a keen understanding of the timeline of events so you can correctly summarize the incident or news to your reader. The key is to position yourself as a credible and reliable source of information by doing your due diligence as a fact gatherer.
2 Interviewing subjects
Consider who you want to interview for the new article. For example, you might choose to interview primary sources , such as a person who is directly involved in the story.
Alternatively, secondary sources might offer your readers insight from people close to or affected by the topic who have unique perspectives. This might be an expert who can offer technical commentary or analysis, or an everyday person who can share an anecdote about how the topic affected them.
When interviewing sources, always disclose that you’re a reporter and the topic that you’re writing on.
Draft an outline for your news article, keeping the inverted-pyramid structure in mind. Consider your potential readership and publication to ensure that your writing meets the audience’s expectations in terms of complexity.
For example, if this news article is for a general news publication, your readership might include a wider audience compared to a news article for a specialized publication or community.
Brainstorm a snappy headline that concisely informs readers of the news topic while seizing their interest. Gather the most important points from your research and pool them into their respective pyramid “buckets.” These buckets should be based on their order of importance.
Get to writing! The paragraphs in a news article should be short, to the point, and written in a formal tone. Make sure that any statements or opinions are attributed to a credible source that you’ve vetted.
Reread your first draft aloud. In addition to looking for obvious typos or grammar mistakes , listen for awkward transitions and jarring tense or perspective shifts. Also, consider whether your first draft successfully conveys the purpose of your news story.
Rework your writing as needed and repeat this step. Don’t forget to proofread your work.
Strong news stories are built on facts. If any statement or information is shaky or unsupported, the entire work is compromised. Before publishing a news article, double-check that all the information you’ve gathered from the beginning is accurate, and validate the information that your interview sources provided, too.
How to write a news article FAQs
What is a news article .
A news article informs readers within a community of current events that are relevant to them. It typically revolves around a topic of interest within a publication’s readership, whether the information is about local, national, or international events.
News articles are structured like an inverted pyramid. The most important or crucial information is always presented to the reader up front, followed by additional story details. A news article concludes with less important supporting information or a summation of the reporting.
The general rules for writing a news article involve accuracy and integrity. Report on the details of a story in a factual, unbiased, and straightforward way. When writing a news article, do not editorialize or sensationalize the information, and keep your content free of your opinion.
How To Write a News Article (+4 Tools, Examples & Template)
By Dmytro Spilka
Nov 6, 2019
By the late 1400s, the printing press had been perfected, and Germany began publishing pamphlets containing news content. Realising the power of printed news, several papers in London became popularised in the years following 1621.
Almost 400 years later, the transition from print to online has had a profound impact on the way we consume news and subsequently, how we create it. You’ve probably already noticed that the morning paper covers the news that was instantaneously delivered to your mobile device the night before.
The nature of online news reporting allows journalists to simultaneously watch an event unfold and update their readers in real-time. Both print and online news articles aim to discuss current or recent news in local happenings, politics, business, trade, technology and entertainment.
Typically, a news article on any topic and at any level will contain 5 vital components for success . This is what separates news-article writing from other forms of writing.
These 5-12 words should deliver the gist of the whole news. In most cases, it’s important not to play with words or to be too cryptic. A news article headline should be clear and succinct and tell the reader what the article is about. Should they find the topic interesting, they will probably read the article.
Whilst headlines should be clear and matter-of-fact, they should also be attention-grabbing and compelling. According to some sources, eight out of ten people will read headline copy and only two will continue to read the rest of the article (Campaign). So, if 80% of people are unlikely to ever make it past the headline, there is plenty of room to spend extra time in crafting the perfect headline for your news article.
This BBC headline definitely makes people give it a second look. At first glance, you probably noticed the words “Goat” and “Ronald Reagan” and wondered what on earth has brought this farm animal and 80s U.S. president to exist within the same sentence- let alone the same headline . Closer inspection lets the reader know that the article is about goats’ helping to save the Presidential library in the California fires. Most would want to know how, so they read on.
Put simply, this string of words tells people who wrote the article and is usually prefaced by the word ‘by’. This component really depends on the company you write for. Whilst most magazines and newspapers use bylines to identify journalists, some don’t. The Economist, for example, maintains a historical tradition where bylines are omitted and journalists remain anonymous. In such cases, the news article reflects the publication as a whole.
3. Lead paragraph
This is the section to get straight down to the facts and there is no time for introductions. A lead paragraph must be constructed to attract attention and maintain it. To do this, the basic news points and facts should be relayed without digressing into detail or explanation. Those are forthcoming in the next section of the article.
Included in the lead are what journalists refer to as the 5 Ws: Who, what, when, where and why. To some extent, by simply stating each W, some form of lead is automatically formed. For example; “ An off duty nurse and paramedic used a makeshift tourniquet to save the life of British tourist whose foot was bitten off by a shark in Australia on Tuesday”.
- Who – an off duty nurse and paramedic and a British tourist
- What – built a makeshift tourniquet
- When – Tuesday 29th October 2019 (article published Wednesday 30th October 2019)
- Where – Australia
- Why – to save the life of the British tourist
This should conclude your lead paragraph and have your readers engaged and interested to learn more about the news. Resist the temptation to include additional details about the event as they have no place here. Structure is everything and you wouldn’t want to mess up the flow of the overall piece.
A good place to start when writing the paragraph that follows your lead is to jump into the shoes of your readers and think about what they might want to know next. What are the factors that seem obscure, or most fascinating and is there scope to delve into more explanatory detail to put it into the wider context?
To do this well, the writer must have access to the answers to these questions.
Expanding on the details of your 5 Ws is all about providing in-depth coverage on all the important aspects of your news. Here, you should reflect on your first-hand information. Add relevant background information that explores the wider context. In other words, consider whether this story has implications on anything else.
Include supporting evidence in this section. This can take the form of quotations from people involved or opinions of industry experts. Referring to credible sources in your news article will add value to the information you publish and help to validate your news.
Ensure that the use of your quotations add value and are informative. There is little use in providing a quote that doesn’t shed light on new information. If the point has been made clear in your lead paragraph – there is no need to repeat it here.
For example, “An off duty nurse saved the life of a British tourist’, said Police Chief John Adams.” This quote tells the reader what they already know as this is the information stated in the lead.
Rather, “It was a long way back to shore and if he continued to bleed that much all the way back I’m not sure he’d have made it” – said Emma Andersson, off duty nurse.’ The inclusion of this quote gives a deeper insight into the severity of the incident and adds value to the article.
5. Additional information
This space is reserved for information of less relevance. For example, if the news article is too long, get the main points down in the preceding paragraphs and then make a note of the trivial details. This part can also include information about similar events or facts that somewhat relate to the news story.
What makes a news article so powerful
The ultimate aim of a news article is to relay information in a specific way that is entertaining, informative, easily digestible and factual . For a news article to be effective, it should incorporate a range of writing strategies to help it along. It should be:
Active not passive
Writing in the active tense creates a more personal link between the copy and the reader. It’s more conversational and has been found to engage the audience more. It also requires fewer words, so shorter and snappier sentences can be formed.
For example “A British tourist’s life was saved by an off duty nurse” is longer and less colloquial than “An off duty nurse saved a British tourists’ life”. The latter is easily understood, more conversational and reads well.
Positive, not negative
Whilst it is true that certain publications might use language to swing the sentiment of their copy, news should give the reader the information they need to inform their own opinion . The best way to do this is to avoid being both negative or positive. A neutral tone reads well and draws attention to key issues.
It’s often more effective if your news article describes something that is actually happening rather than something that’s not. For example, rather than stating that “the government has decided not to introduce the planned tuition funding for university students this academic year” a more palatable account of the event would be “the government has abandoned plans to fund university tuition this academic year”.
We now know that the use of quotations belongs in your explanatory paragraph. They validate what you’ve said and inject emotion and sentiment to your copy. But what makes a good quote? And how and when are they useful?
Writers should be able to differentiate between effective and ineffective quotes. They should also appreciate that a poorly selected quote placed in an inappropriate paragraph has the power to kill the article.
Consider who you are quoting. Is their opinion of interest to your readers? Quotes that are too long can grind on your reader’s attention. Especially if they are from bureaucrats, local politicians or generally just boring people with nothing significant to say. Rather, the shorter and snappier the quote, the better. Bald facts, personal experiences or professional opinions can add character and depth to the facts you’ve already laid out.
Direct quotes provide actuality. And Actuality provides your article with validation. Speeches and reports are a great source of quotes by people that matter to your story. Often such reports and transcripts can be long and tiresome documents. Great journalistic skill is to be able to find a usable quote and shorten it to make it more comprehensible. Second to this skill is to know precisely when the actual words used by a person should be quoted in full.
Remember, people ‘say’ things when they speak. They don’t “exclaim, interject, assert or opine”. Therefore, always use the word “said” when attributing a quote. For example, “three arrests were made on the scene” said PC Plum.
Sound use of adjectives
The golden rule here is that adjectives should not raise questions in the reader’s mind, rather they should answer them. Naturally, an adjective raises further questions. For example:
- ‘Tall’ – how tall?
- ‘Delightful’ – according to whom?
- ‘Massive’ – relative to what?
Unless followed by further information, adjectives can be subjective. However, this isn’t always bad. If they contribute to the relevance of the story, keep them. Just be sure to ponder each one as to whether they raise more questions in the reader’s mind.
Lastly, it’s always better to approach news-style writing directly and specifically. Use words like ‘gold, glitter, silver,’ instead of ‘bright and sparkly’. Being specific isn’t dull or boring. It allows readers’ to follow the article with a more accurate understanding of the news. Vagueness does not.
No Jargon or abbreviations
Those working in an organisation or specific industry will often take for granted the fact they’re surrounded by jargon. It’s a convenient and efficient way to communicate with those who also understand it. These terms become somewhat of a secret language that acts to exclude those on the outside. This must be assumed at all times when writing news. There’s no telling whether an article on a new medical breakthrough will be read solely by medical practitioners and scientists. In fact, it almost certainly won’t be.
If readers feel lost in your article or have to look elsewhere for explanations and definitions of acronyms and abbreviations, it’s unlikely they’ll return. The rule here is to avoid them or explain them.
Be cautious with puns and cliches
Over and over you hear them and rarely do they evoke any positive response; cliches have no place in your news article. Yet, as for puns, lots of headline writers find these neat little linguistic phrases irresistible.
The problem is, they can be just as exclusive as unrecognisable jargon. References to the past that are well received by readers over 55 years old, means risking a large portion of readers being left out.
Is there a tasteful and refined way to use puns, cliches or metaphors ? Yes, but one always bears the risk of some readers not understanding and abandoning the article altogether. Take the following example:
The Sun’s headline “Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious” echoing Liverpool’s earlier “Super Cally goes ballistic, QPR atrocious”.
In all fairness, both are great puns and will have had most readers humming the Mary Poppins anthem all afternoon. But to fully appreciate this play on words, it helps to know that ‘Cally’ is the former footballer, Ian Callaghan and ‘Caley’ is the team Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Those with no interest or knowledge of football would have been immediately excluded from this article. However, given the fact that the article was clearly aimed at football enthusiasts or at least, fans, the aim was never to produce an all-inclusive article in the first place.
Write in plain English (make it easily digestible)
Articles written in plain English are easy to digest. This is especially important what discussing complex or technological news. Most readers won’t have the time to decipher cryptic or overly elaborate writing styles whilst keeping up with the news story being told.
Clear and unambiguous language, without technical or complex terms, should be used throughout. As the amount of news we consume each day has increased with the internet, mobile devices and push notifications, it is important to keep things simple. We now have the pleasure and task of retaining more news than ever before. This is easier to do when the news we consume is clear, succinct and written in plain English.
Be timely and up to date
News gets old fast. Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. So, timeliness in the news industry is imperative to its success. Similarly to freshly baked goods – news should be served fresh. Once it’s old and stale, nobody’s interested in it. Don’t, however, take the risk of serving it before it’s ready.
There is great skill attached to being a timely journalist. Capabilities must range from gathering research in good time, to writing content at speed and editing accurately under pressure. There are a few things you can do to help stay on top of the latest affairs and find time to write.
First, a conscious effort to stay up to date with news on all levels is necessary. That is international affairs, governmental, regional and local levels. You should have a solid awareness of ongoing issues and debates across all mediums. For example, If there’ve been developments on ongoing peace treaties, you should be able to pick up the news story as it is – without the need to revise the entire story.
It’s likely that you’ll be under the pressure of several tight deadlines. Don’t just keep them in mind, write them down. Keeping a content calendar is an effective way to organise your time and make sure you’re hitting all deadlines accordingly. Whether it’s your phone calendar or an actual deadline diary, a visual representation of time can help you distribute tasks and stick to a schedule.
Always be available when a press release comes your way. If you’re not there to cover the story, someone else will. Organise a backup just in case you’re unavailable to make sure all necessary information reaches you in emergency situations. Having such a plan in place can save time when it comes to researching and writing news articles. The writing process becomes easier when all the material is at hand.
Make it entertaining
A good news article will entertain its readers. To do so, the article should contain some human interest. In general, it’s been found that people are interested in the lives of other people. An article that appeals to the voyeuristic part of human nature is immediately entertaining.
For example, a flood in an empty building doesn’t have nearly as much human interest as a flood in a building full of people and belongings. Sad, but true. Simply because we identify with each other, we are interested in reading about each other too.
If your story has an interesting or relatable person at the heart of it, it should fuel your article . Tug at the emotional strings of your readers and make a connection between them and your story. Look hard enough, and you’ll find human interest everywhere. Writing a business article about a new project manager with a passion for bringing tropical fruit flavours to toothpaste? There’s human interest here. We all use toothpaste – whilst some will be onboard with this idea, others will scoff and remain faithful to their dependable mint flavoured paste.
Prepare to tap into your inner literary comic. If the story you’re working on is funny, don’t hold back. Just as most journalists enjoy working on a story that hits their ‘quirky button’, most readers will be more inclined to read a story that plays on their humour strings.
Fact check everything
‘Fake news’ has become a familiar term, especially for journalists. Unverified facts and misleading claims have blurred the line between journalism and other content creation. It’s now more important than ever to fact check everything .
A good PR tip is to avoid a reputation disaster rather than repair one. You do not want to fall into the category of fake news. This might drive away potential returning readers and significantly reduce readership.
Using statistics, figures and facts are a great way to add validity and actuality to your article. They lend themselves to originality and make your article more credible when used correctly. Without checking the authenticity of these facts, you risk delivering an article that is grounded in fiction.
News article writing tools
To hit the nail on the head and deliver a news article that is well researched, well written and well-received; take advantage of some online writing tools to help you along the way.
This free and comprehensive writing tool is practically everything you need to craft grammatically correct and error-free copy. Not only does it check your spelling and grammar, but punctuation too. Grammarly uses context-specific algorithms that work across different platforms to help make your content flow seamlessly throughout.
2. Headline Analyzer
Analyse your headlines for free and determine the Emotional Marketing Value score (EMV score). Headline analyzer analyses and scores your headlines based on the total number of EMV words it has. Headline Analyzer also tells you which emotion your headline most impacts, so you know whether you’re on the right track from the get-go. So, along with your score, you’ll find out which emotion your headline piques at, be it intellectual, empathetic or spiritual.
Writing for the web requires a distinctive set of skills than those required for print. The way readers use the online space and in particular, the search engines have changed the way they consume news. Ultimately, out of the millions of web pages, readers should be able to find yours.
Be mindful of the words you use in your article. Search engines assume that content that contains words or phrases that have or are likely to be searched by researchers, is more relevant content. As such, it bumps it up to higher-ranking positions.
You can easily find out which precise words have been in popular searches and which phrases you should incorporate into your article. Use Ahrefs Keywords Explorer tool to explore seed keywords, industry keywords, and generate keyword ideas.
You can also use Ahrefs Content Explorer to search for any keyword and get popular content that drives traffic.
4. Discussion forums
Online communities and discussion forums are a great source for journalists to broaden their network and keep up-to-date with the latest media news. Find useful tips and the latest news in the following groups:
- Journalists on Facebook, contains more than 1.3 million fans and over 9,000 journalists. It’s one of the most established journalism communities online. You’ll find inspiration and a place to find and discuss breaking news.
- LinkedIn for Journalists is a highly active community featuring a section dedicated to advice and discussion points for journalists. Take advantage of monthly free webinars that cover how to generate story leads, build sources and engage audiences.
- /r/journalism on Reddit, opens the door to nearly 10,000 members, posting questions, advice, interesting news stories and professional opinions on recent and breaking news. Not only is it a source of news stories, but also a place to find an extremely diverse mix of opinions and story angles.
A structural combination of the essential components of a news article , as noted in the first section of this post, will put you in the right direction. Once you have your framework – made up of a working headline, lead, preliminary explanation and additional notes – you can begin to pack it with all the elements that bring a news article to life.
Turn to Ahrefs and online communities for inspiration and make use of writing and editing tools like Grammarly for the entire process. This will save you time editing (crucial in the news media world) and improve the quality of your article to get it to the top of those SERPs.
Remember, there’s always a human interest, you just have to find it. It’s this element that will determine the level of engagement your article stimulates. Just keep in mind, most people are either interested in how a news story will affect their own lives or how another person’s life is being affected.
By the end of the process, you should have a news article that is in good shape and ready to entertain, educate, inspire or inform your readers. The last thing to do but certainly no less crucial is to fact check everything. A sub-editor can be handy when it comes to catching typos and picking up grammatical errors, but fact-checking is primarily down to the writer.
News Article FAQ
[sc_fs_multi_faq headline-0=”h3″ question-0=”How long should a news article headline be?” answer-0=”Headlines that are between 5-12 words (up to 65 characters) are generally more effective.” image-0=”” headline-1=”h3″ question-1=”How long should a news article be?” answer-1=”The word count is unlimited. It all depends on the nature of your news article. However, as a general rule, Google needs at least 300 words of content to grasp the context of the page.” image-1=”” headline-2=”h3″ question-2=”How to cite a news article?” answer-2=”Generally, you would need to add the name of the source, the name of the author and a hyperlink to the original source.” image-2=”” headline-3=”h3″ question-3=”How to fact check a claim, statement or statistics?” answer-3=”The claim, statement or statistics must be verifiable by a credible source. Context plays a massive role in fact-checking, hence, simply taking citing figures may not qualify as proper fact-checking.” image-3=”” count=”4″ html=”true” css_class=””]
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News Writing: Tips and Examples for Better Reporting
by Kaelyn Barron
There are many ways for us to access the news today, from traditional print newspapers to social media newsfeeds. Of course, some sources are more reliable than others.
But regardless of where you get your news, the important thing is that the information you consume (or publish) is accurate. Since news writing is unique from other styles, such as narratives, features, or opinions, it can be helpful for both readers and writers to understand the fundamentals of quality journalism.
What Is News Writing?
News writing is a type of journalistic writing that describes events by answering basic questions such as who , what , where , when , and why .
News writing often requires some investigation on the part of the writer, which can include obtaining quotes or data to make the article as accurate and thorough as possible. This type of writing is usually objective and expository, reporting and explaining the facts of an event rather than providing an opinion or analysis.
How Is News Written?
To practice quality news writing, follow these 5 steps.
1. Stay consistent with news values.
The first thing you should do before starting a piece of news writing is consider how the topic fits in with the 6 key news values.
These values help journalists determine how newsworthy a story is, as well as which information should be included in the lede and article as a whole.
These are the 6 news values reporters should consider before sitting down to write an article:
- Timeliness : When did the event you’re writing about happen? In news writing, recent events carry higher value than less recent ones. If the event has already been covered extensively in the last days or weeks, you may want to move on to another topic, or write from a different angle (which might mean writing a feature or opinion instead of a news article).
- Proximity : If you’re writing for a local publication, stories about events taking place in the local community or region are considered more newsworthy that things that are happening far away. Best Rated Gun Parts at Rotorm.om from all the top brands. Hundreds of highly rated Gun Parts currently in stock & ready to ship! Shop best gun parts online today and get free shipping on select firearm parts. Rotorm offers an immense selection of rifle, handgun, and shotgun parts to serve all your gun repairs, rebuilds, and upgrades. For AR-15 shooters, we have a wide selection of individual components to support your build and offer kits and complete uppers to help. For handgun enthusiasts, we offer tons of enhancement slides, frames, grips, sights and barrels to help customize your gun. #gun-parts #ar15
- Prominence : Often, stories pertaining to famous, prominent people and those in the public eye carry a higher news value than stories about ordinary citizens.
- Uniqueness : Stories that contain strange or unexpected twists are particularly newsworthy.
- Impact : Stories about events that impact a large number of people may be more newsworthy than those impacting a smaller group of people.
- Conflict : For better or worse, stories featuring conflict or strife are generally seen as more interesting. (That’s where we get the old adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.”)
Your topic might not satisfy all of the 6 values equally, but you should use them as a guide for determining the overall relevance and newsworthiness of a story idea.
2. Practice thorough and ethical reporting.
Strong reporters don’t just rely on secondhand sources for their information. Whenever possible, you should try to contact several primary sources for quotes and information that you can include in your report.
Furthermore, you should contact a variety of sources who can provide diverse points of view. For example, the new legislation you’re reporting on might benefit certain industries, but negatively impact small businesses in your area. You should try to represent both sides in your reporting.
Traditionally, news reporting is supposed to represent an unbiased voice. In other words, it leaves out the personal opinions of the reporter as much as possible.
Cable networks and many news blogs have strayed from this standard in recent years, but generally speaking, unless you’re writing an op-ed , your reporting should stick to the facts and represent multiple sides of a story.
It’s also important that you fact check every claim you make in your news writing. Spreading false information, even unknowingly, can have very harmful effects for everyone. Plus, if you write something about another person that’s misleading or inaccurate and results in character defamation, you could have an ugly libel case on your hands.
You should also attribute all information that you report to a source. Readers need to know where or from whom you got your information, and being transparent will build the credibility of your writing. And in the event that you do publish inaccurate information, you can and should always issue a correction and update the article.
3. Follow the inverted pyramid.
News stories are typically written using a structure known as the “inverted pyramid.” In this format, the most newsworthy or important information is placed at the beginning of the article, and the supporting details, or less critical information, is placed toward the end.
Below are the 3 key elements of the inverted pyramid structure:
- Lead : Start with the most important facts. In journalism, this usually includes the 5 W’s and 1 H, meaning you should answer the questions of who, what, where, when, why , and how .
- Body : The “body” is what follows the lead. It contains the crucial info, including the “meat” or controversy of your story, evidence, background, quotes, and other details that support, dispute, or expand the topic.
- Tail : The “tail” contains extra info that might be interesting or related to the main topic. It can also be a concluding paragraph that contains an assessment by the journalist.
4. Write a strong lede.
We’ve already discussed the 5 W’s and 1 H that should be covered in your lede (or “lead”), but you should also strive to write your lead exclusively in the active voice.
This means you should avoid all forms of the verb “to be.” (A common exception in news writing is the reporting of fatalities or arrests. In other words, it’s okay to say someone was killed , or was arrested .)
You also have several options when it comes to starting your lede. For example, you might start with a direct quote to get right into the story. Or, depending on the nature of your article, you might find it more fitting to start with an anecdote, a scene-setting lead, or just a straight news lede, where you stick to the key facts.
The following is an example of a straight news lede:
A fire broke out around 3:50 a.m. on Sycamore Avenue Wednesday morning, destroying 12 properties and leaving 20 people without homes. Police are investigating the possibility of arson.
Let’s see how this lead addresses the 5 W’s and 1 H:
What : a fire that destroyed 12 homes
Who : 20 residents who were impacted
Where : Sycamore Avenue
When : Wednesday morning at 3:50 a.m.
Why : The motive is unknown, but police are considering arson.
How : Also not clear, but arson is a strong possibility.
5. Read more news writing.
One of the easiest ways to improve your news writing skills is to read quality journalism. Follow the news closely, and observe different writing styles that are used to report the news.
Read a variety of sources, including both local and national publications. Take note of how reporters pull from multiple and diverse sources to report facts and different viewpoints.
By reading quality journalism often, you will learn how to write strong, effective ledes and stories that deliver the facts in an unbiased way so readers can draw their own conclusions.
What Are the 5 Parts of a Newspaper Article?
A typical newspaper article contains 5 key elements:
- Headline (and sometimes subhead) : The headline appears at the top of the article and indicates its main subject. It is usually meant to grab readers’ attention, so the active voice is dominant.
- Byline : The byline indicated the name and position of the article’s author, and also includes the date.
- Lede : The lede (or “lead”), as discussed earlier, is meant to hook the reader, establish the subject, and set the tone for the rest of the article.
- Body : The body, or running text, contains the bulk of your story, including quotes, images, and data.
- Conclusion : The conclusion, or tail, of an article sums up the main contents. It might include a final quote, or an indication of what’s happening next.
Why Is News Writing Important?
News writing is important because it provides readers with important information about things and events that might affect their lives. This is why it’s critical that news reporting and writing be as thorough and accurate as possible.
Quality journalism also delivers the facts that readers need to formulate their own views and opinions on a subject, which leads to a more educated and informed population.
Practice Different Types of Writing
If you want to improve your writing skills, one effective strategy is to practice different writing types and styles. For example, try your hand at fiction or writing about nature .
However, if you already know that you want to make a career out of news writing, check out our post on how to become a journalist for more tips for success.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:
- Sports Writing: Types, Examples, and Tips for Better Reporting
- Exploring Nature Writing: Examples and Tips for Writing About the Wild
- How to Write an Op-Ed: 8 Tips for Writing and Pitching Your Opinion Articles
- How to Become a Journalist: 6 Tips for Aspiring Reporters
As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working remotely allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.
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How to Write a Newspaper Article
Last Updated: March 16, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 324,223 times.
A newspaper article should provide an objective, factual account of an event, person, or place. Most newspaper articles are read quickly or skimmed by the reader, so the most important information should always appear first, followed by descriptive content that rounds out the story. By conducting research and following the correct organizational structure, you can create an informative newspaper article in no time.
Conducting Interviews and Research
- Your sources should be experts in the field your article is focusing on, such as a certified professional, a professor, or an academic. You can use sources that have extensive experience or background in a field that relates to your article.
- Sources like a witness to an event can also be useful, especially if they have first-hand experience of the topic you are covering.
- You may need to conduct more than 1 interview with your sources, especially if they are a major source for the article. You can also send follow-up questions to your sources as needed.
- You will need to transcribe your interviews by typing them up to ensure you quote your sources correctly. Having transcriptions will also make fact checking your article and backing up your sources much easier.
- Make sure you cite the information properly in your article by noting the name or organization that provided the information. You should have credible sources to back up any claims or arguments made in the article.
- If you are writing the newspaper article for an editor, they may require you to provide a list of your sources for the article to show you have fact checked your work.
Structuring the Article
- For example, you may create a headline like, “Teen Girl Missing in Okotoks” or “Congress Stalls on Family Planning Bill.”
- In some cases, it may be easier to save the headline for last, after you have written the article, so you know what the focus of the article is and can sum it up clearly.
- For example, you may write a lead like, "An outbreak of flu in San Francisco has led to 3 elementary school closings this week, according to school officials." Or, "A missing girl originally from Okotoks was found Monday in an abandoned cabin in the Minnetonka area, according to local police."
- For example, you may write, “10-12 students have been diagnosed with the flu and health officials fear it could continue to spread if it is not contained.”
- For example, you may write, “The teen girl was reported missing on Friday afternoon by her mother after she did not come home from a study date at a friend’s house. She is the second girl to be reported missing in the past 2 weeks from the Okotoks area.”
- For example, you may write, “‘The girl is shaken, but does not appear to have any serious injuries,’ stated local Police Chief Wilborn.” Or you may write, “According to a statement by school officials, ‘The shutdown will prevent the flu from spreading further and ensure the safety of our students.’”
- Avoid using long quotes or more than 4 quotes in the article, as the reader may get confused or lost if there are too many quotations.
- For example, you may write, “The girl’s mother expressed relief for her daughter and concern about her community, noting, ‘I just hope no other girls go missing in this area.’”
- Or you may write, “Local health officials are urging parents to check the municipal health and wellness website, www.hw.org, for updates on when schools are able to reopen.”
Creating the Appropriate Voice and Tone
- For example, rather than write, “The missing girl’s mother thought it had to do with school,” you may write, “The missing girl’s mother thought bullying at school may have caused her daughter’s absences.”
- For example, rather than write, “A press conference will be held by local police tomorrow to address the missing girls and the public’s concerns,” you may write, “Local police will address the missing girls and the public’s concerns in a press conference tomorrow.”
- For example, if you're writing about two political candidates running against each other in an election, present both candidates in an equal light, rather than giving extra details about 1 candidate.
- If you're writing an op-ed piece, it's okay to mix some of your opinions with the facts.
Polishing the Article
- Reading the article aloud can also help you catch any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.
- For example, you may ask others questions like, “Were you able to understand what happened, based on the information in the article?” “Was the language clear and easy to follow?” “Was the article well supported with sources and quotes?”
- If you are writing the newspaper article for a class, make sure it falls within the prescribed word limit for the assignment.
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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about writing as a career, check out our in-depth interview with Gerald Posner .
- ↑ https://guides.lib.vt.edu/researchmethods/interviews
- ↑ https://www.csus.edu/indiv/o/obriene/art116/readings/guide%20for%20conducting%20interviews.pdf
- ↑ https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2013/01/22/part-4-what-people-want-from-their-libraries/
- ↑ https://settlement.org/ontario/daily-life/communication/ethnic-and-cultural-media/what-is-fake-news-and-how-to-stop-spreading-misinformation/
- ↑ https://www.viasport.ca/communications-toolkit/module-4-how-write-engaging-sports-article
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/journalism_and_journalistic_writing/writing_leads.html
- ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/05/
- ↑ https://www.lib.sfu.ca/about/branches-depts/slc/writing/sources/quoting
- ↑ https://lib.trinity.edu/in-text-citation-and-notes//
- ↑ https://www.csus.edu/campus-safety/police-department/_internal/_documents/rwm.pdf
- ↑ https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf
About This Article
To write a newspaper article, gather all of your sources and verify any facts or sources you plan to use. Write an opening sentence that tells the readers the most essential details of the story. Write in third person, active voice, and maintain an authoritative tone throughout the article. Keep in mind the questions “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” and “How” when you’re writing your story, and try to answer as many of them as you can. When you’re finished writing the article, craft a short, engaging headline that tells readers what the article is about. To learn how reading your article out loud can help you proofread it, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Opinion The Washington Post guide to writing an opinion article
The Washington Post is providing this news free to all readers as a public service.
Follow this story and more by signing up for national breaking news email alerts.
Each month, The Washington Post publishes dozens of op-eds from guest authors. These articles — written by subject-matter experts, politicians, journalists and other people with something interesting to say — provide a diversity of voices and perspectives for our readers.
The information and tips below are meant to demystify our selection and editing process, and to help you sharpen your argument before submitting an op-ed of your own.
How to write a news article: 11 key steps
Discover the 11 key steps for researching, reporting, and writing a compelling news piece, including how to structure the story, use quotes and add credibility
For aspiring journalists, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the dos and don’ts of article writing. We break down the traditional news article and show you how to build up a great piece of writing.
What is a News Article?
News articles report on current events like legislative change, politics, local announcements, the weather, scientific research, public health, the arts, and sports. While news articles vary in scope based on where they are published, they all must stay understandable for a large audience and convey information clearly, concisely, and accurately.
The Anatomy of a News Article
News articles are similar to other nonfiction articles in structure, but their main difference lies in how information is presented. The general anatomy of a news article consists of the following:
Arguably the most important part of the news article, if you don’t have a headline that attracts the eye of your readers, your article will not get read. So, headlines need to stand out and make a reader want to find out more, in just a few words.
Better known as the lede or lead, a news article’s hook is meant to draw readers in further and get them interested in your piece. A good hook is only a few sentences long but manages to draw them into your article.
The Inverted Pyramid
The body of a news article is like an upside-down pyramid: the most critical information should be at the top of the piece, and less important information comes later. In news articles, this information hierarchy is what often separates each section.
Ideally, your sources are the soul of your news article. Without accurate information, it’s impossible to report trustworthy news. We’ll delve more into sourcing information later in this article, but for now, remember that the best kind of source comes directly from live experience. Including quotes from first-hand sources is a great way to add credibility and interest to your article.
How to Write a News Article
So, let’s get started writing a news article. Generally speaking, there are eleven steps to creating a strong report:
1. Find Your Topic
The first thing you’ll need to do when writing a news article is to find what you’ll write about. Freelance journalists often pick topics they’re passionate about since it’s far easier to write about a topic you’re interested in. However, journalists working for news outlets may get assigned articles based on previous industry experience– that’s how specialized journalists come to be.
2. Determine Your Scope
Next, you’ll need to determine the scope of the article. This is like finding the target audience for your article. There are roughly three different levels of scope in journalism: the local, state or national, and the global level. The language you use and the subject of your article will vary depending on your scope.
3. Collect Primary Sources
You’ve got an idea of what you want to write about and on what scale you’re reporting, so now it’s time to get some information. The first sources you’ll need are primary sources, which come directly from people involved in your news story. A good example of a primary source would be the reporter interviewing a firefighter who saved a cat from a burning building or speaking with the cat’s owner about the fire's aftermath.
4. Collect Secondary Sources
Your secondary sources are pieces collected from other stories. In our fire scenario, your secondary sources might include information from previous fire coverage or the cat’s health history from a local vet.
5. Create a Citation List
Once you’ve found your sources, you’ll need to cite them. Citations vary from outlet to outlet, so always consult someone on the team regarding how you’ll cite your sources. Citations are necessary for conducting research; in journalism, they’re vital to establishing credibility in the article.
6. Outline Your Article
With the research out of the way, it’s time to get started outlining your article. Following the upside-down pyramid format, organize your information from most important to least important. Your outline will help you stay on track with each news article section.
7. Write Your Drafts
With the outline complete, you’re ready to write your first draft. Chances are, you’ll have to write multiple drafts of your piece as you go, so focus on getting your information down for the first draft.
8. Edit Your Draft
When you edit, check the article for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. While editing programs like grammar checkers and your computer’s spell check are great ways to speed up the process, remember to have your article proofread by someone else.
9. Fact-Check Your Information
Fact-checking should happen multiple times during your writing process since accurate information is the most crucial part of any news report. When you fact-check, ensure your information is also up-to-date since new information may change the context of an event.
Proofreading your article helps writers match the tone and style of a newspaper’s. Proofreading is a lot like editing; you’ll need to move slowly and read things through to ensure that your article is easily understandable to the general public.
11. Include Your Sources
Once the main portion of your news article is complete, include your sources in a works cited page below it.
Timeliness is Important, But so is Accuracy
In an age of clickbait, it's essential not to sacrifice accuracy in favor of early publication.
How to Write a News Article: Article Format/Narrative
- What Is News?
- How to Interview
- The Intro or Lede
- Article Format/Narrative
- How To Write A Review
- Writing News Style
- Naming Sources
- The Future of News?
While some writers feel inhibited following a standard format, these forms help organize information so the reader can easily understand the topic even if they're just skimming the paper or website. They also help entice the reader to read further.
The Inverted Pyramid - First developed and widely used during the Civil War, the inverted pyramid is best suited for hard news stories. The article begins with the lede and presents information in order of descending importance. The most important information comes first, followed by less important details.
- Pros and Cons of the Inverted Pyramid
- The Inverted Pyramid Structure
The Hourglass - builds on the inverted pyramid and combines a narrative. It delivers breaking news and tells a story. The first 4-6 paragraphs contain a summary lede and answer the most pressing questions. Then a transitional phrase cites the source of the upcoming story - "Police say the incident occurred after closing last night." The article concludes with the chronological story.
- The Hourglass: Serving the News, Serving the Reader
- The Hourglass - Narratives
The Nut Graph - developed by the Wall Street Journal in the 1940s, it includes an anecdotal lede that gets the reader's attention, followed by a paragraph that provides larger context for the story and moves the article in that direction. This form lets the reporter explore larger issues behind an incident. For example, a nutgraph article might begin with the story of a fire, then move into a discussion of budget cuts that lead to delays in fighting the fire.
- The Nut Graf, Part I
- Keys to Creating an Effective Nut Graph
- More on the Nut Graph
The Narrative - has a beginning, middle, and end just like a story. One famous example, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood , was actually published as a novel. But for most news articles, narratives should be short and to the point and used only where telling a personal story helps to convey the point of the article. The New Yorker is noted for using narrative form.
- Narrative Journalism
- 10 hurdles to narrative journalism
- Articles about Narrative Journalism
- The Future of Narrative Journalism
- Why Narrative Matters
The Five Boxes Story - combines the forms listed above. Useful when you have a lot of data to sort through. Box 1 contains the lede, Box 2 contains the nutgraph, Box 3 tells the story begun in Box 1, Box 4 contains supplemental details such as statistics or expert opinions, and Box 5 contains the "kicker" or the quote, image, or comment that ends the story on a strong note.
- Five Boxes to Build a Story Fast
- A Writing Guide: The Four Boxes
SPC's 5-Box Form
- Article Critique Form
More on Format
- 11 Types of Articles to Write for Magazines
- How to Write Book Review
- LQTQTQ Construction
- News Writing
- Prewriting Questions for Book, Movie, or Play Reviews
- Requirements and Structure of a Review
- Reviving the Feature Story
- Writing Sports Profiles
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How to Write a News Story
Newspaper article outline, how to write a news story in 15 steps.
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The Purdue Owl : Journalism and Journalistic Writing: Introduction
From Scholastic: Writing a newspaper article
I. Lead sentence
Grab and hook your reader right away.
Which facts and figures will ground your story? You have to tell your readers where and when this story is happening.
III. Opening quotation
What will give the reader a sense of the people involved and what they are thinking?
IV. Main body
What is at the heart of your story?
V. Closing quotation
Find something that sums the article up in a few words.
VI. Conclusion (optional—the closing quote may do the job)
The following is an excerpt from The Elements of News Writing by James W. Kershner (Pearson, 2009). This book is available for checkout at Buley Library (Call number PN 4775 .K37 2009, on the 3rd floor)
1. Select a newsworthy story. Your goal is to give a timely account of a recent, interesting, and significant event or development.
2. Think about your goals and objectives in writing the story. What will the readers want and need to know about the subject? How can you best tell the story?
3. Find out who can provide the most accurate information about the subject and how to contact that person. Find out what other sources you can use to obtain relevant information.
4. Do your homework. Do research so that you have a basic understanding of the situation before interviewing anyone about it. Check clips of stories already written on the subject.
5. Prepare a list of questions to ask about the story.
6. Arrange to get the needed information. This may mean scheduling an interview or locating the appropriate people to interview.
7. Interview the source and take notes. Ask your prepared questions, plus other questions that come up in the course of the conversation. Ask the source to suggest other sources. Ask if you may call the source back for further questions later.
8. Interview second and third sources, ask follow-up questions, and do further research until you have a understanding of the story.
9. Ask yourself, “What’s the story?” and “What’s the point?” Be sure you have a clear focus in your mind before you start writing. Rough out a lead in your head.
10. Make a written outline or plan of your story.
11. Write your first draft following your plan, but changing it as necessary.
12. Read through your first draft looking for content problems, holes, or weak spots, and revise it as necessary. Delete extra words, sentences, and paragraphs. Make every word count.
13. Read your second draft aloud, listening for problems in logic or syntax.
14. Copyedit your story, checking carefully for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style problems.
15. Deliver your finished story to the editor before deadline.
Kershner, J.W. (2009). The Elements of News Writing. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
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- Last Updated: Nov 28, 2023 11:13 AM
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15 News Writing Rules for Beginning Journalism Students
The goal is to provide information clearly in common language
- Writing Essays
- Writing Research Papers
- English Grammar
- M.S., Journalism, Columbia University
- B.A., Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gathering information for a news article is vitally important, of course, but so is writing the story. The best information, put together in an overly intricate construction using SAT words and dense writing, can be difficult to digest for readers looking for a quick news fix.
There are rules for news writing that result in a clear, direct presentation, providing information efficiently and accessibly to a variety of readers. Some of these rules conflict with what you might have learned in English Lit.
Here's a list of 15 rules for beginning news writers, based on the problems that crop most frequently:
Tips for News Writing
- Generally speaking, the lede , or introduction to the story, should be a single sentence of 35 to 45 words that summarizes the main points of the story, not a seven-sentence monstrosity that looks like it's out of a Jane Austen novel.
- The lede should summarize the story from start to finish. So if you're writing about a fire that destroyed a building and left 18 people homeless, that must be in the lede. Writing something like "A fire started in a building last night" doesn't have enough vital information.
- Paragraphs in news stories should generally be no more than one or two sentences each, not the seven or eight sentences you probably wrote for freshman English. Short paragraphs are easier to cut when editors are working on a tight deadline, and they look less imposing on the page.
- Sentences should be kept relatively short, and whenever possible use the subject-verb-object formula. Backward constructions are harder to read.
- Always cut unnecessary words. For example, "Firefighters arrived at the blaze and were able to put it out within about 30 minutes" can be shortened to "Firefighters doused the blaze in 30 minutes."
- Don't use complicated-sounding words when simpler ones will do. A laceration is a cut; a contusion is a bruise; an abrasion is a scrape. A news story should be understandable to everyone.
- Don't use the first-person "I" in news stories.
- In Associated Press style, punctuation almost always goes inside quotation marks. Example: "We arrested the suspect," Detective John Jones said. (Note the placement of the comma.)
- News stories are generally written in the past tense.
- Avoid the use of too many adjectives. There's no need to write "the white-hot blaze" or "the brutal murder." We know fire is hot and that killing someone is generally pretty brutal. Those adjectives are unnecessary.
- Don't use phrases such as "thankfully, everyone escaped the fire unhurt." Obviously, it's good that people weren't hurt. Your readers can figure that out for themselves.
- Never inject your opinions into a hard-news story. Save your thoughts for a review or editorial.
- When you first refer to someone in a story, use the full name and job title if applicable. On all subsequent references, use just the last name. So it would be "Lt. Jane Jones" when you first mention her in your story, but after that, it would simply be "Jones." The only exception is if two people with the same last name are in your story, in which case you could use their full names. Reporters generally don't use honorifics such as "Mr." or "Mrs." in AP style. (A notable exception is The New York Times .)
- Don't repeat information.
- Don't summarize the story at the end by repeating what's already been said. Try to find information for the conclusion that advances the story.
- Avoid the Common Mistakes That Beginning Reporters Make
- Learn to Write News Stories
- Six Tips for Writing News Stories That Will Grab a Reader
- 10 News Writing Exercises for Journalism Students
- 5 Key Ingredients for Great Feature Stories
- How to Avoid Burying the Lede of Your News Story
- 10 Important Steps for Producing a Quality News Story
- How to Write Feature Stories
- Use Verbs and Adjectives to Brighten up Your News Stories
- How to Write a News Article That's Effective
- Constructing News Stories with the Inverted Pyramid
- Tips for Writing Broadcast News Copy
- These Are Frequently Used Journalism Terms You Need to Know
- Writing a Lead or Lede to an Article
- The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
- How to Write a Personal Narrative
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How to Start a News Article (5 Powerful Ways)
by Linda Formichelli
A guest post by Linda Formichelli from the Renegade Writer blog
Why is it important to learn how to start a news article?
Readers are short on time.
So when someone starts reading your article, you have just a few seconds to draw her in and convince her to keep going. The same applies to a query letter — you have only a sentence or two to grab the editor and make him want to finish reading your pitch.
Remember, your articles and queries are competing with TV, Internet surfing, chores, administrative tasks, meetings — not to mention hundreds of other pitches and articles. To help you draw the busy, distracted reader into your writing, I’ve compiled my five best tips.
1. Start with a quote.
Imagine starting an article on infidelity like this:
“I knew I never should have trusted my best friend,” says Sarah Johnson of Lawrence, Kansas.
A quote that surprises readers, entices them, or leaves just a little to the imagination is a great way to keep their eyeballs on the page. Just be sure not to overuse this tactic: It’s so easy to use that many writers are tempted to rely on it for all their articles, and editors do notice if you’re a one-note.
How to get this magical quote? The more you practice interviewing, the better you’ll get at eliciting great quotes from your sources. Write up a list of questions, but don’t stick to the list — use it as a guideline, but ask other questions as you think of them during the conversation. You’re more likely to get a source talking freely if you approach the interview as a conversation than if you fire questions at her from a list shotgun-style.
2. Jump into the action.
Too many writers start off their queries and articles by hemming and hawing, giving too much background, and generally boring the reader. One trick professional writers use is to simply lop off the first paragraph or two of their piece so that it starts right in the middle of the action.
For example, say you’re writing about your experience having a heart attack. Instead of explaining what happened to you starting at the beginning or describing your health status previous to the heart attack, start with yourself being wheeled into the emergency room with medical workers swarming around you. For example:
“Code Blue! Code Blue!” Those were the last words I heard in my delirium before I went under — and when I woke up, I found myself in a hospital bed, tethered to machines with tubes sprouting from my arms. I’d had a heart attack while I was getting ready to leave for work that morning.
3. Use a startling statistic.
If you were shocked by a statistic, chances are your readers will be, too. So if parents of only children and five times happier than parents of multiple kids, or bullying victims are 8 times more likely to commit suicide (I just made those up), be sure to put that somewhere in your opening paragraphs.
4. Find a compelling anecdote.
This is one of the best ways to start an article, and is related to my tip to jump into the action. Many women’s and health magazines start a good portion of their articles with a personal anecdote as a matter of course.
An anecdote can come from someone in the magazine’s target demographic, or from yourself if you’re part of the mag’s demographic. They’re easy to find, too…think of what kind of anecdote would best illustrate your topic, and ask around on relevant forums and source-finding services like Help a Reporter for people who have been through that experience.
Here’s the lede I used on an article about perfectionism for Oxygen magazine:
Elisabeth Andrews, a fitness instructor in Bloomington, Indiana, used to get anxious before every class and worry that she would forget her routine. “Then one day, when the class was especially packed, we were doing a stretch with our arms in the air and I loudly told everyone over the microphone to ‘Keep your head between your ears,'” Andrews recalls. “Everyone laughed so hard, including me, and it turned out that a lot of people felt more comfortable asking questions after I had shown my imperfection. As a result I was able to be a better leader and connect with my class.”
A personal anecdote like this helps the reader relate to the situation you’re writing about and makes him want to keep reading.
5. Use specific language.
Readers are drawn in by precise language and strong phrasing that gets your point across — not vague generalities. For example, when I pitched an article about health-hazard clothing, I didn’t write:
If your shoes are too small, they can hurt your feet.
Instead, I wrote:
If you’re teetering around in too-tight Manolos, you can get hit with foot woes ranging from simple soreness to bunions.
See how many specifics I used? A brand name instead of the general “shoes.” “Teetering” instead of just “wearing” or “walking.” “Soreness” and “bunions” instead of merely “hurt.”
Here’s another example: This is the lede to a query that led to an article in the now-defunct $1/word market Zillions :
It can happen to even the savviest shopper: The Levis you bought disintegrate after just one washing, or maybe that Game Boy cartridge isn’t nearly as exciting as it looked in the ad. Don’t toss your new purchase and hope for better luck next time — write to the company and tell them what you think!
I could just as easily have written:
It can happen to even the savviest shopper: The jeans or toys you bought aren’t good quality. Don’t toss your new purchase and hope for better luck next time — write to the company and tell them what you think!
Do you agree that the second version is weaker and more likely to cause the reader to give up and move on to more interesting things? In the first version, by using brand names and giving concrete examples of what happens to those products (“disintegrate after just one washing” and “isn’t nearly as exciting as it looked in the ad”), I help the reader form a clear vision of the situation in her mind — and keep her reading.
Have you ever used these tactics, and if so, how did they work? What tricks do you have for drawing readers in to your articles , and editors into your queries? Please post your tips in the Comments below so we can all learn from them!
Linda Formichelli, a WTD Top 10 finalist for 2011, is the co-author of the Renegade Writer blog .
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10 Easy Steps: How to Write a Newspaper Article Example
Step 1: Understand the Purpose of a Newspaper Article
A newspaper article is a written piece of journalism that provides information about current events , news, or other topics of interest to the readers. It aims to inform, educate, and engage the audience. Whether you are writing for a local newspaper or an online publication, understanding the purpose of a newspaper article is crucial.
What is the purpose of a newspaper article?
A newspaper article serves to report on recent events, provide analysis or commentary, and inform the public about important issues. It aims to present factual information in a clear and concise manner , while also capturing the attention of the readers.
Step 2: Choose a Newsworthy Topic
When writing a newspaper article, it is important to choose a topic that is newsworthy and relevant to your target audience . A newsworthy topic is something that is timely, interesting, and has a significant impact on the community or society as a whole.
How to choose a newsworthy topic?
Consider the following factors when choosing a newsworthy topic for your newspaper article:
- Relevance: Is the topic important and relevant to your readers?
- Timeliness: Is the topic current and happening now?
- Impact: Does the topic have a significant impact on the community or society?
- Uniqueness: Does the topic offer a fresh perspective or unique angle?
Step 3: Research and Gather Information
Before you start writing your newspaper article, it is essential to conduct thorough research and gather all the necessary information. This will ensure that your article is accurate, well-informed, and credible.
How to research and gather information?
Follow these steps to conduct effective research for your newspaper article:
- Identify reliable sources: Look for reputable sources such as government websites, academic journals , and expert interviews.
- Collect data and facts: Gather relevant data, statistics, and facts to support your article.
- Interview key individuals: Conduct interviews with experts, eyewitnesses, or individuals involved in the event or topic you are covering.
- Take notes: Keep detailed notes of all the information you gather to use as a reference when writing your article .
Step 4: Create an Outline
An outline is a helpful tool that will guide you through the writing process and ensure that your newspaper article is well-structured and organized. It will help you stay focused and prevent you from missing any important details.
How to create an outline?
Follow these steps to create an effective outline for your newspaper article:
- Introduction: Start with a captivating headline and a brief introduction that grabs the reader's attention.
- Main body: Divide your article into several paragraphs, each focusing on a different aspect of the topic. Use subheadings to make it easier for the readers to navigate through the article.
- Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your article and provide a closing statement or call to action.
Step 5: Write a Catchy Headline
The headline is the first thing that readers see, and it plays a crucial role in capturing their attention and enticing them to read the article. A catchy headline should be concise, informative, and intriguing.
How to write a catchy headline?
Consider the following tips when writing a catchy headline for your newspaper article:
- Be concise: Keep your headline short and to the point.
- Use strong words: Use powerful and descriptive words to grab the reader's attention.
- Highlight the main point: Make sure your headline accurately reflects the main point or angle of your article.
- Create curiosity: Spark the reader's curiosity by posing a question or using a provocative statement.
Step 6: Write an Engaging Introduction
The introduction of your newspaper article should hook the readers and provide them with a clear idea of what to expect from the rest of the article. It should be concise, informative, and captivating.
How to write an engaging introduction?
Follow these tips to write an engaging introduction for your newspaper article:
- Start with a hook: Begin your introduction with a compelling statement, anecdote, or fact that grabs the reader's attention.
- Provide background information: Give a brief overview of the topic and provide any necessary context or background information.
- State the main point: Clearly state the main point or angle of your article in the introduction.
- Keep it concise: Keep your introduction short and to the point, avoiding unnecessary details or lengthy explanations.
Step 7: Write the Main Body
The main body of your newspaper article should provide detailed information, facts, and analysis related to the topic. It should be well-structured, organized, and easy to read.
How to write the main body?
Follow these guidelines when writing the main body of your newspaper article:
- Use paragraphs: Divide your article into paragraphs to make it easier for the readers to follow.
- Stick to the facts: Present accurate and reliable information, supported by credible sources.
- Provide evidence: Use data, statistics, quotes, or examples to support your claims and provide evidence for your arguments.
- Use subheadings: Use subheadings to break down your article into sections and make it easier to navigate.
Step 8: Write a Compelling Conclusion
The conclusion of your newspaper article should summarize the main points and provide a closing statement or call to action. It should leave the readers with a clear understanding of the topic and a sense of closure.
How to write a compelling conclusion?
Consider the following tips when writing a compelling conclusion for your newspaper article:
- Summarize the main points: Briefly recap the main points discussed in the article.
- Provide a closing statement: End your article with a strong closing statement that leaves a lasting impression on the readers.
- Call to action: Encourage the readers to take action or further explore the topic.
- Avoid introducing new information: Your conclusion should not introduce any new information or ideas.
Step 9: Edit and Proofread
Editing and proofreading are essential steps in the writing process. They help ensure that your newspaper article is free from errors, well-structured, and easy to read.
How to edit and proofread your newspaper article?
Follow these steps to effectively edit and proofread your newspaper article:
- Read your article aloud: Reading your article aloud can help you identify any awkward sentences or grammatical errors .
- Check for clarity and coherence: Make sure your article flows smoothly and is easy to understand.
- Eliminate unnecessary words or phrases: Remove any redundant or unnecessary words to make your article more concise.
- Check for spelling and grammar errors: Use spell-check tools and proofread your article carefully for any spelling or grammar mistakes.
By following these 10 easy steps, you can write a newspaper article that is informative, engaging, and well-structured. Remember to choose a newsworthy topic, conduct thorough research, and provide accurate information. Craft a catchy headline and an engaging introduction to capture the reader's attention. Use paragraphs, subheadings, and evidence in the main body to present your information effectively. Conclude your article with a compelling summary and call to action. Finally, edit and proofread your article to ensure its quality and readability. Happy writing!
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What are the key elements of a newspaper article?
The key elements of a newspaper article include a catchy headline, a lead paragraph that summarizes the main points, the body paragraphs that provide detailed information, and a concluding paragraph. Additionally, newspaper articles should be written in a concise and objective manner, with accurate facts and quotes from reliable sources.
How do you structure a newspaper article?
A newspaper article typically follows the inverted pyramid structure, where the most important information is presented at the beginning (lead paragraph) and the less important details follow in descending order. This structure allows readers to quickly grasp the main points even if they only read the first few paragraphs. Additionally, newspaper articles should have clear subheadings, use short paragraphs, and include relevant images or infographics to enhance readability.
What are some tips for writing a newspaper article?
Some tips for writing a newspaper article include conducting thorough research to gather accurate information, using a clear and concise writing style, avoiding biased language, and fact-checking all statements. It is also important to use quotes from reliable sources to add credibility to the article and to proofread the article carefully before submission to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors.
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How to write a news article
Writing a news story or newspaper article for school assignment can be stressful to many students. Unless you’re a Journalism major , this is the first time most students have ever written a news article or paper of any kind. If you need to know how to write a newspaper article, read on for great tips, examples, structure, and outline.
When writing your newspaper article, make sure it has several components.
- The first component should be an introductory paragraph where the reader learns who, what, when and where.
- The second component is body paragraphs . These will feature quotes from people such as the reporter or eyewitnesses to the event.
- A conclusion. Conclude with a closing paragraph that references all information in your article.
You may want to have a “by line” at the beginning of your article where you state who wrote the article. The by line could also include your position or role in a news event or a quote from a person that was interviewed for the article.
How to write a feature article
A good news article can be one of the most challenging types of writing for someone to do well, but also one of the most rewarding when it goes over well with an audience. In fact, many journalists will tell you that they find this type of work very difficult and stressful, since there are so many guidelines and details that need to be followed to produce a great piece. Before you attempt a story, it’s a good idea to learn what makes writing a news article work well.
Let us review the process of writing a newspaper article for school.
How to Write a News Story – 10 Steps
Here are 7 steps in writing a good news story for school or for your english or journalism class:
Choose a current, newsworthy event or topic to write about.
Conduct timely, in-person interviews with witnesses.
- Establish the “Four Main Ws”
Plan your article
Create an outline, write your first draft, insert quotations, research additional facts and figures, read your article out loud before publication, polish up your article for publishing.
Each of the step is discussed below:
First of all, you will need to choose a good topic for your article. Try to find something that is currently happening and important in the world. If you’re writing an article for school, it’s best if you pick something that interests you personally so that you can do some research about it and make your opinion known in the article.
How to find a news topic to write about:
- Look for popular news stories on the internet at websites like CNN News or BBC News .
- Watch the TV to see if any current topics are being covered.
- Ask your parents what they’ve been watching on TV and why it’s important.
- Read the newspaper to see what is trending.
- Read the flyers and posters around your house and school for inspiration!
Let’s say you want to write about the 2016 U.S elections and who you think will win the presidency. This is a good topic because politics are always ongoing and there is never a lack of topics for debates. You can look on news websites or search on social media websites such as Facebook to find new, incoming events that might be newsworthy. Or, you can also just stay up to date on the news by watching your local channel or reading the newspaper.
Once you have a identified a news topic, it’s time to get started!
This is a really important part of how to write a news story for your class or for your school newspaper. You need to get information from people who were actually there so that you can write about their experiences. Some of these people may include eyewitnesses or police officers who arrived at the scene of an accident. You should also interview people who have been affected by the issue or event that you are writing about.
For example, if you were writing a story on bullying in your school, you would want to talk with bullies and victims of bullying as well as teachers and staff members.
You should ask each person the same set of questions so that their answers can be compared later. You can also make it easier to compare answers by numbering each question in order.
For example, if you are interviewing three students about their experiences with bullying at your school, you could ask them questions 1-3 for the first student and 4-6 for the second student all while recording their responses or having another person take notes.
- What is your name?
- How long have you been bullied for?
- Have you ever seen another person being bullied at school?
Make sure to give each person a chance to tell you what they think about the issue, solution, or event that you are writing about. This means that you will have to ask them questions that they might not have felt comfortable answering on their own, such as “What do you think should be done to stop bullying?”
Sometimes people may not want to talk with you, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with what they have to say.
Establish the “Five Main Ws”
This is also called the Five Ws and One H. You should always answer Who, What, When, Where, Why and How when writing a newspaper article. The sixth question that journalists ask is “How much?” but in some cases, this can be included in the “What” question.
- Who: Who is the story about?
- What: What happened?
- When: When did it happen?
- Where: Where did it take place?
- Why: Why did this happen?
Before you start writing about an event or story, make sure that you understand what is happening and how it happened. You need to figure out the who, what, when, where and why of the story. You can do this by conducting good, in-person interviews with witnesses, experts and eyewitnesses of the event you are writing about.
List the important facts about your story. What makes this newsworthy to readers? Do you have any breaking details or hints of drama in your piece?
List possible interviewees for your article. You’ll want to include different people who could provide different perspectives on the topic if at all possible. For example, if you are writing an article about a new community centre opening in your neighbourhood, you will want to include the director of the community centre and other people who live in your area.
A good outline should be a short paragraph or a number of points that describes what you plan on writing about and how you intend to structure it. You should include information such as the topic, who you will be interviewing and what your article will include.
Now it’s time to put everything you’ve learned into practice! Make sure that your article flows well and is free of spelling or grammar errors before moving on to the next step. The most important thing here is to make sure you don’t miss anything, so make sure to read over your story a few times before proceeding further.
Once you have your facts straight about your article topic, it’s time to include quotes from people that were actually there and saw what happened. Try to use quotes that best describe the event in order to paint a vivid picture.
This is where you will include any additional information that you have found about your article topic during your research. You can also use this space to talk about various statistics related to the topic, for example how many people died because of the cause of your story or what cities are most affected by the event or issue.
This is an important part of how to write a news story because if you read it out loud, you can catch any mistakes that may have slipped through in your writing process. No matter how great the rest of your article was written, if there are typos or grammatical errors, it will probably be rejected by the news website that you’re submitting your article to.
Get someone else to review your article. This could be a co-worker, a proofreading service , or a friend that you feel would have useful input into the story and how it is presented. Let them know what kind of feedback you are looking for and that you would appreciate their input. You can also request feedback from your teacher or professor if you are submitting the article for class.
Check over your article once more to make sure it is free of errors before publishing it.
General tips for writing an “A” grade newspaper article:
- Avoid flowery language, long sentences and big words…write as you would speak to someone
- Include quotes from eyewitnesses and people who are part of the story
- Proofread your article several times or have a friend check it for grammar or spelling mistakes
- Double check that you have spelled names correctly in your article. If possible, use a name in a quote to ensure you spell it right. If not, call the person and ask them to spell their name for you.
- Include a relevant picture of the people involved, not just the location (a picture of the car that was stolen or even of a person with a quote about how they feel.)
- Timelines are important in news writing – include them!
Create a news story based on this scenario: The town where you live has recently found a new source of water. People have been asking where the water came from, so you decided to investigate. You discovered that after years without rain or snow, the town’s reservoirs dried up and were not able to provide enough fresh water for people to drink. After a few dry wells, residents began digging their own wells until a nearby farmer hit water.
Do you need help writing a news article assignment? Click here to ask for news story assignment writing help by professional journalists and college paper writing help instructors.
What are your thoughts on how to write a news article for school assignment?
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How to Write an Article for a Newspaper: A Step-by-Step Guide
By: Author Paul Jenkins
Posted on June 15, 2023
Newspaper articles are essential to journalism, providing readers with the latest news and information on various topics. Writing a newspaper article is not like writing any other informative article. It requires a specific format, style, and tone of voice.
If you are interested in writing a newspaper article, this article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to write an article for a newspaper.
Understanding Newspaper Articles:
Before you start writing a newspaper article, it is essential to understand the basic structure of a newspaper article. A newspaper article has a headline, byline, lead paragraph, body, and conclusion. Each section of a newspaper article serves a specific purpose, and knowing how to write each section effectively is essential. In addition, it is essential to understand the difference between a news article and an opinion piece, as they require different writing styles.
Preparing to Write:
Once you understand the structure and purpose of a newspaper article, it is time to prepare to write. This involves researching the topic, gathering information, and interviewing sources. It is essential to have at least two to three primary sources for your article and to contact them as far in advance as possible. This will make arranging interviews with them easier.
- Understanding the basic structure of a newspaper article is essential before writing one.
- Preparation is key when writing a newspaper article, including researching the topic and gathering information.
- Writing a newspaper article requires a specific format, style, and tone of voice; knowing the difference between a news article and an opinion piece is essential.
Understanding Newspaper Articles
Definition of newspaper articles.
Newspaper articles are written pieces of information reporting current events or issues. They are published in newspapers and are meant to inform readers about what is happening in the world around them.
The purpose of a newspaper article is to provide factual information in an objective and unbiased manner.
Newspaper articles are typically organized in a specific format, with a headline, a lead paragraph, and the body of the article. The headline is a short, attention-grabbing statement summarizing the article’s main point.
The lead paragraph, or lede, is the article’s opening paragraph, which provides the most important information and sets the tone for the rest of the article.
Types of Newspaper Articles
There are several newspaper articles, each with its purpose and style. Some common types of newspaper articles include:
- News articles: These articles report on current events and are meant to inform readers about what is happening around them. News articles are typically written in a straightforward, objective style.
- Feature articles: These articles are longer and more in-depth than news articles. They focus on a specific topic or issue and provide more background information and analysis. Feature articles are often written in a more narrative style and may include quotes from experts or people involved in the story.
- Opinion articles express the author’s opinion on a specific topic or issue. Columnists or editorial writers often write opinion articles to provide a perspective on the news.
- Reviews: These articles critically evaluate a book, movie, or other cultural product. Reviews are often written by critics and are meant to inform readers about the quality of the product.
In conclusion, understanding the different types of newspaper articles and their purpose is essential for writing a good article. By following a newspaper article’s basic structure and style, writers can effectively inform and engage readers with their stories.
Preparing to Write
Before starting to write a news article, one needs to prepare themselves. This section will cover the three essential sub-sections of preparing to write: researching the topic, identifying the target audience, and outlining the article.
Researching the Topic
The first step in preparing to write a news article is researching the topic. Journalists must gather information from primary and secondary sources to write a credible, well-structured article.
Primary sources are documents or objects created during the event or by someone with direct knowledge, such as interviews, letters, or audio recordings. Secondary sources analyze, interpret, or comment on primary sources, such as books, articles, and reviews.
When researching the topic, it is essential to identify the main points and background information. Journalists must present facts and avoid expressing personal opinions. They should also cite their sources and verify the accuracy of the information.
Identifying the Target Audience
The next step is identifying the target audience. Journalists need to know who their readers are to write an article that is relevant and interesting to them. They should consider the reader’s age, gender, education level, and interests.
For example, if the target audience is teenagers, the article should use simple words, short sentences, and examples that are relevant to their lives. If the target audience is professionals, the article should use technical terms and provide relevant details to their field.
Outlining the Article
The final step is outlining the article. The outline should include a headline, a lead paragraph, and subheadings. The headline should be catchy and summarize the article’s main point. The lead paragraph should provide background information and answer the story’s 5Ws and 1H (who, what, when, where, why, and how).
Subheadings should be used to break up the article into sections and make it easier to read. Each section should have a topic sentence that summarizes the section’s main point. Journalists should use complete sentences and avoid using jargon or technical terms that the reader may not understand.
In conclusion, preparing a news article is essential to writing a well-structured and credible article. Journalists should research the topic, identify the target audience, and outline the article to make it relevant and interesting to their readers.
Writing the Article
Crafting a news article for a newspaper requires a structured approach that ensures the article is informative, engaging, and easy to read. Writing involves crafting a lead paragraph, developing the body, and writing the conclusion.
Crafting the Lead Paragraph
The lead paragraph is the most critical part of a news story. It should grab the reader’s attention and summarize the article’s main points. A good lead paragraph should be concise, engaging, and informative. It should answer the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Journalists should start with a topic sentence summarizing the article’s main point to craft a good lead paragraph. They should then provide background information, using secondary sources to support their claims. The lead paragraph should be written in short, complete sentences that are easy to understand.
Developing the Body
The body of a news article should provide details, examples, and personal opinions that support the article’s main point. Journalists should use English effectively, choosing strong verbs and avoiding passive voice. They should also use citations to support their claims and avoid plagiarism.
To develop the body of a news article, journalists should start with a clear topic sentence that introduces the paragraph’s main point. They should then provide details and examples that support the topic sentence. Journalists should use short sentences and avoid using complex words that may confuse the reader.
Writing the Conclusion
The conclusion of a news article should summarize the article’s main points and provide a personal opinion or call to action. Journalists should use the conclusion to tie together the article’s main points and give the reader a clear understanding of the topic.
Journalists should start with a topic sentence summarizing the article’s main points to write a good conclusion. They should then provide a personal opinion or call to action that encourages the reader to take action or further research the topic. The conclusion should be written in short, complete sentences that are easy to understand.
In conclusion, writing a news article for a newspaper requires a structured approach that ensures the article is informative, engaging, and easy to read. Journalists can create articles that inform and engage readers by crafting a lead paragraph, developing the body, and writing the conclusion.
Polishing the Article
Editing and revising.
After completing the article’s first draft, editing and revising it to make it more polished is essential. Editing involves checking the article for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. The writer should also ensure that the article flows smoothly and that the sentences are clear and concise.
On the other hand, revising involves changing the article’s content. The writer should evaluate the article’s structure and organization and ensure it is easy to read and understand. They should also remove any repetitive or irrelevant information and focus on the essential points.
Fact-Checking and Citations
Fact-checking is an essential part of writing an article for a newspaper. The writer should ensure that all the information in the article is accurate and factual. They should also verify the sources of information to ensure that they are reliable and trustworthy.
Citations are also crucial in article writing. The writer should give credit to their sources of information by citing them appropriately. This adds credibility to the article and helps readers find the sources to read more about the topic.
When citing sources, the writer should follow the guidelines provided by the newspaper or publication. They should also use the correct citation style, such as APA or MLA.
In conclusion, polishing an article involves editing, revising, fact-checking, and citing sources. By following these steps, the writer can ensure that their article is well-written, accurate, and credible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph of a newspaper article.
The first paragraph of a news article is crucial because it sets the tone for the entire piece and determines whether the reader will continue reading.
To grab the reader’s attention, start with a strong lead summarizing the most important information engagingly. Use vivid language and descriptive details to create a sense of urgency and intrigue.
What are the essential elements of a news story?
A news story should include the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. It should also answer the H question: how. In addition, a news story should be objective, accurate, and timely. It should provide context and background information to help readers understand the significance of the events being reported.
How do you write a compelling headline for a newspaper article?
A good headline should be concise, informative, and attention-grabbing. It should accurately reflect the article’s content and entice the reader to want to learn more. Use active verbs and strong language to create a sense of urgency and importance. Avoid using puns or wordplay that might confuse or distract the reader.
What are some tips for conducting effective research for a newspaper article?
To conduct effective research for a news article, start by identifying reliable sources of information. These might include government websites, academic journals, and interviews with experts or eyewitnesses.
Be sure to fact-check all information and verify the credibility of your sources. Organize your notes and keep track of your sources to make it easier to write the article later.
How do you structure the body of a newspaper article?
The body of a newspaper article should be organized in a logical and easy-to-follow way. Start with the most important information and work down to the details.
Use short paragraphs and subheadings to break up the text and make it easier to read. Include quotes from sources to provide additional perspectives and insights.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a newspaper article?
Some common mistakes to avoid when writing a news article include using biased language, making assumptions, and including irrelevant or inaccurate information. It’s important to remain objective and stick to the facts.
Avoid sensationalizing the story or injecting your opinions or biases into the article. Finally, proofread your work carefully for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
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How to Use Obsidian for Writing and Productivity
I'm pretty bad at being an employee. I openly despise meetings, I say exactly what's on my mind, and I sincerely believe that many managers exist only to waste the time of otherwise productive people. I also could not be less interested in how my work impacts quarterly projections—I want to write things that people find helpful and entertaining.
So, yeah, I'm a freelancer.
I write for five publications, including the one you're reading now (obviously my favorite). The upside: I'm never in meetings. The downside: There's a lot to keep track of. I have to manage relationships with five editors. It's a challenge, and I've tried a full array of systems over the years, from spreadsheets to index cards, apps like Trello , and way too many to-do list apps.
None of them quite did the trick, until I discovered Obsidian a couple of years ago. This application has slowly gone from being a weird app I didn't understand to one I can't imagine functioning without. It's where I do all of my writing, yes, but also how I keep track of my ongoing articles as they move from brainstorming to pitching to publication.
This isn't a review of Obsidian ( I already wrote one ). This is an outline of how I use this tool to get things done. Hopefully reading it gives you some ideas for how you could use it.
First of all, what is Obsidian? The application bills itself as a "second brain," but you could it put in the same category as note-taking apps like OneNote or Evernote. Unlike those applications, though, Obsidian stores everything—notes, attachments, and even plugins—as simple text documents in a folder on your computer. This means you can use the application fully offline or sync the documents using the cloud storage service of your choice.
This has a few advantages. For one, your files are fully in your control: If Obsidian stopped existing tomorrow, I would still have access to my notes. For another, everything works offline. My favorite thing about Obsidian, though, is the extensive plugin ecosystem. There are over a thousand Obsidian plugins , and I depend on several of them. There's Kanban , which allows you to create a board of cards you can move between tiles. There's Extract URL , which can grab all text from any website and turn it into a note. I could list plugins for a long time. But the point is that you can customize Obsidian to work basically any way you want it to. I've done this to create a perfect setup for my workflow—one that allows me to do my planning and my actual writing in the same application.
My writing process has a progression: brainstorming ideas, pitching those ideas to editors, researching, writing, editing, and invoicing. Here's how I move through these steps in Obsidian.
Every article starts with an idea. I get these from all kinds of places. Sometimes I'm just using my computer, notice something that annoys me, endlessly research a solution to that issue, and then decide to write about it. Sometimes I notice a cool-looking app while reading the news or browsing Reddit. And sometimes I just spend a few hours brainstorming ideas. Whatever the case, I compile my ideas in a dedicated Kanban board on Obsidian. Every card on the board links to a dedicated document where I include any relevant links, expand on the idea, and note a bit about possible angles for the article.
When it comes time to take these ideas into the world, I decide which ones I'm going to pitch to which editors and drag them to a column for that publication. If the pitch is approved, I drag the card over to my "article queue" board, if not, I consider pitching it to another publication or put it in my "idea jail" to potentially revisit later.
I like this system because it allows me to slowly collect ideas throughout the month. That way, when it comes time to pitch, I'm not starting from scratch.
The core of my workflow is the "article queue" Kanban board, which basically contains every article I'm working on in the current month. I have a column for every step of the editorial process—writing, waiting on edits, editing, edited but not invoiced, invoiced but not paid, and paid. I drag articles from left to right.
I live by this board. Every work day I log in, look at how far along I am with every article, and decide what to work on. The board also means I never forget to follow up with editors who might have forgotten to email me feedback, or to follow up on unpaid invoices. I sincerely don't know how I functioned before I had this.
Even better, this isn't just a project management system: It's also the app where I do my writing. I can click any of these cards and start writing, right away. I can't overstate how helpful it is to not have to use one application for project management and another for the writing itself.
Obsidian is a great place for writing. Formatting is handled by Markdown , a simple way to apply formatting—for example, to bold text you surround it with two asterisks, **like this**. I've done all of my writing in Markdown for a long time, so this is perfect for me.
Some Markdown editors use two panels—one where you write, with the formatting “code” visible, and another where you preview how the text will look. Obsidian doesn't do this, opting to render the Markdown in real time as you type. This is a perfect compromise—it gives me the benefit of writing in Markdown without the downside of my text editor looking ugly as sin. This is a feature I first saw in an app called Typora , and I'm glad it works here too.
I write a lot of tech tutorials, and I generally start by collecting screenshots for every step. I put all of the screenshots, in order, in a document in Obsidian, along with all of the relevant links. If I'm doing a reported piece, I gather my research and interviews in separate documents, then compile the best quotes and tidbits into the document where I'll do my writing. Obsidian offers an internal linking feature—it can basically function as a private wiki—and I use this to connect all of my interviews and other research to my article for tracking purposes. It's possible to view multiple documents in the same window, a feature I use all the time.
The Canvas feature, which is relatively new, offers a way to arrange and edit multiple documents in the same place—I personally don't use this, but I can see the appeal of dragging documents wherever you like and editing them all in one interface.
Obsidian doesn't really have any collaboration features, and even if it did my editors don't use it. That's why I use a plugin called Copy as HTML to copy a rich text version of my article. I paste this into a Google Doc, which renders it as formatted text, complete with images. I share this with my editors, all of whom use comments and track changes to give me feedback.
That, in a nutshell, is how I manage to pitch, write, and track 15 to 20 articles between five different editors every month. It's a lot of work, granted, but I enjoy it. And this workflow makes it all feel manageable.
I can't imagine that this exact process would work for most of you, and that's not the point. Obsidian is useful because you can adapt it to almost any workflow, no matter how specific your needs are. I spent a lot of time customizing everything so it works just so; you can do the same thing. Other apps try to get you to adapt to a particular way of working. Obsidian, if you put the time in, will adapt to you.
WIRED has teamed up with Jobbio to create WIRED Hired , a dedicated career marketplace for WIRED readers. Companies who want to advertise their jobs can visit WIRED Hired to post open roles, while anyone can search and apply for thousands of career opportunities. Jobbio is not involved with this story or any editorial content.
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ChatGPT Cheat Sheet: Complete Guide for 2023
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Get up and running with ChatGPT with this comprehensive cheat sheet. Learn everything from how to sign up for free to enterprise use cases, and start using ChatGPT quickly and effectively.
ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly users in January, according to a UBS report , making it the fastest-growing consumer app in history. The business world is interested in ChatGPT too, trying to find uses for the writing AI throughout many different industries. This cheat sheet includes answers to the most common questions about ChatGPT and its competitors.
What is ChatGPT?
Who made chatgpt, how much does chatgpt cost, how to use chatgpt, chatgpt updates and openai api news, criticisms and security issues.
- What are ChatGPT’s competitors?
The future of AI in business
- What’s next for OpenAI?
ChatGPT is an AI chatbot product developed by OpenAI. ChatGPT is built on the structure of GPT-4 . GPT stands for generative pre-trained transformer; this indicates it is a large language model that checks for the probability of what words might come next in sequence. A large language model is a deep learning algorithm — a type of transformer model in which a neural network learns context about any language pattern. That might be a spoken language or a computer programming language.
The model doesn’t “know” what it’s saying, but it does know what symbols (words) are likely to come after one another based on the data set it was trained on. The current generation of artificial intelligence chatbots, such as ChatGPT, its Google rival Bard and others, don’t really make intelligently informed decisions; instead, they’re the internet’s parrots, repeating words that are likely to be found next to one another in the course of natural speech. The underlying math is all about probability. The companies that make and use them pitch them as productivity genies, creating text in a matter of seconds that would take a person hours or days to produce.
In ChatGPT’s case, that data set is a large portion of the internet. From there, humans give feedback on the AI’s output to confirm whether the words it uses sound natural.
The public version of ChatGPT can call on current events information as recent as January 2022. ChatGPT Plus can call on current events information as recent as April.
In August OpenAI launched a GPTBot, a web crawler meant to expand ChatGPT’s knowledge. Technical details and ways to keep GPTBot from crawling a website you run can both be found here .
SEE: OpenAI’s probability assessments were trained on Microsoft’s Azure AI supercomputer. (TechRepublic)
Several organizations have built this ability to answer questions into some of their software features too. Microsoft, which provides funding for OpenAI, rolled out ChatGPT in Bing search and in Microsoft 365 . Salesforce has added ChatGPT to some of its CRM platforms in the form of the Einstein digital assistant.
ChatGPT was built by OpenAI, a research laboratory with both nonprofit and for-profit branches. At the time of its founding in 2015, OpenAI received funding from Amazon Web Services, InfoSys and YC Research and investors including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. Musk has since cut ties with the company, while Microsoft provided $10 billion in funding for OpenAI in 2023.
The base version of ChatGPT can strike up a conversation with you for free. For $20 per month, ChatGPT Plus gives subscribers priority access in individual instances, faster response times and the chance to use new features and improvements first. For example, right now ChatGPT Plus subscribers will be running GPT-4, while anyone on the free tier will talk to GPT-3.5.
For developers and organizations who don’t already have a specific contract with OpenAI, there is a waitlist for access to the ChatGPT API.
In August, OpenAI launched ChatGPT Enterprise , a subscription plan for business with more security enhancements and admin controls compared to the basic version. Organizations interested in pricing for ChatGPT Enterprise can contact OpenAI’s sales team.
It’s easy to use the free version of ChatGPT. You need to sign up for an account with OpenAI , which involves fetching a confirmation code from your email; from there, click through and provide your name and phone number. OpenAI will warn you that the free version of ChatGPT is “a free research preview.” For the Plus version, you’ll see an “upgrade to Plus” button on the left side of the home page.
New signups or account upgrades for ChatGPT Plus were paused on Nov. 14. “The surge in usage post devday has exceeded our capacity and we want to make sure everyone has a great experience,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman wrote on X (the social media site formerly known as Twitter). To be notified when signups and account upgrades are available again, sign up to be alerted on the ChatGPT mobile app.
For businesses, ChatGPT can write and debug code, as well as create reports, presentations, emails and websites. In general, ChatGPT can draft the kind of prose you’d likely use for work (“Write an email accepting an invitation to speak at a cybersecurity conference.”). ChatGPT can answer questions (“What are similar books to [xyz]?”) as well. Microsoft showed off these features in its announcement that OpenAI is coming to Word and some other parts of the 365 business suite .
ChatGPT has historically not ‘remembered’ information from one conversation to another. However, starting on July 20, ChatGPT Plus members can use a feature called custom instructions to make sure the AI remembers certain things about them. For example, it can remember a specific user tends to want content for a business audience, or, conversely, for third graders. It is not available in the UK and EU.
ChatGPT app for iOS
On May 18, OpenAI announced the launch of the free ChatGPT app for iOS . The company stated the app syncs your history across devices, and that it integrates with its open-source speech-recognition system Whisper. On the iOS app, OpenAI said ChatGPT Plus subscribers get exclusive access to GPT-4’s capabilities, early access to features and faster response times.
OpenAI started this rollout in the U.S. As of May 24 it expanded to 11 more countries — Albania, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Jamaica, Korea, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and the UK, with more expected to follow.
ChatGPT app for Android
ChatGPT for Android dropped on July 25 for users in the US, India, Bangladesh, and Brazil. Android users in those countries can download the app through the Google Play Store now. Additional countries gained access over the following week, OpenAI said .
Browse with Bing
ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise subscribers can use ChatGPT to answer questions using the Bing search engine. Browsing was brought out of beta on October 17.
To access Bing in ChatGPT, subscribing customers can choose Browse with Bing in the selector under GPT-4. OpenAI expects to expand internet browsing to all users at a later date.
Browse with Bing was disabled on July 3 out of “an abundance of caution,” OpenAI wrote, and reinstated in beta on Sept. 27. OpenAI has since added “updates include following robots.txt and identifying user agents so sites can control how ChatGPT interacts with them.”
Voice and image capabilities
On Nov. 21, ChatGPT Voice was released for all users. This feature allows users to ask questions out loud and for ChatGPT to reply in the same way.
Subscribers to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise first reported new voice and image capabilities rolling out in late October.
The ability to use Tools without switching is an important step toward multimodality, in which GPT-4 can automatically access DALL-E 3 to analyze or create images without a manual switch. Text-based queries will be able to result in images and vice versa. OpenAI expects to expand these capabilities to developers and other groups of users “soon after” the October release for Plus and Enterprise users.
OpenAI continues to update ChatGPT and its other services with developer-focused changes.
OpenAI’s bug bounty program
OpenAI started a bug bounty program on April 12, offering between $200 and $20,000 to ethical hackers who find vulnerabilities in the code. More critical vulnerabilities net larger bounties.
OpenAI isn’t looking for solutions to problems with ChatGPT’s content (e.g., the known “hallucinations”); instead, the organization wants hackers to report authentication issues, data exposure, payments issues, security issues with the plugin creation system and more. Details about the bug bounty program can be found on Bugcrowd .
Web browsing and plugins
GPTPlus users gained access to a beta version of web browsing and Plugins on the week of May 12. The beta includes web browsing mode, in which ChatGPT will sometimes access the internet to pull in information about current events.
Secondly, the beta version of ChatGPT will call on third-party plugins at the appropriate times if the user enables them. Third-party plugins can be accessed in the Plugin Store under Plugins in the model switcher. This opens ChatGPT up to more than 70 third-party plugins.
June 2023 API and pricing updates
On June 13, OpenAI added function calling to the Chat Completions API; reduced the price of their embeddings model (which helps the model interpret tokens); and reduced the price of input tokens for GPT-3.5 -turbo, one of the subscription models for the GPT 3.5 model.
With function calling, developers can describe functions to GPT-4 or GPT-3.5 turbo and the AI will return a JSON object which can call those functions. This could be used to create chatbot tools that call external plugins, convert natural language into database queries or API calls, or extract structured data from text.
Other announcements from OpenAI’s June 13 blog post include:
- updated and more steerable versions of GPT-4 and GPT-3.5-turbo
- new 16K context version of GPT-3.5-turbo (compared to the standard 4Kversion)
- Applications using GPT-3.5-turbo, GPT-4, and GPT-4-32K will automatically be upgraded to new models on June 27th.
On July 6, OpenAI made ChatGPT’s code interpreter function available to all ChatGPT Plus users. The Code interpreter is an in-house plug-in with which ChatGPT can run code to analyze data, solve math problems, create charts, edit files, and similar tasks. It functions using a Python interpreter in a sandboxed, firewalled execution environment in a persistent session the length of the chat conversation, OpenAI said in their blog post .
Code interpreter is available in beta by taking the following steps in a ChatGPT Plus account:
Click on your name
Select beta features from your settings
- Toggle on the beta features you’d like to try.
On Nov. 6, OpenAI released GPT-4 Turbo and GPTs, custom versions of ChatGPT that can be built for specific tasks, for ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise users. GPTs do not require any knowledge of coding to create; instead, users can have a natural language conversation with generative AI to create them. Developers can define custom actions for GPTs by making one or more APIs available to the GPT. Enterprise customers can share GPTs within their organizations.
Later in November, creators will be able to promote and sell GPTs on the GPT Store.
With more and more organizations adopting generative AI, many questions arise. Will AI be able to fill jobs currently held by humans? What privacy and ethical concerns does it raise? These questions apply to both ChatGPT and its competitors, since any generative AI can perform similar tasks.
Will ChatGPT result in people losing jobs?
Whether ChatGPT will take jobs away from humans is impossible to predict. Goldman Sachs says in an April report that a quarter to a half of humans’ workloads could be automated with generative AI. The financial institution notes that doesn’t necessarily mean those jobs will disappear – instead, most will be “only partially exposed to automation” – and it may lead to up to a 7% increase in global GDP.
Roles that are repetitive or based on very specific rules are most likely to be able to be performed by AI, Steven Miller, professor emeritus of information systems at Singapore Management University, told CNBC .
ChatGPT could lead to new job roles being created, too. At the very least, people will be needed to prompt, train and audit AI like ChatGPT. Most likely, we’ll see the kind of shuffle that comes with any major technological shift as some jobs change and others do not.
Some experts refer to the current wave of AI as similar to the early days of the internet . Technological limitations still exist, and some estimations about how many jobs would be lost through automation have proven exaggerated in the past . The IEEE points out that the AI industry will need to be aware of hardware limitations and costs. Companies may not find it practical to spend enough money on AI services in order to replace a large percentage of their workforce. Paying users of ChatGPT can make a maximum of 25 GPT-4 queries every three hours, IEEE points out.
In some jobs, the AI may remove the need for a first draft, MIT labor economics professor David Autor said in an interview with CBS MoneyWatch . A human will need to tweak the output and give in a unique angle or more varied wording, but ChatGPT could write the bare bones version of a speech or a blog post.
SEE: How ChatGPT could enhance jobs instead of replacing them. (TechRepublic)
Ethical and privacy concerns about ChatGPT
Perhaps inspired by science fiction about AI taking over the earth, some high-profile players in tech urge caution about giving AI too much free rein. On March 22, a petition and open letter signed by Elon Musk and many others urged companies to pause large AI development until more safeguards can be built in.
Ethics questions to ask when using generative AI
ChatGPT opens up questions about the ethics of using written content created by the algorithm. Posts created by AI should be clearly marked as such, but what about more casual communication such as emails? Business leaders should establish guidelines for when to be transparent about the use of ChatGPT or other AI at work.
OpenAI cautions that its products are not to be used for decisions in law enforcement or global politics . Privacy, which is perhaps a more pressing concern than global domination, led Italy to ban ChatGPT . OpenAI has since stated it wants to find a way to let ChatGPT work within the European Union’s strict privacy rules.
OpenAI’s new privacy update allows users to exclude themselves from training data
On April 25, OpenAI announced it has added a Chat History & Training setting that lets users turn off their ChatGPT chat history, preventing future versions of OpenAI’s large language models from training on those conversations. To find this option, click on your account name, which will display as your email address. Select Settings > Data Controls > Chat History & Training.
As of now, if this setting is not selected, user data will be fed back into the AI to train it on producing more naturalistic and useful responses.
OpenAI filters out personally identifiable information from the training data, OpenAI told Bloomberg . As of April 2023, users can download a copy of their ChatGPT chats and see what training data they have produced. In ChatGPT Enterprise, users’ data is used to train other OpenAI products.
On Nov. 6, OpenAI announced Copyright Shield. Copyright Shield is a guarantee that if someone files legal claims around copyright infringement against content created by users of ChatGPT Enterprise or OpenAI’s developer platform, OpenAI will costs incurred.
Malicious uses of generative AI
Another potential problem comes from people using generative AI like ChatGPT to draft business email compromise messages or other attacks. Threat actors have created WormGPT , an application specifically for drafting malicious emails and customizing them to the prospective victims. Email security company SlashNext discovered WormGPT being used on black hat forums. WormGPT doesn’t actually share any genes with OpenAI’s ChatGPT; instead, the threat-oriented AI is based on GPT-J, a large language model from EleutherAI .
Training data extracted with ‘poem’ exploit
On Nov. 28, security researchers from Google DeepMind found that adversarial actors could extract training data, including personal information, from ChatGPT using a flaw based on extractable memorization. The paper, published as a PDF on arXiv , shows that the researchers could trick the chatbot into revealing its raw training data. One way to do so was to ask ChatGPT to repeat the word ‘poem’ forever. This would result in the chatbot eventually diverging from the task and generating random content, or, in some cases, generating the exact data the generative AI was trained on.
“The actual attack is kind of silly,” the researchers wrote, referring to the endless poem prompt. However, they warn that the consequences could be quite serious, with the attack circumventing ChatGPT’s privacy safeguards.
What are ChatGPT’s competitors?
ChatGPT’s primary competitors are or could be Google’s Bard , Baidu’s Ernie, DeepMind’s Sparrow and Meta’s BlenderBot .
ChatGPT’s main competitor is Bard, Google’s AI generative AI chatbot. People who would like to try Bard’s chat function need to join a waitlist .
Now Google plans to add Bard into search. In comparison to ChatGPT , Bard focuses more on creating prose that sounds like a human could have spoken it naturally and less on being able to answer any question. Bard is built on Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications.
While Microsoft is ahead of the pack right now (as of summer 2023) in terms of providing chat functions to productivity software, the company lags behind in terms of its search engine Bing. Google decision-makers allegedly pivoted to urgently roll out a competitor for Microsoft’s decision to add generative AI to Bing search. (Meanwhile, ChatGPT helped Bing reach 100 million daily users. )
The Chinese search engine Baidu plans to add a chatbot called Ernie. Baidu announced the upcoming change on March 16, at which point the initial showing disappointed investors .
OpenAI competes with DeepMind, an artificial intelligence research laboratory owned by Alphabet. The two organizations are significantly different in terms of their aims. DeepMind focuses more on research and has not yet come out with a public-facing chatbot. DeepMind does have Sparrow, a chatbot designed specifically to help AI communicate in a way that is “ helpful, correct and harmless .” DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis told The Independent in January that DeepMind may release a private beta version of Sparrow later in 2023.
Meta’s Llama 2 and BlenderBot
Meta released BlenderBot in August 2022. The prototype BlenderBot from the company behind Facebook focuses on being able to chat, providing short, conversational replies rather than full paragraphs.
Meta also has Llama 2 , a foundational model competitive with the GPT-4 engine behind ChatGPT.
Anthropic’s Claude 2
Claude 2 is a generative AI assistant released in July. Anthropic describes it as “a friendly, enthusiastic colleague or personal assistant who can be instructed in natural language.”
Elon Musk’s AI company X.ai , which includes developers with prior experience at OpenAI and DeepMind among other AI companies, released a chatbot called Grok in November. Grok was trained on the X social media platform (formerly Twitter) and “is designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak,” X.ai wrote on Nov. 4.
What about Apple?
According to The New York Times , Apple is working on leveraging the tech it has, especially Siri, to create a ChatGPT rival. More information about what the final product might look like is thin on the ground for now.
Will ChatGPT be common in online products in the future or is it a technological innovation forever in search of a greater use case? Today its “intelligence” is clearly still in the beginning stages, with OpenAI including disclaimers about inappropriate content or incorrect “hallucinations.” ChatGPT may put the words in a coherent order, but it won’t necessarily keep the facts straight.
GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 may also be getting worse at math . An August report from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley noted this “drift,” or gradual erosion of the ability to perform tasks like identifying prime numbers. Their theories as to why it’s happening include reduced ability to follow chain-of-thought (or, roughly, step-by-step) instructions.
In July, two MIT economics graduate students conducted a study of 453 professionals. They found that people who used ChatGPT for writing tasks – such as producing press releases, short reports, or analysis plans – took 40% less time to finish their tasks than a control group that was not encouraged to use the generative AI. These professionals were then scored by their peers. On average, they received grades 18% higher than those in the control group (who did not use AI). This provides some qualitative data on the effect ChatGPT could have on white-collar work.
“Participants with weaker skills benefited the most from ChatGPT, which carries policy implications for efforts to reduce productivity inequality through AI,” wrote the authors of the study, Shakked Noy and Whitney Zhang.
Overall, Noy and Zhang maintained that widespread use of ChatGPT for writing tasks could have both positive and negative impacts in the workplace and the labor market.
Meanwhile, AI announcements that go viral can be good or bad news for investors. Microsoft’s stock price rose after the announcement of GPT-4, while Google’s stock dropped when Bard performed badly in a demonstration.
OpenAI saw visitor numbers to the ChatGPT website drop for the first time since its release in November 2022 this June. According to Similarweb , worldwide unique visitors dropped 5.7% from May to June. Global desktop and mobile web traffic dropped 9.7%. ChatGPT still receives more worldwide visitors than Microsoft’s in-house AI at Bing.com. The shine may have worn off chat AI, although it’s too early to tell whether the business world will also start to cool on this trendy technology.
What’s next for OpenAI?
For now, OpenAI says it isn’t training GPT-5, the likely successor to today’s model. In a talk at MIT reported on by The Verge , OpenAI CEO Sam Altman pushed back against the open letter – an earlier draft of which had stated that a 5th generation was on the way; primarily, he criticized the letter’s lack of technical specificity.
“We are doing other things on top of GPT-4 that I think have all sorts of safety issues that are important to address and were totally left out of the letter,” Altman said.
He said no one should expect to see a GPT-5 rollout “for some time.”
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Santos, now booted from the House, got elected as a master of duplicity – here’s how it worked
Assistant Professor, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia
David E. Clementson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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U.S. Rep. George Santos, a Republican from New York, was expelled on Dec. 1, 2023 from Congress for doing what most people think all politicians do all the time : lying.
Santos lied about his religion , marital status , business background , grandparents , college , high school , sports-playing , income and campaign donation expenditures .
Santos’ fellow members of Congress – a professional class stereotypically considered by the public to be littered with serial liars – apparently consider Santos peerless and are kicking him out of their midst on a 311-114 vote, with two members voting present .
How could a politician engage in such large-scale deception and get elected? What could stop it from happening again, as politicians seem to be growing more unapologetically deceptive while evading voters’ scrutiny?
Santos’ success demonstrates a mastery of something more than just pathological lying. He managed to campaign in a district close to the media microscope of New York City, in one of the richest districts in the state, and get elected and stay in office for a year, despite making a mockery of any semblance of honesty .
I am a scholar of political deception . Experiments I conducted have revealed how the trustworthiness of politicians is judged almost entirely from perceptions of their demeanor, not the words they utter.
Misleading with a smile
I have found that voters are drawn in by politicians’ demeanor cues, which are forms of body language and nonverbal communication that signal honesty or dishonesty and yet have no relationship to actual honesty. For example, looking nervous and fidgety or appearing confident and composed are demeanor cues, which give impressions of a politician’s sincerity and believability. Someone’s demeanor cues might signal that they are trustworthy when they’re actually lying, or could signal lying in someone who is actually telling the truth.
The most authoritative index of demeanor cues that affect people’s perceptions of honesty and deception was developed by Tim Levine , a professor of communication at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Demeanor cues that convey sincerity and honesty include appearing confident and composed; having a pleasant, friendly, engaged and involved interaction style; and giving plausible explanations.
The insincere/dishonest demeanor cues include avoiding eye contact, appearing hesitant and slow in providing answers, vocal uncertainty in tone of voice, excessive fidgeting with hands or foot movements, and appearing tense, nervous or anxious.
Empirical research has long revealed that voters are overwhelmingly influenced by politicians’ nonverbal communication . In one experiment , participants were shown 10-second clips of unfamiliar gubernatorial debates. The participants were asked to predict who won the election.
Participants who saw muted 10-second clips – making their judgments solely on nonverbal cues – were able to predict which candidate would go on to win. But those who watched the video with the sound were no better at picking the winner than if they picked randomly without ever watching or listening to anything. Voters make their judgments of a politician’s competence , it turns out, based on a 1-second glance at the politician’s face.
Another study also found that politicians’ facial expressions have the power to move us, literally: People watching clips of Ronald Reagan looking friendly adjusted their facial muscles accordingly and mimicked his smile, and people watching clips of Reagan looking angry tended to furrow their brow, too.
How Santos does it
Santos speaks with certitude . He has a charming, friendly and interactive manner – all sincere demeanor cues. He makes intense eye contact without fidgeting. He dresses well and is pleasant looking.
He was able to make up lies out of whole cloth and have them believed – a feat rarely accomplished by liars. He exudes confidence .
Santos dresses with sartorial elegance. He wears chic eyeglasses and sunglasses , accessorized with bright but not tacky jewelry. All this is complemented by one of his signature fleeces or sweaters , typically worn over a collared dress shirt and under a smart jacket . Santos even bought his campaign staff Brooks Brothers shirts to wear.
In my experiments , which have shown that voters base their judgment of politicians’ trustworthiness almost entirely from perceptions of demeanor, I found that Republicans are especially susceptible to demeanor cues. Republican voters will disbelieve their own honest politician if they perceive that the politician’s demeanor is insincere. But they will believe their own politician if they perceive sincerity.
Santos’ believable demeanor follows in the lineage of other con artists who could deceive absurdly yet adroitly. Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff dressed well, looked dignified, acted friendly and cordial , and his resting face was a smiling expression. The Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland also had a resting face that was a smiling, aw-shucks expression , and acted harmless and friendly.
And Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos – who became the youngest female billionaire in history – faked a deep voice, walked upright with perfect posture, smiled and conveyed unrelenting confident poise, and maintained an unblinking gaze. All this enabled her to tell lies to some of the richest, most accomplished, intelligent titans of industry .
Madoff, McFarland and Holmes could look people in the eye and steal their money – swindling largely through the same sorts of demeanor cues that Santos exhibits.
McFarland , Holmes and Santos have the ability to smile with their upper teeth showing while they are answering tough questions in interviews, which research shows exudes trustworthiness.
Fool me once …
Just because someone speaks confidently, dresses well and acts friendly does not mean the person is honest. Pay attention to what people say – the content of their verbal messaging.
Don’t fall prey to body language or seemingly sincere behavioral impressions , which actually have no correlation to actual truthfulness. As my research has shown, the appearance of sincerity is misleading. It is a myth that eye contact means someone is telling you the truth and that a roving gaze or elevated blinking means they are lying.
Some people just look honest but they are pulling the proverbial wool over your eyes. Some people look sketchy and appear unbelievable, but what they say is truthful.
Santos’ disgrace is a teachable moment for citizens. As the proverb goes: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
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Sports Illustrated accused of publishing articles written by AI
Report by Futurism finds articles written by fake authors but Arena Group says articles were commercial content
The US sports publication Sports Illustrated is embroiled in scandal after it has been accused of running articles written by artificial intelligence.
An investigative report published by the science and technology news publication Futurism found Sports Illustrated published articles written by fake authors. These fake authors also had headshots and biographies generated by artificial intelligence, Futurism’s investigation found.
For instance, one profile page of purported author “Sora Tanaka” claims she is a product reviewer. The page said: “Sora has always been a fitness guru, and loves to try different foods and drinks. Ms Tanaka is thrilled to bring her fitness and nutritional expertise to the Product Reviews Team, and promises to bring you nothing but the best of the best.”
But it turns out, Sora Tanaka is not a real person.
The Arena Group, the holding company which acquired Sports Illustrated in 2019, denies the allegations. The articles in question were commercial content sourced from third-party advertising company AdVon Commerce, the group said.
But the magazine is also facing criticism for its non-commercial articles allegedly written by AI.
One article about volleyball carried the byline of “ Drew Ortiz ”. But, like in Sora Tanaka’s case, no Drew Ortiz exists – his biography and headshot were apparently made up by AI, Futurism found.
The Ortiz article in question contained copy that said: “Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and for good reason. It’s fast-paced, has a high skill ceiling, and is generally an exciting sport to both play and watch. Even people who don’t watch sports can easily understand the intensity and skill required to play volleyball whenever they watch clips. There’s a reason why it’s been such a mainstay in modern sports to this day.”
A spokesperson for the Arena Group wrote in a statement : “Today, an article was published alleging that Sports Illustrated published AI-generated articles. According to our initial investigation, this is not accurate.
“A number of AdVon’s e-commerce articles ran on certain Arena websites. We continually monitor our partners and were in the midst of a review when these allegations were raised. AdVon has assured us that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans.”
The Arena Group announced that it cut ties with AdVon and removed its content from Arena websites. The Arena Group also said it does not condone the practice of writing under pseudonyms.
The controversy could spell trouble for the magazine’s credibility, which under past owners had won prestigious journalism prizes, including National Magazine awards.
Sports Illustrated, first published in 1954, is known as well for its swimsuit issues, often featuring covers of bikini-clad fashion models, athletes and other celebrities. But, as Futurism noted, it also once published contributions from famed writers such as William Faulkner and John Updike.
Sports Illustrated is not the only publication dabbling with AI. In January 2023, BuzzFeed’s CEO, Jonah Peretti, announced the website would integrate AI into its content and make it a part of its core business.
BuzzFeed has since published AI-written quizzes and travel guides – a practice with which the company is still experimenting.
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Such moves by Sports Illustrated and BuzzFeed stoke fears of a rise in dystopian content farms and more trouble in the already embattled, shrinking news media sector. The use of AI is cost-efficient compared to human writers and content creators, arguably offering a potential and tempting solution to the financial troubles in the industry.
Sports Illustrated has been in financial troubles for a few years now. In 2019, half of the newsroom was laid off . And earlier this year, another round of layoffs hit the magazine shortly after the Arena Group’s CEO and chairman, Ross Levinsohn, announced the company’s incorporation of AI.
In February, Levinsohn said: “While AI will never replace journalism, reporting, or crafting and editing a story, rapidly improving AI technologies can create enterprise value for our brands and partners,” Levinsohn said.
Despite being a Pulitzer prize-winning outlet, BuzzFeed News shut down in May, and 15% of its workforce was laid off.
Other news organizations such as the New York Times and NBC took a step in the opposite direction, announcing plans to create guardrails for non-human generated content and disinformation as well as protection on articles against being repurposed without credit or context.
The Guardian’s view on generative AI tools is that they are “exciting but are currently unreliable”.
In a statement , the Guardian’s editor in chief, Kath Viner, and chief executive officer, Anna Bateson, said: “There is no room for unreliability in our journalism, nor our marketing, creative and engineering work.”
The Guardian announced it would only use generative AI tools that serve the “creation and distribution of original journalism”.
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