Column: How to write a good newspaper article

Whether it’s for your school’s newspaper, your work or just out of curiosity and a  need to learn something new, writing a good newspaper article worth reading or even publishing isn’t sorcery. You never know when you might need to write something for a cheap local newspaper for last resort money. By following a couple of simple and essential steps, which does not include copying and pasting passages from different areas, anyone, from amateur journalists to veteran writers, can achieve a well written and interesting article.

The first and most essential step is to find a good topic that will inform the audience as well as interest them. The subject must also talk about something which you have a decent understanding and knowledge of. School related topics do not count; you can just go to school to learn these. An article can talk about a variety of different things. The wide range includes world affairs like politics, social problems and economics, or more fun and daily life oriented, like celebrities, travel, and cuisine. Of course, talking about Kim Kardarshian’s surgically enhanced butt isn’t really going to interest others. But writing about old locomotives that were left to rot in the country side of Texas isn’t better. These days, I’ve seen people really enjoying food related topics: nothing beats an article about French pastries with delicious looking pictures. Having a solid topic will enable you to have a strong starting point and make the rest of the work much easier.

The second and mandatory step is finding sources to support your topic. Sources are an important part of the article that must never be overlooked as they give credibility to the article. Now, let’s be clear: sources do not include family members or the old retired couple that lives down the street – they must be real important and smart sources. Sources can either be directly obtained through interviews, or indirectly through researches and surveys. However, make sure to check all of your sources and have evidence to back up all of your facts. Not sure if Obama is really the US President? Look it up; Google might have something on that topic. Also remember all of the sources’ names as you will need to cite them in your story; you don’t want to get sued for misspelling the Spanish Ambassador’s name, especially of you have limited knowledge on the Spanish language.

And now, the step that I like to call the “pain in the butt work”: typing up the article. The last and most crucial step which may cause cringing, migraines, sore eyes, tired fingers, and even mental breakdowns; the writer of this article will not be held responsible for any of these side effects – you have been warned. Moving on, the first thing you will learn is that everything you learned in English class regarding writing will be useless. In journalism, we like to do our own stuff. We use what is known as the Inverse Pyramid writing tool: start with an extremely broad introduction that will be no more than 25 words. You might be asking yourself, how is this hard? Patience, my friend, everything has its time. Next, you will use a quote – transition pattern. Think of it like the quote is the interesting TV show you are watching on TV and the transitions are the annoying commercials that cut off the show at the most intense moments. Just kidding, the transitions are still important; can you imagine how weird TV would be without commercials?

Now that you are equipped with the tools for writing a good article, this is where I will have to send you off. Of course, I can’t guarantee that your article will make it to the New York Times (and let’s be honest, we all know there’s no way it will make it there…), but that doesn’t mean it might not interest other random people (you know the weird man two blocks away? He will read anything and he will probably be your first reader!).

Good luck on your path to the newspaper office!


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