By Our Reporter
Eme Offiong, Zonal News Correspondent, Voice of Nigeria, South-South Zone, has said that, “The new media (online mediums) are very challenging”.
She made the assertion recently while presenting a paper themed “Practical Approach To News Writing” at the fifth edition of CrossRiverWatch Online Journalists capacity building training in Calabar.
Buttressing the vitality and strength of online journalism, she added: “Your reports should be short, powerful and punching as possible. So that if the person reads just one line or two the real message will be gotten”.
Defining news she said, “Many Communication scholars agree that “News” can refer to any information that is new to its listeners. An unusual occurrence; a strange event; a once in a life time happening (epoch making).
To some, it is information not previously known and disseminated through the mass media such as radio, newspapers, television and now websites established for such”.
According to her the following are elements of news: “Timeliness: how timely is it? When did it happen? Proximity: how close is the event to your audience? Nearness does matter – where? Prominence: who is involved?
Consequence: what effect has it on the audience/society? Human Interest: what aspect of the event evokes feeling? Is there an angle to this event that would appeal to people for a greater good?
Conflict: the event is it of problems, crisis, challenges, riot or can it create such? The above are things to consider about an incident before you begin to gather facts and then write”.
Eme Offiong after defining news writing as “Journalistic Writing” went on to say that “It is a style of writing, which is different from the conventional. By that I am referring to essay writing in secondary school. News writing adopts the inverted pyramid style rather than the pyramid. The inverted pyramid looks like a triangle turned upside down. It emphasizes the most important and leaves the less relevant to the end”.
After urging the participants to be sensitive to the need of their audience and the medium they write for, she quoted SARA QUINN, POYTNER who said “Reports convey information. Stories transport the reader, crossing boundaries of time, space and imagination. The report points us there. The story puts us there”.
She stated the following as the best process of structuring the body of the story: Build your story in blocks that follow logically. Try to group all the information relating to one element of your story in one block of paragraphs. Touching on an issue in the third paragraph and then returning to it in the eighth often confuses readers.
Write sequentially. Each sentence should connect to the next like a link in a chain. You make a statement, expand on it in the next paragraph, illustrate it with a quote in the third paragraph, and give some figures or background in the fourth paragraph. Then you move on to the next “block” by using a signpost sentence.
Use signposts to let readers know you are moving to the next theme. A signpost or marker can be as simple as a “but” or it can be a short sentence which summarizes what follows.
Don’t leave holes. Don’t mention an element without explaining it. If you have just said that a merger will create the second-largest widget maker in the region, don’t make the reader wait five paragraphs before revealing who is the largest.
Using “cross-heads” to break up the story about every 300 words can help the reader to follow your thinking.
Concluding she said the best language for news is to Keep It Short and Simple (KISS).
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