Types of News Writing

DiscoverWriting & JournalismTypes of News Writing
Types of News Writing

Author

Willard Grosvenor Bleyer

About this book

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Contents (17)

PREFACE
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CHAPTER I NEWS WRITING
CHAPTER II THE STUDY OF NEWS STORIES
AN OUTLINE FOR THE ANALYSIS OF NEWS STORIES
CHAPTER III FIRES AND ACCIDENTS
CHAPTER IV POLICE NEWS AND CRIME
CHAPTER V CRIMINAL AND CIVIL COURTS
CHAPTER VI INVESTIGATIONS, LEGISLATION, AND MEETINGS
CHAPTER VII SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, AND REPORTS
CHAPTER VIII EXHIBITIONS, ENTERTAINMENTS, AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS
CHAPTER IX ILLNESS AND DEATH
CHAPTER X POLITICS AND ELECTIONS
CHAPTER XI LABOR TROUBLES AND STRIKES
CHAPTER XII WEATHER
CHAPTER XIII SPORTS
CHAPTER XIV SOCIETY
CHAPTER XV MISCELLANEOUS LOCAL NEWS

PREFACE

This book has been prepared with the purpose of furnishing students of journalism and young reporters with a large collection of typical news stories. For college classes it may be used as a textbook. For newspaper workers it is offered as a handbook to which they may turn, in a particular case, to find out what news to get, where to get it, and how to present it effectively. Every young writer on a newspaper is called upon to do kinds of reporting in which he lacks experience. If, with the aid of an index, he can turn readily to several instances where more experienced writers have solved problems like his own, he will undertake his new task with a clearer idea of what to do and how to do it.

For systematic instruction in news writing it is desirable that students have in convenient form representative stories for study and analysis. Newspapers, it might be thought, would furnish this material, but experience has shown that it is often difficult to find, in current issues of newspapers, examples of the particular kind of story under consideration, and it is likewise difficult to supply every student in a large class with a copy of the issue that happens to contain the desired example.

The selection of specimens for this book has been determined largely by two considerations: first, that the news which the story contains should be typical, rather than extraordinary or “freakish”; and second, that the story should present the news effectively. It has been assumed that the student must first learn to handle average news well in order to grapple successfully with extraordinary happenings. A considerable part of the book deals with more or less routine news, because it is with this type that a large portion of the reporter’s work is concerned.

Since newspapers are read rapidly, it has been taken for granted that a story is most effective when its structure and style enable the reader to get the news with the least effort and the greatest interest. Many pieces of news can best be treated in a simple, concise style, with the essential facts well massed in a summary lead. Such straightforward presentation does not mean that the style must be bald and unoriginal. The examples illustrative of this purely informative type of news story are generally marked by a simplicity and directness of expression that are characteristic of good journalistic style.

Informative news stories in which the so-called “human interest” element has been developed have also been included in considerable number, not only because they are perennially popular, but because some news may be presented very effectively by bringing out its human interest phases. As a type distinct from these stories with news of some value are those entertaining and appealing stories, containing little or no real news, that are generally known as “feature” or “human interest” stories. Both of these types illustrate the application to news writing of recognized methods of fiction. The use of these methods is entirely commendable. The danger for the reporter lies in failure to discriminate between fiction and its methods. To use the devices of fiction in order to portray faithfully actual events is one thing; to substitute fictitious details in order to heighten the effect is quite another. No stories have been included in this book that are unquestionably fictitious. Some that may have imaginary details have been given to furnish material for discussion.

The examples presented here are not put forward as models for the student to imitate in every respect. Few news stories are perfect in structure and style. The conditions under which they are written and edited make careful revision almost impossible. For the purpose of analysis, work that is not so well done as it might have been is valuable as showing the student what to avoid in his own writing.

The stories have been grouped in chapters partly on the basis of subject matter and partly on that of the methods used. This arrangement has been adopted not as a complete classification of news, but rather as a convenient grouping for purposes of study. In each chapter has been included a brief discussion of the chief points to be considered in analyzing and in writing the type of story in that division. None of the points has been treated at length owing to lack of space and to the fact that most of them have been taken up in detail by the author in another textbook, “Newspaper Writing and Editing.”

Attention has been called in each chapter to the underlying purpose that should determine the selection and the presentation of the kind of news included in that group. This has been done in the belief that the reporter should consider carefully the probable effect on the reader of every story that he writes. Since “the food of opinion is the news of the day,” the kind of food that he serves and the manner in which he serves it is a matter of consequence, not only to him and his newspaper but to society as a whole. Not until a reporter realizes the influence that his news stories may have on the ideas and ideals of thousands of readers, does he appreciate fully the significance of his work. The possibilities of what has been termed “constructive journalism” have been dwelt upon at some length because it is evident that well-edited papers are undertaking more and more to present the news so that it will have a wholesome effect on their readers.

The selections in this book have been taken from daily newspapers in all parts of the country and may be said to illustrate current practice. The name of the paper has been attached to each example, not only in acknowledgment of the credit due, but in an effort to lead the student to consider the story from the point of view of the policy of the paper and of the character of the readers to whom it appeals. The student should compare all of the stories taken from each paper and should, if possible, examine the current issues.

Although it has not seemed desirable to print the examples in so small type as that commonly used in newspapers, the column width has been retained in order to reproduce, as far as possible, the effect of the original form. Headlines have not been given because they are not an integral part of the story. In a few instances stories have been condensed when it was possible to do so without destroying the effect. For obvious reasons names and addresses have frequently been changed, and errors that escaped notice have been corrected in a number of the stories.

The author is deeply indebted to Alice Haskell Bleyer for invaluable suggestions and criticism in connection with every detail of this book.

University of Wisconsin, Madison,
January 20, 1916.