From the newsroom


Sangeeta Cavale RK

To write an article, you have to first know that an article is split into three elementary parts – introduction, body and conclusion. This simplification makes it easy to have a logical story flow, to have ease of readability and to ensure that no points are left out.

Breaking an article into these three simple parts also ensures that you are able to structure your story without much difficulty. Let’s give you an example. Imagine that you want to get hold of someone’s attention to tell them something important – you clap to first catch their eye, then you beckon them toward you and when they approach, you tell them what you have to say and let them process the information you have just given them.  It’s the same with a good story – a lead that is engrossing grabs their attention, the body brings them closer to you and what you are trying to say, the conclusion empowers them to think and to analyze the information you have given them.

Start with a bang! Good leads both tell and sell.

The introduction or lead is the most important part of a news story. It should convey the essence and facts of the story straight up. The lead (beginning or introduction) establishes the direction your writing will take. You should state the who and the what in the first sentence. If the when, where and how are important, state them too. After reading the lead or introduction, your reader should know exactly what the article is all about. If your facts are not interesting or compelling enough, chances are that your reader won’t go beyond the first paragraph. Good leads both tell and sell.

The lede (that’s how journalists spell it) is the first paragraph of any news story. In newsrooms, journalists call it the intro. The lede must give readers the main points of the story and get readers interested in reading. Typically editors want ledes to be no longer than 35-40 words. Readers want their news delivered quickly, and a short lede does just that. A short and sweet lede is perfect. Want your reader to be hooked from the start –make your lede powerful and impactful.

Writer and editor Mark Nichol says in his blog, “The traditional lede for a news article includes what journalists call the 5 Ws (and sometimes an H thrown in for good measure): This term is shorthand for who, what, when, where, and why (plus how). Of course, a lede that includes all five (or six) elements is usually overstuffed; it’s better to focus only a couple or at most a few of these. To accomplish brevity (ideally, a lede should consist of less than thirty words), choose strong, vivid nouns and verbs, eschew verbosity and redundancy, and make every word count. To test the lede, read it aloud, and omit adjectives, adverbs, and wordy constructions — and, especially in these search-engine-driven times, focus on keywords.

To craft an effective lede, avoiding writing what readers already know and telling readers what you’re going to tell them. Keep to one point, and avoid attribution and specific numbers.”

For eg,  avoid beginning a sentence with specific numbers – ‘’ This week, 6,546 Indians will be sent back to India from the US as their XYZ visas are no longer valid. The US government has changed visa rules for Indians working in the certain sectors of the IT industry…’’

Here is an example of a lead which arouses reader interest – It talks about the war in Iraq and uses facts and figures to drive the point home.

__WASHINGTON — Sixty percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq, the highest number since polling on the subject began with the commencement of the war in March 2003, according to poll results and trends released Wednesday. (CNN)

The body is the next part of an article which follows the introduction. The second paragraph expounds upon the lead. You are to write about the why and the who. Why is the event newsworthy, why should it be read about and why should anybody care about it. Who is it about? If the event is about a famous person, this para assumes more significance. If it is about someone important then you need to give his/her background, what post they held and their achievements if need be.

Later after establishing what happened, who did it and why it’s important and who all are involved and their significance, you can go further into the event adding more details if needed. In my experience as a journalist, I have seen many write a good lead and then lose steam by the time they reach the body. Remember, the body can be several paragraphs long. Take a look at this link which talks about the problem of midlife eating disorders

The body is five paragraphs long and tells the bulk of the story effectively. End it well, make an impact.

The conclusion, is as the name suggests, the final part of the article. End your article with a summary of the facts and answers to any questions that the article may have raised. If it is a crime story and the police have not yet reported that the crime has been solved, end with a discussion of the ongoing police investigation and explain further, if more information is needed, what the police are seeking to learn and what can bring the case to a conclusion.

This conclusion, from an article in the Montreal Gazette, about World Leader Nelson Mandela’s health has a simple conclusion. It talks about the reality of Mandela’s health and age and how people should not dwell too much on his illness.

When writing a newspaper article, even a feature story, it’s important to leave readers with useful information at the end. A newspaper article conclusion is NOT a summary. The newspaper article’s conclusion should direct readers in some way. For eg: When writing about an upcoming event, conclude with information about when and where the event will take place, along with a phone number and website address. When writing about an organization or person, include website or contact information when appropriate. *(Source:ehow.com)

I have found in my experience that when it comes to completing a news story on a political event, an act of war or a natural disaster always write the conclusion with an eye towards the future. What are the possible outcomes that this event may bring about? Who will be affected by the event, and what, if any, possible solutions lie on the horizon?

Using the introduction, body and conclusion as your markers, it becomes much easier to write a piece, whether it is an article, a review, a blog or a report. The key is to share information logically and in a straightforward manner, which will then enable your reader to gain value from the piece.

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