Reporting news: a 5-point checklist - Andrew Noakes - Motoring Writer

1. Remember ‘five Ws and an H’

Get answers to these six basic questions, and you've got the essentials of your news story:

  • WHO? - eg: Who was involved?
  • WHAT? - eg: What happened?
  • WHEN? - eg: When did this happen?
  • WHERE? - eg: Where did it happen?
  • WHY? - eg: Why did it happen?
  • HOW? - eg: How did it happen?

2. Every story should have at least one quote

Listen and record (in your notes or in audio) what people say. Use quotes in your story: the words of people involved in the story carry more authority than words you write yourself.

3. For every quote we MUST have basic speaker details:

  • Speaker’s title - eg: Professor
  • Speaker’s name - eg: Michael Tovey
  • Speaker’s title - eg: Director of Design, Coventry University

Always CHECK that you have the correct spelling of any name or place – do not assume. There's more than one way of spelling Smith.

4. Get to the point

Begin your story with a clear, short statement of what happened and why it is important.

  • DON’T waffle
  • DON’T ‘set the scene’
  • DON’T talk about yourself and what you thought


5. Use ‘stacked inverted pyramid’ style

Separate your story into a few key topics. Begin with the most important topic. Within each topic, present the most important facts first and least important last.

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