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Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions




How do you write the basic journalistic news article or news release?


Introduction: A Definition

Problem and Assignment

The Steps of the Process

     1. Rough Drafting

     2. Organizing

     3. Final Drafting



Sample Paper (Separate Web Page)


See also Prewriting Activities.


Introduction: A Definition

A news article or news release is a factual account of an event, activity, or person.  The article or release is organized with the most interesting or useful information first, the second most interesting second, etc.  The traditional article used the 5 W's of journalism to determine the information: Who?, What?, Where?, When?, and Why?  More modern forms of journalism try to include answers to all these questions but, instead, organize important or relevant information similarly into small groupings and then place the most important group first, the second most important group second, etc. 


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Problem and Assignment

People want news of events in a short, easy to digest form.  Newspapers and other sources of public news provide news articles and news releases for this purpose.  If you are beginning in journalism or you are a non-journalist who wants to write a brief news article or news release, the 5 W's of traditional journalism work well.

A typical assignment in such situations is to write a news article about an event, real or imagined, using the 5 W's of journalism for organizing. The article should have five separate sections with each section developed by a different W for one to two paragraphs. ("When" or "where" may be combined with one other W to create only four sections.)

The article also should have an introduction using a 5 W's sentence or two to summarize what you will say, and a brief, interesting conclusion.


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The Process

1. FOCUS ON A FIRST DRAFT (Brainstorm Ideas & Create a Rough Draft):

          Imagine you are reporter or publicity director. Start with an idea list, made-up story, or mental image. Brainstorm a simple, factual report describing some event, person, place, or thing. Write freely and quickly.

2. FOCUS ON ORGANIZING (Evaluate Your Needs and Organize):

          Look at samples. Make the basic form:

intro--Use all 5 W's (+ Definition).
division 1\ Use each 5 W more fully:
division 2 \ who, what, where, when,
division 3 } & why/how, in order of
division 4 / most importance or
division 5/ interest.
concl--(1) summarize; (2) strong end.

3. FOCUS ON A FINAL DRAFT (Revise and Edit):

Describe fully, clearly, and simply.
Check organizational parts.
Check tone/style: sound factual,
simple, clear, and interesting.
Check grammar, spelling, & punctuation.
Put the final paper in typed form.


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1. Rough Drafting

Start brainstorming by feeding your brain: read this whole chapter quickly and casually; then look at the sample more carefully for a few minutes. Notice that the heart of a news release is a report or description of something that exists or has happened. It is simple and factual, never obviously emotional, never obviously opinionated.

News release writing has many uses in school and work. In school, it is useful in journalism and public-event writing, and very brief summary forms of it can be very useful in many classes to summarize events, objects, or subjects. This is especially true if you learn to write definition introductions. Definition writing has many uses in introductions or first sections of academic papers.

In the world of work, news release writing is an important skill. Most organizations require publicity news releases or longer written brochures or ads that describe the companies' products or services, and some organizations have newsletters. All of these kinds of writing are news release writing. Learn them here, and you will be able to use them in work. In addition, those who wish to pursue journalism or other writing professions will find news release writing basic and important to master.

When brainstorming a news release for this course, you may start in one or more of these ways:

(1) Write a long list of ideas, and then narrow the choices;

(2) Make up a factual-sounding story; or

(3) Sit back, relax, breathe, clear your mind, and imagine.

Then write spontaneously and quickly for your first draft.

Another way to brainstorm a first-draft news release is to pretend you are a newspaper reporter or publicity director, and then start with some real or made up event, person, or product. Write about it quickly and spontaneously.


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2. Organizing

Before you begin writing your second draft, look carefully at the news release map and the sample news releases. Then add to your first draft the second-draft parts, divisions, or sections. Then expand or develop parts, edit excess parts, and reorder and regroup ideas, sentences, and paragraphs as needed.

A news release is a clear, simply ordered report or description. It usually starts with a sentence or two that summarize what the release is about. Traditional news release writing then develops by using what are called the five W's of journalism. These five W's are meant to describe everything basic and important to readers of a news story. The five W's answer five basic questions:

Who --Who are the people involved?

What --What happened or happens?

Where --Where did/does this take place?

When --When in time did/does this take place?

Why or How--Why did/does this happen, or how?

You should be aware that these 5 W's questions usually are answered twice:

(1) all five in the beginning one to two sentences, and

(2) each one more fully in its own paragraph (or more).

In what order should you answer the 5 W's? In the introducton, because you are trying to use them quickly in a summarizing way, you may answer the 5 W's in any order that is convenient and quick. Many journalists working in this traditional form try to learn to answer all 5 W's in the introduction in just one sentence: for example, "Jack and Jill climbed up the hill Saturday to fetch a pail of water." (Or, using "how" instead of "why," "Jack and Jill climbed up the hill Saturday using the newest developments in MountainWare brand equipment.")

In the body--the divisions or sections that make up the main part of the paper after the introduction--you should use the 5 W's with THE MOST IMPORTANT OR INTERESTING FIRST. In fact, this tradition of using the most interesting “W” first—and the least interesting “W” last—is called the "inverted pyramid" of journalism:



\                                               /

\       5 W's introductory sentence.       /


\                                   /

\               WHO?                /

\                               /


\                                  /

\                WHAT?           /

\                              /


\                          /

\        WHERE?       /

\                    /


\                  /

\      WHEN?    /

\              /


\          /

\  WHY/  /

\ HOW? /

\    /

\  /


The reason this pattern was developed for news writing was that after journalists had finished their news articles, busy editors had to quickly fit these articles onto the pages of a newspaper by getting rid of parts of the articles. The editors did not have enough time to carefully read the articles and delete a sentence here and a paragraph there; so if the articles were written in the pattern of the inverted pyramid, the editors were able simply to cut the ends of the articles--because they knew the ends had the least important or interesting information. This still sometimes is done today, which helps explain why some news articles end abruptly with little or no concluding material. The inverted pyramid and 5 W's pattern remains a convenient, traditional method of writing news releases. (A more modern way is to group the news information into several clusters--under several subheadings--and then write about each cluster or subheading in order of the clusters' importance or interest to readers.)

Here, then is how your news release can be formed:

(l) a "lead" paragraph: summarizing sentences with all 5 W's,

(2) most important/interesting W,

(3) 2nd most imp./int. W,

(4-6) 3rd most imp./int. W, etc.,

(7) clear, simple paragraphing with simple order in each paragraph, and clear cause-and-effect order for "what" and/or "why/how,"

(6) a "close"--an ending paragraph--summarizing briefly, in a catchy way, what was said in the news release.


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3. Final Drafting

Rewrite what you have done. Remember to use your rewriting skills, especially those which are good for making strong, interesting verbs: You should use very few adjectives; let the verbs make your news writing come alive. Also be sure to avoid too many short sentences or paragraphs in a row (choppy writing) or too many long sentences or paragraphs in a row (harder-to-read writing).

Good news release writing is quick, bright, and "light": by "light" is meant that it does not carry a lot of verbal baggage in each sentence. This means that each sentence usually should depend on an interesting verb and should avoid excess adjectives and adverbs. For example, here is how to change a sentence with a dull verb and too many adjectives tot he kind of quick, bright, and light writing often used in news releases:


A two-engine diesel Trans World Airways jet airplane went down over mountainous territory in the heat of late Tuesday.


A TWA jet went down in the mountains Tuesday.


A TWA jet fell among mountains Tuesday.

Notice especially that after getting rid of the extra words, simplifying the sentence, that the verb then was changed to a somewhat more interesting (but not overly dramatic) verb.

Another important aspect of good news release writing is to avoid having sentences that are excessively long. One way that sentences become excessively long is that they have long introductory phrases. In fact, if sentences do have introductory phrases in news release or other public or business writing, usually the sentence will read much more easily if the introductory phrases are put at the end--not the beginning--of the sentences. Here are two examples.


At Kibitzer's Restaurant last Saturday at 9 a.m., to plan July's Antique and Racing Auto Show, members of the Auto Club met.


Members of the Auto Club met at Kibitzer's Restaurant last Saturday at 9 a.m. to plan July's Antique and Racing Auto Show.


Auto Club members met at Kibitzer's Restaurant Saturday, 9 a.m. They planned July's Antique and Racing Auto Show.

This is how to make clear, simple sentences for public and business writing. Please see the chapter on Writing Sentences (peacock sentence-making) later in this book. That chapter offers detailed descriptions of how and why long introductory phrases should be placed at the ends rather than the beginnings of sentences.

The final printed version of your news release for this class should have these characteristics:

(l) Cut all excess words.

(2) Develop each 5 W sufficiently for the needed length.

(3) Use a very basic, clear, strong sentence construction:

Put the subject near the beginning.
Put the verb soon after the subject.
Move introductory phrases after the verb if possible.

(4) Don't use many adjectives; make the verbs lively.

(5) Try to have an attention-grabbing lead and interesting close.

(6) Double check all the organizational requirements, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Critical Thinking Activity: The rhetorical modes of extended definition and cause & effect.

If you are working with the rhetorical modes, a News Article uses some of these modes. It especially is useful for writing in the mode of extended definition. It also is useful for writing in the mode of cause/effect.

Here's what you need to know to use these modes when writing a News Article. A News Article is, of and by itself, a type of extended definition: it simply defines your subject in a full or "extended" way--more thoroughly than does a dictionary. However, to make it more clearly an extended definition, add the following parts of a short definition to the introductory paragraph:

(1) the exact term (the who or what) being defined,

(2) its classification--the class or group of people, events, or things to which it belongs, and

(3) a brief summarizing description of the term.

These three items are the three parts of a good dictionary definition. Use these in the introduction; then the rest of your news release is the "extended" part of the definition, adding further description of or about the term. Here are three examples of good dictionary definitions using the three defining items above:

(1--term:) "Chris Smith

(2--class:) is a student at George Washington College

(3--sum/des:) who is 19, working on an engineering degree, and is from Chicago, Illinois."

(1--term:) "The Sun Car Race

(2--class:) is a national competition

(3--sum/des:) based in Utah for solar-run cars developed by independent inventors and schools."

(1--term:) "La-Zee

(2--class:) is a new silicon-based car polish

(3--sum/des:) made by Dupe Chemicals to be so easy to use it practically applies itself."

A simple extended-definition paper usually starts with such simple dictionary-like definitions; then the definition is extended by writing a long body further describing the term. A news article becomes an extended definition by adding a short definition to the end of the introduction; then the body of the news article--the 5 W's development--becomes the extended description of the term.

A news release also makes use of the mode of cause/effect. Cause/effect simply means that you shows the causes and/or effects of some event, person, or object. "Cause" means the reasons why or for something, or the source of something. "Effects" simply are results. Cause/effect writing shows a chain of connected events, each the logical result of the one before it. A simple cause/effect paper discusses the chain of events related to a person, event, or object, either as causes or effects or both. For example, a paper about a solar car might describe how it came to be built by an inventor and how he first became interested in solar cars (the causes), and what the results of this solar car might be--how its existence might lead people to take energy efficiency and environmental concerns more seriously and even lead to mass-produced solar cars (effects).

A news release often requires simple cause-and-effect logic in explaining more fully "what" has happened, or especially in explaining "why/how" it has happened. These two parts of the 5 W's--"what" and "why/how"--are the parts which are most likely to develop cause/effect writing in a news release.


When you are done writing your news release, put it into good typed or printed format--dark and easily readable with approximate 1" margins. Be sure to give it a title and have your name in an appropriate place. A news release is simply a reasonably objective report or description of an event, person, or object. This is how it is done.


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Sample Paper (Separate Web Page)


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 49. Case Study

 50. IMRaD Science Report

 51. Magazine/Nwsltr. Article

 52. News Article/Release

 53. Story Writing

 54. Applying for Jobs

 55. Process/Instructions

 56. Professional Report

 57. Professional Proposal

 58. Recommendation Report


Related Chapters/Pages:

Details & Images

Creating Websites

Leading Writing Groups



 Related Links in

  16. Research Writing

  17. Citation & Documentation

  18. References & Resources

  19. Visual/Multimodal Design

  20. Major/Work Writing              


Updated 27 Oct. 2013

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1st through 5th Editions:: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998;, 1998-2012.
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted.
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
Images courtesy of Barry's Clip Art, Clip Art Warehouse, The Clip Art Universe, Clipart Collection, MS Clip Art Gallery and Design Gallery Live, School Discovery, and Web Clip Art
Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell.  Questions and suggestions are welcome.