The Secret to Complete News Stories

First-time-in-charge-news-stories-smallWe’ve all done it. We write a blog post or news announcement, hit publish and then realize we missed a key fact. Well, it was all there in my head. Just not all made it on the page.

There’s a useful tip from public relations that can help you write complete news stories. It’s the Five Ws and an H.

Using this model as a framework, it’s easy to write a first draft. It requires listing Who, What, Where, Why, When, Where, and How. The order can be changed, as long as you cover each point. The Journalistics blog gives this example using the story of the Three Little Pigs.

  • Who was involved? The three little pigs (the first pig, the second pig and the third pig) and The Big Bad Wolf (a.k.a. Wolf).
  • What happened? Each pig constructed a house out of different materials (straw, sticks and bricks). Wolf (allegedly) threatened to blow over their houses and is believed to have destroyed both the straw and stick homes at this time. Pig one and two were able to flee to the brick house, where they remain at the moment. We’re still waiting to hear from local authorities, but it looks like the Wolf may have been injured while attempting to enter the brick house.
  • Where did it take place? Outside a straw house, a stick house and a brick house.
  • When did it take place? At various times throughout the day.
  • Why did it happen? Apparently the Big Bad Wolf was trying to eat the pigs. Several eyewitnesses recall the Wolf taunting the pigs before he destroyed the straw and stick homes by chanting, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me in.” The pigs apparently scoffed at the Wolf’s idle treats, saying “Not by the hair of our chinny, chin chins.” It’s believed this angered the Wolf and led to him blowing the houses down.
  • How did it happen? It would appear the first two homes were not built to withstand the Wolf’s powerful breath. The incident inside the brick house is still being investigated, but early indications suggest the Wolf fell into a boiling pot of water when trying to enter the house through the chimney.

If you’re like me and prefer to hand write the first draft, here’s a worksheet we made for today’s First Time in Charge clergy session.

Do you have any other tips for writing complete news stories? Please share in the comments.

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