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Newriting Style In Journalism

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The Ð''inverted pyramid' style of writing stories is the most important aspect of print journalism. The emphasis on quickly and succinctly conveying information to a Ð''time-starved' reader base, dictates how they must be written. During this essay I will discuss the conventions of a typical news story and give an example. I will describe the news writing process and the importance of the first paragraph. After seeing how logical and effective this style of writing is it is clear that it is the best method of writing for print journalism. Some critics of these methods argue that further refinement would help the audience read more stories, however I believe this gives the user a bias view on a news article and results in some of the facts being withheld. To start with, the unique inverted pyramid structure must be looked at.

The structure of a news story is very important element to the reporting process. The description that is used for the structure of news stories take is that of an upside down pyramid. All the important and relevant information is contained in the first paragraph of the story. A reader should be able to look at the first paragraph and know all the important information the story will contain. After this paragraph, the rest of the story becomes less and less important or Ð''new'. A good news story will be able to be cut back to one paragraph and still be understood. Conley describes the inverted pyramid as "a harmonious design that results from the fundamental premise that readers want immediately to be told the most important facts Ð'- something that the inverted pyramid achieves." (Conley 1997 p. 155). The importance of this structure in conveying information to readers with a busy lifestyle or limited attention span and host of other mediums at their disposal. To see why the inverted pyramid structure is so efficient we must look at the power of the first paragraph of a news story and what is contained within that paragraph.

The first paragraph of a news story is the one that will either gather or lose an audience for a story. It is where the reader decides whether the story sounds interesting enough for them to keep reading or not. For a journalist the strength of this introduction also decides whether or not the story will be put into print or whether it is passed over for a story that has a much stronger lead. Conley best sums up the importance of the lead when he says, "if the reporter does not grab the reader with the first sentence, there is no need to write a second one." (Conley 1997 p. 138). Alysen agrees that that the importance of the first paragraph is integral to print journalism, "instead of being left until the end, the conclusion must go at the top as the Ð''intro'" (Alysen 2003 p. 152).

For an example on the inverted pyramid news writing style I have broken down an example from Journalism web-log, The Buzz Machine. Jarvis gives two examples of the same story, showing one well written introduction using the inverted pyramid system and a poorly written article that takes several paragraphs to tell its story. This next exert is from the web-log

Look at NYTimes.com and on the business page they have to get right to the point

NY TIMES exert

Ð''South Park' Creators Win Ad Sharing in Deal

Comedy Central and the creators of the popular show, "South Park," have agreed to create a hub to spread the program and related material across the Internet, mobile platforms and video games.

In the paper, here's how long it takes to get to the point:

This is the newspaper article on the same news story

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 26 Ð'-- In March, the season premiere of "South Park" began by barging into typically risquÐ"© territory, with a squirm-inducing bit about the taboo of using a certain racial epithet.

(Jarvis, The Buzz Machine, 2007).

With these examples it can be seen how much more effective the first example is at conveying the information to the reader in one paragraph. While the second story meanders through several paragraphs like the one presented, before coming to the actual new information.

The only

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