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This article will teach you the basics of how to write an informative newspaper article that is worthy of being published by Barrington Town News.

Most newspaper articles break down into two categories:

  • News Articles – which cover the basics of current events by answering the Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? Questions about the event. These types of articles usually have one angle, which is a single viewpoint, such as what the perspective reader in the community would want to know about the current event. You want to make sure that these types of articles are not biased or based on opinion, as the reader just wants to know the facts of the current event.
  • Feature Articles – which are longer and more in-depth than regular news articles. They cover one subject from multiple angles, such as the Business, Environmental, and Political Implications of the article. These types of articles can optionally be written in a more creative and entertaining perspective, but still very professional and centered on what the reader needs to know about the topic or current event.

Both News Articles and Feature Articles require the same level of diligence in the amount of research that is done into the topic or current event.

The Outline of Your Story

The best way to structure your article is to first write an outline, conduct your research and notes based on the outline, and then fill in the outline with the facts and quotes that you’ve obtained from your sources. Every single fact in a newspaper article must come from either an external source or public knowledge that you or a colleague have about the topic. It is not necessary to have a background in the topic you are researching; however, it helps to add context to the article.

i) The Headline – this is what readers will look at first to decide if they want to read your article. It’s important to make it concise – no greater than 60 characters, and it must also summarize the article. Newspapers can have a lot of fun with their headlines to grab the attention of an audience.

ii) The Opening Sentence – this sentence summarizes even more what is contained in the article, with a little more information than the headline. It should be no longer than 120 characters. This sentence will be shown underneath the headline before the reader clicks on the article link.

iii) Introduction – this section of the article is the first part of the body of the article, which is displayed at the top of the article after the user has clicked on the headline. Usually, this section will start out with the location that the story pertains to in all caps, such as BARRINGTON, N.H. – it then summarizes the entire article’s main points in one paragraph, which contains 3-4 compound sentences.

iv) Opening Quotation – if your article contains quotes that people have said, either in an email or in person, you would include their initial response here.

v) Main Body – This is where the heart of your story goes, including well-organized logic of how your facts are laid out.

vi) Closing Quotation – if your article contains quotes from people, this is where you should refer to the closing quote that concludes the source’s perspective of the story. Be careful not to bias the article based on your closing quote if you’re using more than one person’s quotes.

vii) Conclusion – This section is optional if you didn’t use quotes, or if your closing quote doesn’t successfully close out the story. This should be a memorable way to end your story. You can also a sentence such as, “For more information, visit www.organization.com.”

Not all these elements are necessary to be represented in your story. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable taking quotes from people, you don’t have to. You can just write what they say, and you can optionally reference the person you spoke to that you obtained the information from. It really depends on if you’re writing a story about an organization or subject matter, or if you’re writing a story about a person’s point of view.

Using Quotes

It’s not always necessary to have a lead source for a story – for an example, you may be writing a story based on a Press release, which is a news story already drafted by an organization. In this case, you may want to reach out to the contact on the Press release and ask them additional questions that you feel their story left out. You should write out your questions prior to contacting your source of information.

Editing Is Required

Your first written version of a story is just your rough draft – you’ll need to edit the article to improve its contents and readability. You can always read the article back to yourself to see how the reader will think about the article. You can also have a friend or family member read your draft article, as many times as you need to until it reads perfectly and conveys the message of the story you’ve chosen. Be sure to remove all spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. You can also read your story out loud, which will help you catch awkward phrases.

Article Submission

Once you believe your article is finished, you’ll submit it to the newspaper’s editor, that is a professional writer who will use various software tools and their professional experience to make your article shine. Software that is used can include programs that correct all spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, programs that optimize the content for search engines, and programs that optimize the content for readability.