Main features of Journalistic Writing
This article is an update of the first journalistic writing we discussed earlier. We have looked at various forms of journalistic writing in our previous articles and the second face of journalistic writing is intended to introduce students to the distinctive features of news story, feature, opinion columns and reviews and also to know how to find your news sources. It will aid students to fathom out the basic principles of investigative reporting and how to write them.
We will look at the types of journalistic write ups thus news stories, feature stories, reviews and opinion columns. We have already looked at these in our previous articles, this is an add up to the earlier article.
News stories are news report that are presented in a straight forward style of any lengthy without any form of editorial comment. It informs the public current happenings, events, concerns or ideas in the world. For a news report to be good, it should be able to entice audience to read it. The audience decides which news report is interesting or important. However, a great news story is both interesting and important. It is more complete and more understanding and contains more accurate information from more sources with diverse viewpoints and expertise.
A news story takes the following ways; It can be long or short, written, recorded, live or taped and hard or soft.
Long or Short
A news story can be long or short depending on its newsworthiness or interest to people who watch TV, listen to the radio or read the news paper.
Written, Recorded, Live or Taped.
A news story can be all these depending on the channel you use and the timeliness of the story. A news story is sometimes recorded thus broadcast, live as in television broadcast.
Hard or Soft
A news story can be hard when it contains all the important facts and news items. It can be soft when its attention is on the personal more human side of a news event or situation.
Elements of News
The below are the factors that determine the worthiness of a news story. There are a lot of them. In our previous articles, we did mention of the values of news and in this article, we will be explaining and looking at why these news values are necessary for your journalistic pieces.
What comes in mind when you hear of the word prominence. The state of being important, famous or noticeable is prominence. This is one of the factors that determine news worthiness. When looking for news stories, you look at the prominence of the person. Audience reads news story about popular, important and noticeable people. Well known people such as politicians and celebrities can make news, even their actions are unimportant because of the media. This is because audiences feel a personal connection with them.
For instance whenever there is a news story about a President of a particular country, you see audiences ready to read and know what it is about unlike an ordinary person or your neighbor, you will not bother to read it.
Proximity means nearness in space, time or relationship. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries explains proximity as the state of being near somebody or something in distance or time. Proximity in journalistic writing considers the location of the events that took place in relation to the target audience of the media outlet.
Audiences are likely to pay attention to stories that are close to them. Writing a story that is far away from where you are is not proximity although it might be newsworthy. Writing stories that are close to you is proximity. For example a Ghanaian news reporter reporting a murder incident in Kenya meanwhile there is a murder incident in his or her country he or she has not reported about. This will not entice your audiences to read or listen to your news story. Audiences normally want to know what is going on in their country or community.
A news story is more newsworthy the sooner it is reported. We earlier said a news story is a news report that talks about current issues. A news story is more newsworthy when it is current, when it is reported as soon as it happens. Newsflashes is a great example of timely stories.
The word oddity comes from the word odd meaning unusual. A news story is newsworthy when the unexpected happens. Things that are beyond the ordinary. News is all about the freshness of a story so when the story is beyond what happens daily, it is going to entice the general public.
Some distinctive characteristics of features, news story, opinion columns and reviews.
A feature is a longer piece of writing that cover an issue in greater depth. Features many come in many different kinds and are widely used in magazines, newspapers and online.
A feature is considered as soft news. Soft news focused more on personal, more human side of news event. It can be broadcasted and published anytime.
Differences between news stories and feature articles.
A news story is time- bound and of immediate interest. Think of an accident, election result, a murder report, a product launch, football scores and many more. They are reported as soon as it occurs.
Let’s take a look at this example, for instance if the sitting President suddenly dies, the news should be reported immediately- perhaps within minutes or seconds. This shows that news stories are time-sensitive.
A feature article can be broadcasted or published at any point. Its content is often evergreen or at least lasting. For example a story talking about the most shortest human in the world is not time dependent and it can be written within several weeks.
A news article reports the fact that is the 5Ws and H – who,when, where, what, why and how. It is written in a straight forward, simple and short reporting style.
A feature article is a human story about a person, event or place. It highlights one aspect or significant of the story.
The structure of a news story is in an inverted pyramid format with the most important facts at the beginning of the article. It is from the ascending order to the descending order. This way the readers can get the important ideas without necessarily reading all the story.
A feature article allows the subject matter to determine its format. It is written in such a way that the reader follows the story till it ends and still want to read more.
News stories are short, simple and use effective words. It count runs averaging 100-400 words depending upon the type of news and where it is placed in the publication. They are meant to digest quickly.
Feature articles are longer and dig more deeply into the topic. Length varies for each publication, but a typical feature word count runs between 1000-2000 words.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN REVIEWS AND OPINION COLUMNS.
We have already looked at reviews and opinion columns in our previous articles let us figure out the similarities between them.
They are both subjective and they give their opinions on a particular subject or product. Readers can choose to agree or disagree.
These are some short notes on the main features of Journalistic Writing. These are the basis of Journalistic Writing that every journalist must know.
Thanks for reading.
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