Thomas Jefferson Journal Anatomy of a News Article
1. Headline: 1-7 Words. Make this as short and powerful as possible. It is generally best to write this after the article is done. This is your most important opportunity to catch the reader’s attention.
2. Sub-Headline: One short, complete sentence that sums up the content of the article.
3. Lead: In almost all cases you must keep this to one sentence only. A well constructed, to the point news lead is essential. Sometimes this is all the reader will have time for, so you must include all the facts here:
a. WHO is the main focus or source for this article?
b. WHAT exactly happened or is happening?
c. WHEN did this happen or is it going to happen?
d. WHERE did this or will this take place?
e. HOW did all of this come about?
f. WHY did all of this come about?
It can be fun trying to fit all of this information into one compound, complex sentence that tells almost a complete story. Be creative!
4. Body: It is important now to keep your paragraphs short, limit them to one topic, and use good transition sentences from one paragraph to the next. In the body of the article you should expand on the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN from the lead, and go into greater depth on the HOW and WHY.
5. Quotes: It is essential that you use many quotes in a news story, especially primary quotes from those who are closely involved with the story itself. Try to incorporate at least one quote per paragraph.
6. Inverted Pyramid: In print media, it is often necessary to cut the length of an article due to space issues on that page. Most editors will simply start by chopping sentences and paragraphs from the bottom of the article; therefore, that is where the least important information should be contained. It also makes sense from a practical standpoint. Many readers will not want to read an entire article, so save the minor details for the end.