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How to Write a Newspaper Article
Last Updated: March 16, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 323,651 times.
A newspaper article should provide an objective, factual account of an event, person, or place. Most newspaper articles are read quickly or skimmed by the reader, so the most important information should always appear first, followed by descriptive content that rounds out the story. By conducting research and following the correct organizational structure, you can create an informative newspaper article in no time.
Conducting Interviews and Research
- Your sources should be experts in the field your article is focusing on, such as a certified professional, a professor, or an academic. You can use sources that have extensive experience or background in a field that relates to your article.
- Sources like a witness to an event can also be useful, especially if they have first-hand experience of the topic you are covering.
- You may need to conduct more than 1 interview with your sources, especially if they are a major source for the article. You can also send follow-up questions to your sources as needed.
- You will need to transcribe your interviews by typing them up to ensure you quote your sources correctly. Having transcriptions will also make fact checking your article and backing up your sources much easier.
- Make sure you cite the information properly in your article by noting the name or organization that provided the information. You should have credible sources to back up any claims or arguments made in the article.
- If you are writing the newspaper article for an editor, they may require you to provide a list of your sources for the article to show you have fact checked your work.
Structuring the Article
- For example, you may create a headline like, “Teen Girl Missing in Okotoks” or “Congress Stalls on Family Planning Bill.”
- In some cases, it may be easier to save the headline for last, after you have written the article, so you know what the focus of the article is and can sum it up clearly.
- For example, you may write a lead like, "An outbreak of flu in San Francisco has led to 3 elementary school closings this week, according to school officials." Or, "A missing girl originally from Okotoks was found Monday in an abandoned cabin in the Minnetonka area, according to local police."
- For example, you may write, “10-12 students have been diagnosed with the flu and health officials fear it could continue to spread if it is not contained.”
- For example, you may write, “The teen girl was reported missing on Friday afternoon by her mother after she did not come home from a study date at a friend’s house. She is the second girl to be reported missing in the past 2 weeks from the Okotoks area.”
- For example, you may write, “‘The girl is shaken, but does not appear to have any serious injuries,’ stated local Police Chief Wilborn.” Or you may write, “According to a statement by school officials, ‘The shutdown will prevent the flu from spreading further and ensure the safety of our students.’”
- Avoid using long quotes or more than 4 quotes in the article, as the reader may get confused or lost if there are too many quotations.
- For example, you may write, “The girl’s mother expressed relief for her daughter and concern about her community, noting, ‘I just hope no other girls go missing in this area.’”
- Or you may write, “Local health officials are urging parents to check the municipal health and wellness website, www.hw.org, for updates on when schools are able to reopen.”
Creating the Appropriate Voice and Tone
- For example, rather than write, “The missing girl’s mother thought it had to do with school,” you may write, “The missing girl’s mother thought bullying at school may have caused her daughter’s absences.”
- For example, rather than write, “A press conference will be held by local police tomorrow to address the missing girls and the public’s concerns,” you may write, “Local police will address the missing girls and the public’s concerns in a press conference tomorrow.”
- For example, if you're writing about two political candidates running against each other in an election, present both candidates in an equal light, rather than giving extra details about 1 candidate.
- If you're writing an op-ed piece, it's okay to mix some of your opinions with the facts.
Polishing the Article
- Reading the article aloud can also help you catch any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.
- For example, you may ask others questions like, “Were you able to understand what happened, based on the information in the article?” “Was the language clear and easy to follow?” “Was the article well supported with sources and quotes?”
- If you are writing the newspaper article for a class, make sure it falls within the prescribed word limit for the assignment.
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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about writing as a career, check out our in-depth interview with Gerald Posner .
- ↑ https://guides.lib.vt.edu/researchmethods/interviews
- ↑ https://www.csus.edu/indiv/o/obriene/art116/readings/guide%20for%20conducting%20interviews.pdf
- ↑ https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2013/01/22/part-4-what-people-want-from-their-libraries/
- ↑ https://settlement.org/ontario/daily-life/communication/ethnic-and-cultural-media/what-is-fake-news-and-how-to-stop-spreading-misinformation/
- ↑ https://www.viasport.ca/communications-toolkit/module-4-how-write-engaging-sports-article
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/journalism_and_journalistic_writing/writing_leads.html
- ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/05/
- ↑ https://www.lib.sfu.ca/about/branches-depts/slc/writing/sources/quoting
- ↑ https://lib.trinity.edu/in-text-citation-and-notes//
- ↑ https://www.csus.edu/campus-safety/police-department/_internal/_documents/rwm.pdf
- ↑ https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf
About This Article
To write a newspaper article, gather all of your sources and verify any facts or sources you plan to use. Write an opening sentence that tells the readers the most essential details of the story. Write in third person, active voice, and maintain an authoritative tone throughout the article. Keep in mind the questions “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” and “How” when you’re writing your story, and try to answer as many of them as you can. When you’re finished writing the article, craft a short, engaging headline that tells readers what the article is about. To learn how reading your article out loud can help you proofread it, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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A Reporter Explains His Approach to Writing News and Features
Brooks Barnes, a correspondent who covers Hollywood for The Times, explains how his writing process changes depending on the type of article he is working on.
By Sarah Bahr
Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.
Brooks Barnes’s head is constantly on a swivel.
As a domestic correspondent covering Hollywood’s leading celebrities, companies and executives for The New York Times, he writes both daily news articles about media companies and long-lead features about subjects such as Walt Disney World’s animatronic robot crew and the Polo Lounge , a Hollywood hot spot that attracts the who’s who of the film industry.
Those two types of articles — news and features — are the yin and yang of journalism. As the name suggests, news articles provide readers with new information about important events, often as they unfold. They can cover nearly any topic, are generally 500 to 1,000 words long and are packed with the need-to-know facts of a given situation. Features, which need not be tied to a specific event, dive deep into a particular topic or person, are usually longer than news articles and often offer more comprehensive context about their subjects.
Every day, The Times publishes both. While many journalists specialize in writing news or feature articles, Mr. Barnes flips between the two.
“I have eight to 10 features on the assembly line at any given time,” Mr. Barnes said, adding that he often has to drop what he’s working on to chase the news and that he focuses on writing features when the news is slow. Generally, he can finish a news article in a couple of hours or less; a major feature can take upward of six months.
For Mr. Barnes, the main difference between a news article and a feature isn’t the word count, the number of interviews involved or how long he spends drafting it: “The writing process changes,” he says.
A news article is all about gathering the essential information and publishing quickly.
He begins working on a news article by making calls to sources, often contacts he has built up over more than 20 years of reporting. He says he jots down his most important questions before he calls a source, even if he’s on a deadline and knows the conversation will only last a few minutes.
For a feature, Mr. Barnes said he will do around 10 interviews, not all of which may appear in the final article. If he’s writing a profile, he aims to spend a few hours with his subject on a Friday or Saturday, when the person is more relaxed and available.
As with news articles, he writes out his interview questions in advance, though he tries not to do too much research before meeting a profile subject for the first time so that he won’t come into the interview with a preconceived idea of what the subject might say.
“You want to report, not interview your thumb,” he said.
Getting Down to Writing
Mr. Barnes never outlines his news or feature articles, but instead works off his notes, which he’ll consult as he’s writing.
He gathers all of his notes from his interviews and research, both typed and handwritten, and inputs the best quotes, facts and figures into a Microsoft Word document. Unlike a news article, a feature may involve several attempts at a compelling first few sentences — known as the lede — and lots of rewriting. “I’ve been known to fixate on a lede for much longer than I should,” he said.
Structurally, a news article is much more straightforward than a feature: In a news article, the most important and timely information appears in the first few sentences, with the remaining facts generally provided in descending order of importance. In a feature, by contrast, the writer often delays the revelation of certain details in order to build suspense.
Landing on the Voice
Another difference, Mr. Barnes said, is the voice that he interjects — or doesn’t — into an article. A news article is usually devoid of personal flavor, while a feature can be saturated with it. He says he sometimes tries to “self-censor” his voice in a news article. In a feature, there is room for more lyrical description; Mr. Barnes is able to dwell on how a subject dresses, talks and reacts to his questions.
Working on Edits
The editing process also differs. With features, it can involve lots of fine-tuning: Ledes may be thrown out and paragraphs rewritten. With a news article, an editor acts more like a safety net than a pruner or a polisher, ensuring that reporters on deadline aren’t overlooking important information or relevant questions, and that they aren’t committing any obvious factual errors.
Enjoying Both Forms
The greatest challenge in writing a news article, in Mr. Barnes’s opinion, is achieving both speed and accuracy on deadline. Features present a different conundrum: A writer must carefully condense hours of interviews and research into a gripping-yet-accurate narrative that doesn’t get bogged down with superfluous information.
Though Mr. Barnes says he enjoys both forms, he’s always had a clear preference.
“I’m a feature writer who’s somehow managed not to get fired as a business reporter for 20 years,” he said.
He added: “I like luxuriating over words and trying different stuff. I could tinker with a story forever.”
15 News Writing Rules for Beginning Journalism Students
The goal is to provide information clearly in common language
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- M.S., Journalism, Columbia University
- B.A., Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gathering information for a news article is vitally important, of course, but so is writing the story. The best information, put together in an overly intricate construction using SAT words and dense writing, can be difficult to digest for readers looking for a quick news fix.
There are rules for news writing that result in a clear, direct presentation, providing information efficiently and accessibly to a variety of readers. Some of these rules conflict with what you might have learned in English Lit.
Here's a list of 15 rules for beginning news writers, based on the problems that crop most frequently:
Tips for News Writing
- Generally speaking, the lede , or introduction to the story, should be a single sentence of 35 to 45 words that summarizes the main points of the story, not a seven-sentence monstrosity that looks like it's out of a Jane Austen novel.
- The lede should summarize the story from start to finish. So if you're writing about a fire that destroyed a building and left 18 people homeless, that must be in the lede. Writing something like "A fire started in a building last night" doesn't have enough vital information.
- Paragraphs in news stories should generally be no more than one or two sentences each, not the seven or eight sentences you probably wrote for freshman English. Short paragraphs are easier to cut when editors are working on a tight deadline, and they look less imposing on the page.
- Sentences should be kept relatively short, and whenever possible use the subject-verb-object formula. Backward constructions are harder to read.
- Always cut unnecessary words. For example, "Firefighters arrived at the blaze and were able to put it out within about 30 minutes" can be shortened to "Firefighters doused the blaze in 30 minutes."
- Don't use complicated-sounding words when simpler ones will do. A laceration is a cut; a contusion is a bruise; an abrasion is a scrape. A news story should be understandable to everyone.
- Don't use the first-person "I" in news stories.
- In Associated Press style, punctuation almost always goes inside quotation marks. Example: "We arrested the suspect," Detective John Jones said. (Note the placement of the comma.)
- News stories are generally written in the past tense.
- Avoid the use of too many adjectives. There's no need to write "the white-hot blaze" or "the brutal murder." We know fire is hot and that killing someone is generally pretty brutal. Those adjectives are unnecessary.
- Don't use phrases such as "thankfully, everyone escaped the fire unhurt." Obviously, it's good that people weren't hurt. Your readers can figure that out for themselves.
- Never inject your opinions into a hard-news story. Save your thoughts for a review or editorial.
- When you first refer to someone in a story, use the full name and job title if applicable. On all subsequent references, use just the last name. So it would be "Lt. Jane Jones" when you first mention her in your story, but after that, it would simply be "Jones." The only exception is if two people with the same last name are in your story, in which case you could use their full names. Reporters generally don't use honorifics such as "Mr." or "Mrs." in AP style. (A notable exception is The New York Times .)
- Don't repeat information.
- Don't summarize the story at the end by repeating what's already been said. Try to find information for the conclusion that advances the story.
- Avoid the Common Mistakes That Beginning Reporters Make
- Learn to Write News Stories
- Six Tips for Writing News Stories That Will Grab a Reader
- 10 News Writing Exercises for Journalism Students
- 5 Key Ingredients for Great Feature Stories
- How to Avoid Burying the Lede of Your News Story
- Use Verbs and Adjectives to Brighten up Your News Stories
- 10 Important Steps for Producing a Quality News Story
- How to Write Feature Stories
- How to Write a News Article That's Effective
- Constructing News Stories with the Inverted Pyramid
- Tips for Writing Broadcast News Copy
- These Are Frequently Used Journalism Terms You Need to Know
- Writing a Lead or Lede to an Article
- The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
- How to Write a Personal Narrative
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How to Write a News Article: Writing News Style
- What Is News?
- How to Interview
- The Intro or Lede
- Article Format/Narrative
- How To Write A Review
- Writing News Style
- Naming Sources
- The Future of News?
About News Style
American journalism has a long history of objectivity – telling a balanced story fairly without taking sides. The reporter tries to include all sides and leave out his or her personal views or opinions, never using the word “I.” He or she tries to write so that one side or another doesn’t get more coverage and reports only verified information.
However, sometimes “just the facts” doesn’t tell the whole story. A good reporter cares about the story and wants to make a connection with the reader. Here’s what you need to consider to successfully do that in news:
- It’s always a good idea to ask, “Is there more to this story?”
For example – A house catches fire and burns down before help can arrive. Is it just a single accident or is it an example of a problem with roads or the fire department?
- Adding the personal touch can enhance your story OR turn away readers. What response are you hoping for? How has your audience reacted before?
In the example above - A family may have lost their home. Their experience may be a powerful, moving addition to the story. Or it could be just one more sad story that the public has learned to ignore.
- Have you covered the story? Have you included all the necessary facts?
For example – Someone may claim to be a victim of police brutality. That could be a dramatic story, but if that person also has a criminal record, is his or her story credible? A good reporter includes both sides so the reader can draw their own conclusion.
- Include more information through linking . Provide additional websites where readers can go to explore topics further.
Sites should be live with a named author. You lose crediblity if you link to someone unknown or unreliable. Provide multiple links for all side to an argument. Don't slant your story by only providing additional or credible information for one side.
- Analysis is becoming more important today as breaking stories are being reported as they happen via Twitter. When putting the story in context, have you made a well-reasoned case?
In the example above - You might discuss an increase or decrease in violence as a result of the bad economy or as the result of a change in city policy. You could support your assessment with public records. If you attributed the increase in violence to the full moon, how would you substantiate your view?
- Have you made your involvement in the story transparent?
If you have a personal connection to the story, make it clear in a distinct paragraph. If you’re writing about education, you should indicate if you’re a teacher, have children, or what your interest is in education. This lets the reader evaluate your credibility along with the story.
More on Objectivity
- 10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them
- Ben Huh says journalistic objectivity is a trap
- Objectivity in the Age of Social Media
- Objectivity v Transparency
- Public Journalism and the Problem of Objectivity
- Questioning Journalistic Objectivity
- What the Mainstream Media Can Learn From Jon Stewart
- Why Journalists Should Not Abandon Objectivity
- ‘Objective’ journalism is over
- Is your journalism ethical?
- Journalistic Guidelines
- NPR Ethics Handbook
- SPJ Code of Ethics
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How to Write a News Story
Newspaper article outline, how to write a news story in 15 steps.
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The Purdue Owl : Journalism and Journalistic Writing: Introduction
From Scholastic: Writing a newspaper article
I. Lead sentence
Grab and hook your reader right away.
Which facts and figures will ground your story? You have to tell your readers where and when this story is happening.
III. Opening quotation
What will give the reader a sense of the people involved and what they are thinking?
IV. Main body
What is at the heart of your story?
V. Closing quotation
Find something that sums the article up in a few words.
VI. Conclusion (optional—the closing quote may do the job)
The following is an excerpt from The Elements of News Writing by James W. Kershner (Pearson, 2009). This book is available for checkout at Buley Library (Call number PN 4775 .K37 2009, on the 3rd floor)
1. Select a newsworthy story. Your goal is to give a timely account of a recent, interesting, and significant event or development.
2. Think about your goals and objectives in writing the story. What will the readers want and need to know about the subject? How can you best tell the story?
3. Find out who can provide the most accurate information about the subject and how to contact that person. Find out what other sources you can use to obtain relevant information.
4. Do your homework. Do research so that you have a basic understanding of the situation before interviewing anyone about it. Check clips of stories already written on the subject.
5. Prepare a list of questions to ask about the story.
6. Arrange to get the needed information. This may mean scheduling an interview or locating the appropriate people to interview.
7. Interview the source and take notes. Ask your prepared questions, plus other questions that come up in the course of the conversation. Ask the source to suggest other sources. Ask if you may call the source back for further questions later.
8. Interview second and third sources, ask follow-up questions, and do further research until you have a understanding of the story.
9. Ask yourself, “What’s the story?” and “What’s the point?” Be sure you have a clear focus in your mind before you start writing. Rough out a lead in your head.
10. Make a written outline or plan of your story.
11. Write your first draft following your plan, but changing it as necessary.
12. Read through your first draft looking for content problems, holes, or weak spots, and revise it as necessary. Delete extra words, sentences, and paragraphs. Make every word count.
13. Read your second draft aloud, listening for problems in logic or syntax.
14. Copyedit your story, checking carefully for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style problems.
15. Deliver your finished story to the editor before deadline.
Kershner, J.W. (2009). The Elements of News Writing. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
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How to Write a Newspaper Article?
Writing a newspaper article is unlike writing other informative articles because a news article delivers content in a particular way. It’s essential to present information within a limited word count and to do so in a way that answers the five “W’s”: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
Table of Contents
Six parts of a newspaper article, how to write a newspaper article for school, how to write a newspaper article about an event, how to make a newspaper article in a short timeline, how to write a news article overnight, how to get a newspaper to write an article about you.
This article will show you how to write a newspaper article for any school level. Learning this important skill may pave the way for a career in journalism, so we’re going to address several questions we get from students who are looking to learn how to write a good newspaper article that presents information clearly and concisely.
Before we jump into how to write a newspaper article it’s important to identify the 6 parts that make up the article. Following this newspaper article format ensures that you incorporate all of the necessary components that make for a great article:
- Headline – This succinctly tells the reader exactly what the news story is about in a single phrase or sentence (e.g., Cavs Expected to Land #1 Pick ).
- Sub-Title – This supports the headline by expanding on the subject in one or two sentences (e.g., The Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to trade up with Golden State Warriors to pick #1 in next year’s draft ).
- Byline – This line tells the reader who wrote the story and may provide some background information (e.g., John Smith – 20+ Years of Covering Cleveland Sports ).
- Lead – The opening paragraph should tell all of the most important facts, addressing the who, what, where, when, and why).
- Body – This constitutes the majority of the article, containing more information on a piece of news.
- Quotes – These important because they provide direct sources for information from eyewitness, experts, and other people relevant to the news story.
Students of all levels want that need to learn how do you write a newspaper article find this simple 3-step process to be the most helpful. You can apply this to any type of article with just a few adjustments. Read this process carefully before starting on your assignment to ensure you understand it. This will prevent you from making mistakes and having to start over.
- Research your topic as much as possible before you get started. For your persuasive article to be viewed as credible, you must know your topic inside and out. Start by answering the 5 W’s we mentioned earlier. It’s advised you have a dedicated notebook or note cards to gather all of the related facts about the story.
- Next, you need to organize your facts . A great way of doing so is to break up your facts into three categories: 1) facts that must be included, 2) facts that are interesting but not essential, and 3) facts that are related but are not important to the main purpose. You want to be as detailed as possible when listing your facts. You can always cut out excess information when you start writing, reviewing, and editing the article.
- Create an outline to guide your writing. Many students want to learn how to write a newspaper article example so that they have a template they can keep referring to as they write more pieces. This is a great idea but it is much easier to find a few stories of similar style and length and then to build a good outline following the professionals.
- There are six parts to any news article which we have already mentioned. Leave the header, sub-header, and byline until the end. Start with the lead . This is the opening paragraph that provides all of the important details the reader must know to understand the rest of the article.
- After listing all of the most important factual information in the opening paragraph, follow up with additional content in the article’s body. There is no set amount of sentences or the number of paragraphs for the article. This will be determined by the specified word count which will vary from assignment to assignment. Try to keep your paragraphs short for improved readability.
- Finally, conclude your article with a strong sticking point that rewards the reader for sticking with you to the end. You can close by restating the opening statement or by giving some idea about anticipated future developments. You can also give the reader information for a call to action (e.g., a phone number or an address) he or she may be interested in knowing about.
- The reviewing, editing, and proofreading exercises for a newspaper article are the same as for any other writing assignment. Try doing each of these exercises separately, giving yourself plenty of time in between to ensure that you always approach the writing with renewed vigor and a fresh perspective. If you use a newspaper article generator, make sure you double-check grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Even the most sophisticated electronic programs can make some costly mistakes that could keep your piece from being published.
Many students get started learning how to write a newspaper article based on an event. This could be something planned for the school or the community. Students can report on the event before it occurs or can report on the event after it takes place. In both cases, the above 3-step process can be used to cover all the important details that a reader would like to know about. Time-management is very important since the event in question will occur at a specific date and time, so students must be fully prepared.
What we mean by a short timeline is having to write a news story within a couple of days. This is the situation most journalists find themselves in. They are often given a story to research and report on and are required to submit a polished article to be published online or in print while the story is still fresh. You can follow the same 3-step process discussed above which should come naturally with plenty of dedicated practice.
If you need to learn how to write an article for a newspaper overnight (which is common situation journalists face when there is breaking news), you follow the same steps we’ve covered above but cut some corners to get the article to the publisher early in the morning. Generally, you can combine the reviewing, editing, and proofreading exercises or you can minimize the time you spend in between each of these to just a few minutes.
The fastest and easiest way to get a newspaper to write a story about you is to be involved in an important event or a situation that generates plenty of interest locally or nationally. Several local newspapers do human interest stories as well. You simply need to have a good story to tell. Perhaps you can discuss your involvement with the community or you can explain a unique story that inspires others. Most of the time newspapers will come to you, but you can also submit your ideas for an interview.
If you need more assistance on writing a persuasive news article or any other type of writing, our academic experts are ready to help. We can show you how to write a newspaper article template or an outline. We can review, edit, and write an article on any piece of news you have. Just email, call or chat with one of our friendly customer support staff members and he or she will connect you with a writing expert.
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How To Write a News Article (+4 Tools, Examples & Template)
By Dmytro Spilka
Nov 6, 2019
By the late 1400s, the printing press had been perfected, and Germany began publishing pamphlets containing news content. Realising the power of printed news, several papers in London became popularised in the years following 1621.
Almost 400 years later, the transition from print to online has had a profound impact on the way we consume news and subsequently, how we create it. You’ve probably already noticed that the morning paper covers the news that was instantaneously delivered to your mobile device the night before.
The nature of online news reporting allows journalists to simultaneously watch an event unfold and update their readers in real-time. Both print and online news articles aim to discuss current or recent news in local happenings, politics, business, trade, technology and entertainment.
Typically, a news article on any topic and at any level will contain 5 vital components for success . This is what separates news-article writing from other forms of writing.
These 5-12 words should deliver the gist of the whole news. In most cases, it’s important not to play with words or to be too cryptic. A news article headline should be clear and succinct and tell the reader what the article is about. Should they find the topic interesting, they will probably read the article.
Whilst headlines should be clear and matter-of-fact, they should also be attention-grabbing and compelling. According to some sources, eight out of ten people will read headline copy and only two will continue to read the rest of the article (Campaign). So, if 80% of people are unlikely to ever make it past the headline, there is plenty of room to spend extra time in crafting the perfect headline for your news article.
This BBC headline definitely makes people give it a second look. At first glance, you probably noticed the words “Goat” and “Ronald Reagan” and wondered what on earth has brought this farm animal and 80s U.S. president to exist within the same sentence- let alone the same headline . Closer inspection lets the reader know that the article is about goats’ helping to save the Presidential library in the California fires. Most would want to know how, so they read on.
Put simply, this string of words tells people who wrote the article and is usually prefaced by the word ‘by’. This component really depends on the company you write for. Whilst most magazines and newspapers use bylines to identify journalists, some don’t. The Economist, for example, maintains a historical tradition where bylines are omitted and journalists remain anonymous. In such cases, the news article reflects the publication as a whole.
3. Lead paragraph
This is the section to get straight down to the facts and there is no time for introductions. A lead paragraph must be constructed to attract attention and maintain it. To do this, the basic news points and facts should be relayed without digressing into detail or explanation. Those are forthcoming in the next section of the article.
Included in the lead are what journalists refer to as the 5 Ws: Who, what, when, where and why. To some extent, by simply stating each W, some form of lead is automatically formed. For example; “ An off duty nurse and paramedic used a makeshift tourniquet to save the life of British tourist whose foot was bitten off by a shark in Australia on Tuesday”.
- Who – an off duty nurse and paramedic and a British tourist
- What – built a makeshift tourniquet
- When – Tuesday 29th October 2019 (article published Wednesday 30th October 2019)
- Where – Australia
- Why – to save the life of the British tourist
This should conclude your lead paragraph and have your readers engaged and interested to learn more about the news. Resist the temptation to include additional details about the event as they have no place here. Structure is everything and you wouldn’t want to mess up the flow of the overall piece.
A good place to start when writing the paragraph that follows your lead is to jump into the shoes of your readers and think about what they might want to know next. What are the factors that seem obscure, or most fascinating and is there scope to delve into more explanatory detail to put it into the wider context?
To do this well, the writer must have access to the answers to these questions.
Expanding on the details of your 5 Ws is all about providing in-depth coverage on all the important aspects of your news. Here, you should reflect on your first-hand information. Add relevant background information that explores the wider context. In other words, consider whether this story has implications on anything else.
Include supporting evidence in this section. This can take the form of quotations from people involved or opinions of industry experts. Referring to credible sources in your news article will add value to the information you publish and help to validate your news.
Ensure that the use of your quotations add value and are informative. There is little use in providing a quote that doesn’t shed light on new information. If the point has been made clear in your lead paragraph – there is no need to repeat it here.
For example, “An off duty nurse saved the life of a British tourist’, said Police Chief John Adams.” This quote tells the reader what they already know as this is the information stated in the lead.
Rather, “It was a long way back to shore and if he continued to bleed that much all the way back I’m not sure he’d have made it” – said Emma Andersson, off duty nurse.’ The inclusion of this quote gives a deeper insight into the severity of the incident and adds value to the article.
5. Additional information
This space is reserved for information of less relevance. For example, if the news article is too long, get the main points down in the preceding paragraphs and then make a note of the trivial details. This part can also include information about similar events or facts that somewhat relate to the news story.
What makes a news article so powerful
The ultimate aim of a news article is to relay information in a specific way that is entertaining, informative, easily digestible and factual . For a news article to be effective, it should incorporate a range of writing strategies to help it along. It should be:
Active not passive
Writing in the active tense creates a more personal link between the copy and the reader. It’s more conversational and has been found to engage the audience more. It also requires fewer words, so shorter and snappier sentences can be formed.
For example “A British tourist’s life was saved by an off duty nurse” is longer and less colloquial than “An off duty nurse saved a British tourists’ life”. The latter is easily understood, more conversational and reads well.
Positive, not negative
Whilst it is true that certain publications might use language to swing the sentiment of their copy, news should give the reader the information they need to inform their own opinion . The best way to do this is to avoid being both negative or positive. A neutral tone reads well and draws attention to key issues.
It’s often more effective if your news article describes something that is actually happening rather than something that’s not. For example, rather than stating that “the government has decided not to introduce the planned tuition funding for university students this academic year” a more palatable account of the event would be “the government has abandoned plans to fund university tuition this academic year”.
We now know that the use of quotations belongs in your explanatory paragraph. They validate what you’ve said and inject emotion and sentiment to your copy. But what makes a good quote? And how and when are they useful?
Writers should be able to differentiate between effective and ineffective quotes. They should also appreciate that a poorly selected quote placed in an inappropriate paragraph has the power to kill the article.
Consider who you are quoting. Is their opinion of interest to your readers? Quotes that are too long can grind on your reader’s attention. Especially if they are from bureaucrats, local politicians or generally just boring people with nothing significant to say. Rather, the shorter and snappier the quote, the better. Bald facts, personal experiences or professional opinions can add character and depth to the facts you’ve already laid out.
Direct quotes provide actuality. And Actuality provides your article with validation. Speeches and reports are a great source of quotes by people that matter to your story. Often such reports and transcripts can be long and tiresome documents. Great journalistic skill is to be able to find a usable quote and shorten it to make it more comprehensible. Second to this skill is to know precisely when the actual words used by a person should be quoted in full.
Remember, people ‘say’ things when they speak. They don’t “exclaim, interject, assert or opine”. Therefore, always use the word “said” when attributing a quote. For example, “three arrests were made on the scene” said PC Plum.
Sound use of adjectives
The golden rule here is that adjectives should not raise questions in the reader’s mind, rather they should answer them. Naturally, an adjective raises further questions. For example:
- ‘Tall’ – how tall?
- ‘Delightful’ – according to whom?
- ‘Massive’ – relative to what?
Unless followed by further information, adjectives can be subjective. However, this isn’t always bad. If they contribute to the relevance of the story, keep them. Just be sure to ponder each one as to whether they raise more questions in the reader’s mind.
Lastly, it’s always better to approach news-style writing directly and specifically. Use words like ‘gold, glitter, silver,’ instead of ‘bright and sparkly’. Being specific isn’t dull or boring. It allows readers’ to follow the article with a more accurate understanding of the news. Vagueness does not.
No Jargon or abbreviations
Those working in an organisation or specific industry will often take for granted the fact they’re surrounded by jargon. It’s a convenient and efficient way to communicate with those who also understand it. These terms become somewhat of a secret language that acts to exclude those on the outside. This must be assumed at all times when writing news. There’s no telling whether an article on a new medical breakthrough will be read solely by medical practitioners and scientists. In fact, it almost certainly won’t be.
If readers feel lost in your article or have to look elsewhere for explanations and definitions of acronyms and abbreviations, it’s unlikely they’ll return. The rule here is to avoid them or explain them.
Be cautious with puns and cliches
Over and over you hear them and rarely do they evoke any positive response; cliches have no place in your news article. Yet, as for puns, lots of headline writers find these neat little linguistic phrases irresistible.
The problem is, they can be just as exclusive as unrecognisable jargon. References to the past that are well received by readers over 55 years old, means risking a large portion of readers being left out.
Is there a tasteful and refined way to use puns, cliches or metaphors ? Yes, but one always bears the risk of some readers not understanding and abandoning the article altogether. Take the following example:
The Sun’s headline “Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious” echoing Liverpool’s earlier “Super Cally goes ballistic, QPR atrocious”.
In all fairness, both are great puns and will have had most readers humming the Mary Poppins anthem all afternoon. But to fully appreciate this play on words, it helps to know that ‘Cally’ is the former footballer, Ian Callaghan and ‘Caley’ is the team Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Those with no interest or knowledge of football would have been immediately excluded from this article. However, given the fact that the article was clearly aimed at football enthusiasts or at least, fans, the aim was never to produce an all-inclusive article in the first place.
Write in plain English (make it easily digestible)
Articles written in plain English are easy to digest. This is especially important what discussing complex or technological news. Most readers won’t have the time to decipher cryptic or overly elaborate writing styles whilst keeping up with the news story being told.
Clear and unambiguous language, without technical or complex terms, should be used throughout. As the amount of news we consume each day has increased with the internet, mobile devices and push notifications, it is important to keep things simple. We now have the pleasure and task of retaining more news than ever before. This is easier to do when the news we consume is clear, succinct and written in plain English.
Be timely and up to date
News gets old fast. Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. So, timeliness in the news industry is imperative to its success. Similarly to freshly baked goods – news should be served fresh. Once it’s old and stale, nobody’s interested in it. Don’t, however, take the risk of serving it before it’s ready.
There is great skill attached to being a timely journalist. Capabilities must range from gathering research in good time, to writing content at speed and editing accurately under pressure. There are a few things you can do to help stay on top of the latest affairs and find time to write.
First, a conscious effort to stay up to date with news on all levels is necessary. That is international affairs, governmental, regional and local levels. You should have a solid awareness of ongoing issues and debates across all mediums. For example, If there’ve been developments on ongoing peace treaties, you should be able to pick up the news story as it is – without the need to revise the entire story.
It’s likely that you’ll be under the pressure of several tight deadlines. Don’t just keep them in mind, write them down. Keeping a content calendar is an effective way to organise your time and make sure you’re hitting all deadlines accordingly. Whether it’s your phone calendar or an actual deadline diary, a visual representation of time can help you distribute tasks and stick to a schedule.
Always be available when a press release comes your way. If you’re not there to cover the story, someone else will. Organise a backup just in case you’re unavailable to make sure all necessary information reaches you in emergency situations. Having such a plan in place can save time when it comes to researching and writing news articles. The writing process becomes easier when all the material is at hand.
Make it entertaining
A good news article will entertain its readers. To do so, the article should contain some human interest. In general, it’s been found that people are interested in the lives of other people. An article that appeals to the voyeuristic part of human nature is immediately entertaining.
For example, a flood in an empty building doesn’t have nearly as much human interest as a flood in a building full of people and belongings. Sad, but true. Simply because we identify with each other, we are interested in reading about each other too.
If your story has an interesting or relatable person at the heart of it, it should fuel your article . Tug at the emotional strings of your readers and make a connection between them and your story. Look hard enough, and you’ll find human interest everywhere. Writing a business article about a new project manager with a passion for bringing tropical fruit flavours to toothpaste? There’s human interest here. We all use toothpaste – whilst some will be onboard with this idea, others will scoff and remain faithful to their dependable mint flavoured paste.
Prepare to tap into your inner literary comic. If the story you’re working on is funny, don’t hold back. Just as most journalists enjoy working on a story that hits their ‘quirky button’, most readers will be more inclined to read a story that plays on their humour strings.
Fact check everything
‘Fake news’ has become a familiar term, especially for journalists. Unverified facts and misleading claims have blurred the line between journalism and other content creation. It’s now more important than ever to fact check everything .
A good PR tip is to avoid a reputation disaster rather than repair one. You do not want to fall into the category of fake news. This might drive away potential returning readers and significantly reduce readership.
Using statistics, figures and facts are a great way to add validity and actuality to your article. They lend themselves to originality and make your article more credible when used correctly. Without checking the authenticity of these facts, you risk delivering an article that is grounded in fiction.
News article writing tools
To hit the nail on the head and deliver a news article that is well researched, well written and well-received; take advantage of some online writing tools to help you along the way.
This free and comprehensive writing tool is practically everything you need to craft grammatically correct and error-free copy. Not only does it check your spelling and grammar, but punctuation too. Grammarly uses context-specific algorithms that work across different platforms to help make your content flow seamlessly throughout.
2. Headline Analyzer
Analyse your headlines for free and determine the Emotional Marketing Value score (EMV score). Headline analyzer analyses and scores your headlines based on the total number of EMV words it has. Headline Analyzer also tells you which emotion your headline most impacts, so you know whether you’re on the right track from the get-go. So, along with your score, you’ll find out which emotion your headline piques at, be it intellectual, empathetic or spiritual.
Writing for the web requires a distinctive set of skills than those required for print. The way readers use the online space and in particular, the search engines have changed the way they consume news. Ultimately, out of the millions of web pages, readers should be able to find yours.
Be mindful of the words you use in your article. Search engines assume that content that contains words or phrases that have or are likely to be searched by researchers, is more relevant content. As such, it bumps it up to higher-ranking positions.
You can easily find out which precise words have been in popular searches and which phrases you should incorporate into your article. Use Ahrefs Keywords Explorer tool to explore seed keywords, industry keywords, and generate keyword ideas.
You can also use Ahrefs Content Explorer to search for any keyword and get popular content that drives traffic.
4. Discussion forums
Online communities and discussion forums are a great source for journalists to broaden their network and keep up-to-date with the latest media news. Find useful tips and the latest news in the following groups:
- Journalists on Facebook, contains more than 1.3 million fans and over 9,000 journalists. It’s one of the most established journalism communities online. You’ll find inspiration and a place to find and discuss breaking news.
- LinkedIn for Journalists is a highly active community featuring a section dedicated to advice and discussion points for journalists. Take advantage of monthly free webinars that cover how to generate story leads, build sources and engage audiences.
- /r/journalism on Reddit, opens the door to nearly 10,000 members, posting questions, advice, interesting news stories and professional opinions on recent and breaking news. Not only is it a source of news stories, but also a place to find an extremely diverse mix of opinions and story angles.
A structural combination of the essential components of a news article , as noted in the first section of this post, will put you in the right direction. Once you have your framework – made up of a working headline, lead, preliminary explanation and additional notes – you can begin to pack it with all the elements that bring a news article to life.
Turn to Ahrefs and online communities for inspiration and make use of writing and editing tools like Grammarly for the entire process. This will save you time editing (crucial in the news media world) and improve the quality of your article to get it to the top of those SERPs.
Remember, there’s always a human interest, you just have to find it. It’s this element that will determine the level of engagement your article stimulates. Just keep in mind, most people are either interested in how a news story will affect their own lives or how another person’s life is being affected.
By the end of the process, you should have a news article that is in good shape and ready to entertain, educate, inspire or inform your readers. The last thing to do but certainly no less crucial is to fact check everything. A sub-editor can be handy when it comes to catching typos and picking up grammatical errors, but fact-checking is primarily down to the writer.
News Article FAQ
[sc_fs_multi_faq headline-0=”h3″ question-0=”How long should a news article headline be?” answer-0=”Headlines that are between 5-12 words (up to 65 characters) are generally more effective.” image-0=”” headline-1=”h3″ question-1=”How long should a news article be?” answer-1=”The word count is unlimited. It all depends on the nature of your news article. However, as a general rule, Google needs at least 300 words of content to grasp the context of the page.” image-1=”” headline-2=”h3″ question-2=”How to cite a news article?” answer-2=”Generally, you would need to add the name of the source, the name of the author and a hyperlink to the original source.” image-2=”” headline-3=”h3″ question-3=”How to fact check a claim, statement or statistics?” answer-3=”The claim, statement or statistics must be verifiable by a credible source. Context plays a massive role in fact-checking, hence, simply taking citing figures may not qualify as proper fact-checking.” image-3=”” count=”4″ html=”true” css_class=””]
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Writing the News: Different Formats and Their Functions
Choose a sign-in option, citation and embed code, standard 7.3: writing the news: different formats and their functions.
Explain the different functions of news articles, editorials, editorial cartoons, and “op-ed” commentaries. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T7.3]
FOCUS QUESTION: What are the Functions of Different Types of Newspaper Writing?
Newspapers include multiple forms of writing, including news articles, editorials, editorial cartoons, Op-Ed commentaries, and news photographs. Each type of writing has a specific style and serves a particular function.
News articles report what is happening as clearly and objectively as possible, without bias or opinion. In reporting the news, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics demands that reporters:
- Seek truth and report it
- Minimize harm
- Act independently
- Be accountable and transparent
Editorials, Editorial Cartoons, and Op-Ed Commentaries are forums where writers may freely express their viewpoints and advocate for desired changes and specific courses of action. In this way, these are forms of persuasive writing. Topic 4/Standard 6 in this book has more about the uses of persuasion, propaganda, and language in political settings.
Photographs can be both efforts to objectively present the news and at the same time become ways to influence how viewers understand people and events. Press Conferences are opportunities for individuals and representatives of organizations to answer questions from the press and present their perspectives on issues and events. Sports Writing is an integral part of the media, but the experiences for women and men journalists are dramatically different.
Check out Reading and Writing the News in our Bookcase for Young Writers for material on the history of newspapers, picture books about newspapers, and digital resources for reading and writing the news.
As students learn about these different forms of news writing, they can compose their own stories and commentaries about local and national matters of importance to them
Modules for This Standard Include:
- MEDIA LITERACY CONNECTIONS: News Photographs & Newspaper Design
- TEACHER-DESIGNED LEARNING PLAN: Composing Broadsides
- UNCOVER: Pioneering Women Cartoonists and Animators: Jackie Ormes, Dale Messick and More
- MEDIA LITERACY CONNECTIONS: How Reporters Report Events
1. INVESTIGATE: News Articles, Editorials, Editorial cartoons, Op-Ed Commentaries, Photographs, Press Conferences, and Sports Writing
Reporters of the news are obligated to maintain journalistic integrity at all times. They are not supposed to take sides or show bias in written or verbal reporting. They are expected to apply those principles as they write news articles, editorials, editorial cartoons, Op-Ed commentaries, take news photographs, and participate in press conferences.
You can find resources for Reading and Writing the News in Chapter 6 of our Bookcase for Young Writers.
News Articles and the Inverted Pyramid
News articles follow an Inverted Pyramid format. The lead, or main points of the article—the who, what, when, where, why and how of a story—are placed at the top or beginning of the article. Additional information follows the lead and less important, but still relevant information, comes after that. The lead information gets the most words since many people read the lead and then skim the rest of the article.
Editorials are written by the editors of a newspaper or media outlet to express the opinion of that organization about a topic. Horace Greeley is credited with starting the “Editorial Page” at his New York Tribune newspaper in the 1840s, and so began the practice of separating unbiased news from clearly stated opinions as part of news writing ( A Short History of Opinion Writing , Stony Brook University).
Editorial or Political Cartoons
Editorial cartoons (also known as political cartoons) are visual images drawn to express opinions about people, events, and policies. They make use of satire and parody to communicate ideas and evoke emotional responses from readers.
There are differences between a cartoon and a comic. A “cartoon usually consists of a single drawing, often accompanied by a line of text, either in the form of a caption underneath the drawing, or a speech bubble.” A comic, by contrast, “comprises a series of drawings, often in boxes, or as we like to call them, ‘panels,’ which form a narrative” (Finck, 2019, p. 27).
An exhibit from the Library of Congress noted how political or editorial cartoons are “no laughing matter.” They are “pictures with a point” ( It's No Laughing Matter: Political Cartoons/Pictures with a Point , Library of Congress). Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes stated: “The job of the editorial cartoonist is to expose the hypocrisies and abuses of power by politicians and powerful institutions in our society” ( Editorial Cartooning, Then and Now , Medium.com, August 7, 2017).
Benjamin Franklin published the first political cartoon, “Join, or Die” in the Pennsylvania Gazette, May 9, 1754. Thomas Nast used cartoons to expose corruption, greed, and injustice in Gilded Age American society in the late 19th century. Launched in 1970 and still being drawn today in newspapers and online, Doonesbury by Gary Trudeau provides political satire and social commentary in a comic strip format. In 1975, Doonesbury was the first politically-themed daily comic strip to win a Pulitzer Prize. Editorial and political cartoons are widely viewed online, especially in the form of Internet memes that offer commentary and amusement to digital age readers.
Commentators including Communication professor Jennifer Grygiel have claimed that memes are the new form of political cartoons . Do you think that this is an accurate assertion? Compare the history of political cartoons outlined above with your own knowledge of memes to support your argument. What are the different perspectives?
Op-Ed Commentaries (Op-Ed means "opposite the editorial page") are written essays of around 700 words found on, or opposite, the editorial page of newspapers and other news publications. They are opportunities for politicians, experts, and ordinary citizens to express their views on issues of importance. Unlike news articles, which are intended to report the news in an objective and unbiased way, Op-Ed commentaries are opinion pieces. Writers express their ideas and viewpoints, and their names are clearly identified so everyone knows who is the author of each essay. The modern Op-Ed page began in 1970 when the New York Times newspaper asked writers from outside the field of journalism to contribute essays on a range of topics ( The Op-Ed Page's Back Pages , Slate , September 27, 2010). Since then, Op-Ed pages have become a forum for a wide expression of perspectives and viewpoints.
Photographs are a fundamental part of newspapers today. We would be taken back and much confused to view a newspaper page without photographs and other images including charts, graphs, sketches, and advertisements, rendered in black and white or color. Look at the front page and then the interior pages of a major daily newspaper (in print or online) and note how many photographs are connected to the stories of the day.
The first photograph published in a US newspaper was on March 4, 1880. Prior to then, sketch artists created visual representations of news events. The New York Illustrated News began the practice of regularly featuring photographs in the newspaper in 1919 (Library of Congress: An Illustrated Guide/Prints and Photographs ).
From that time, photography has changed how people receive the news from newspapers. The 1930s to the 1970s have been called a "golden age" of photojournalism . Publications like the New York Daily News, Life, and Sports Illustrated achieved enormous circulations. Women became leaders in the photojournalist field: Margaret Bourke -White was a war reporter; Frances Benjamin Johnson took photos all over the United States; Dorothea Lange documented the Great Depression; the site Trailblazers of Light tells the hidden histories of the pioneering women of photojournalism. Also check out "What Is The Role of a War Correspondent?" later in this topic.
For an engaging student writing idea, check out A Year of Picture Prompts: Over 160 Images to Inspire Writing from the New York Times.
A press conference is a meeting where news reporters get to ask public figures and political leaders (including the President of the United States) questions about major topics and issues. In theory, press conferences are opportunities for everyone in the country to learn important information because reporters ask tough questions and political leaders answer them openly and honestly. In fact, as Harold Holzer (2020) points out in the study of The Presidents vs. The Press , there has always been from the nation's founding "unavoidable tensions between chief executives and the journalists who cover them."
The first Presidential press conference was held by Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Calvin Coolidge averaged about 74 press conferences annually during his Presidency, although these were informal, off-the-record conversations and reporters could not use the information without the President's permission.
Every President since has met with the press in this conference format, although the meetings continued to be "off the record" (Presidents could not be quoted directly) until the Eisenhower Presidency. In March 1933, Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to hold a formal press conference. President Eisenhower held the first televised press conference on January 19, 1955.
John F. Kennedy transformed the Presidential Press Conference into a media event; you can watch the video of Kennedy's first televised press conference here .
Franklin D. Roosevelt held the most press conferences (881; twice a week during the New Deal and World War II); Richard Nixon the fewest (39) (quoted from Presidential Press Conferences , The American Presidency Project).
Donald Trump changed the news conference format dramatically, often turning meetings with the press into political campaign-style attacks on reporters, "fake news," and political opponents. He regularly answered only the questions he wanted to answer while walking from the White House to a waiting helicopter; this "chopper talk" -- in Stephen Colbert's satirical term, since it does not have a formal question and answer format -- enabled the President to tightly control the information he wanted to convey to the public ( Politico , August 28, 2019).
Presidents are not the only ones who participate in press conferences. Public officials at every level of government are expected to answer questions from the news media. Corporate executives, sports figures and many other news makers also hold press conferences. All of these gatherings are essential to providing free and open information to every member of a democratic society, but only when reporters ask meaningful questions and public officials answer them in meaningful ways.
Sports Writing/Sports Journalism
Sports writing is the field of journalism that focuses on sports, athletes, professional and amateur leagues, and other sports-related issues ( Sports Writing as a Form of Creative Nonfiction ). Sports writing in the U.S. began in the 1820s, with coverage of horse racing and boxing included in specialized sports magazines. As newspapers expanded in the 19th century, the so-called “penny press,” editors and readers began demanding sports content. In 1895, William Randolph Hearst introduced the first separate sports section in his newspaper, The New York Journal ( History of Sports Journalism: Part 1 ).
Throughout the 20th century, sports writing emerged as a central part of print newspapers and magazines (the famous magazine Sports Illustrated began in 1954). Reporters and columnists followed professional teams, often traveling with them from city to city, writing game stories and human interest pieces about players and their achievements.
Earl Warren, the former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, is reported to have said that he always read the sports pages of the newspaper first because “the sport section records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.” Warren’s comment speaks to the compelling place that sports have in American culture, daily life, and media. Millions of people follow high school sports, college teams, and professional leagues in print and online media.
Importantly, as the blogger SportsMediaGuy points out, Earl Warren’s quote can be read as if the sports and sports pages were an escape room where only positive things happen and the inequalities and inequities of society never intrude. Nothing can be further from everyday reality. Sports mirror society as a whole, and issues of class, race, gender, economics, and health are present on playing fields, in locker rooms, and throughout sports arenas.
The history of women sportswriters is a striking example of how the inequalities of society manifest themselves in sports media. Women have been writing about sports for a long time, however, not many people know the history. Sadie Kneller Miller was the first known woman to cover sports when she reported on the Baltimore Orioles in the 1890s, but "with stigma still attached to women in sports, Miller bylined her articles using only her initials, S.K.M., to conceal her gender" ( Archives of Maryland - Sadie Kneller Miller, para. 3 ).
Between 1905 and 1910, Ina Eloise Young began writing about baseball for the local Trinidad, Colorado newspaper before moving on to the Denver Post where she became a “sporting editor” in 1908, covering the town’s minor league team and the 1908 World Series ( Our Lady Reporter’: Introducing Women Baseball Writers, 1900-30 ). New Orleans-based Jill Jackson became one of the few female sports reporters on television and radio in the 1940s ( Jill Jackson: Pioneering in the Press Box ). Phyllis George, the 1971 Miss America pageant winner, joined CBS as a sportscaster on the television show The NFL Today in 1975.
The histories of women writing about sports revealed the tensions of sexism and gender discrimination. Many of the early female sports reporters encountered various levels of threatening and harmful treatment upon entering the locker room. Some were physically assaulted. Others were sexually abused or challenged by the players in sexually inappropriate ways ( Women in Sports Journalism , p.iv).
You can read more in Lady in the Locker Room by Susan Fornoff who spent the majority of the 1980s covering the Oakland Athletics baseball team and listen to a 2021 podcast in which Julie DiCaro discusses her new book, Sidelined: Sports, Culture and Being a Woman in America .
Women today continue to face widespread gender discrimination in what is still a male-dominated sports media. In 2019, 14% of all sports reporters are women and women’s sports only account for about 4% of sports media.
Media Literacy Connections: News Photographs & Newspaper Design
Photographs in print newspapers and online news sites convey powerful messages to readers and viewers, but they are not to be viewed uncritically.
Every photo represents a moment frozen in time. What happened before and after the photo was taken? What else was happening outside the view of the camera? Why did the photographer take the photo from a certain angle and perspective? Why did a newspaper editor choose to publish one image and not another?
The meaning of a news photograph depends on multiple levels of context as well as how each of us interpret its meaning.
The following activities will provide you with an opportunity to act as a critical viewer of newspaper photographs and as a member of a newspaper design team who must decide what photographs to incorporate in a class newspaper.
- Activity 1: Analyze Newspaper Photographs
- Activity 2: Design a Class Newspaper with Photos and Images
Suggested Learning Activities
- What differences to you see in the topics and sports that women reporters and columnists cover and write about?
- What differences to you see in their roles and the roles of male reporters?
- Compose a Broadside About a Historical or Contemporary Issue
- A broadside is a strongly worded informational poster that spreads criticisms of people or policies impacting a group or community. It contains statements attacking a political opponent or political idea, usually displayed on single large sheets of paper, one side only, and is designed to have an immediate emotional impact on readers .
Teacher-Designed Learning Plan: Composing Broadsides
History teacher Erich Leaper has students construct broadsides as a learning activity when teaching Op-Ed Commentaries. During colonial times, proponents of the American Revolution posted broadsides expressing their opposition to British colonial acts and policies. Broadsides were the social media and Op-Ed commentaries of the time.
Steps to follow:
- Begin by asking students to list actions or activities that are likely to upset you.
- Students in groups select one of five options: the Tea Act, Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Intolerable Acts, Quartering Act, and the Townshend Act.
- The teacher writes a broadside as a model for the students. Erich wrote his about the Sugar Act, entitling it "Wah! They Can't Take Away My Candy!"
- Researching and analyzing one of the acts, each group writes and draws a broadside expressing opposition to and outrage about the unfairness of the law.
- 1) An engaging title (like "Taxing Tea? Not for Me!" or "Call Them What They Are-- Intolerable " or "Stamp Out Injustice"
- 2) Summary of its claim in kid-friendly language;
- 3) A thesis statement of the group's viewpoint; and
- 4) At least 3 statements of outrage or opposition.
- Groups display their broadside posters around the classroom or in a virtual gallery.
- In their groups, students view all of the other broadsides and discuss how they would rate the Acts on an oppressiveness scale —ranging from most oppressive to least oppressive to the colonists.
- The assessment for the activity happens as each student chooses the top three most oppressive acts and explain her/his choices in writing.
Resources for writing colonial broadsides:
- Colonial Broadsides: A Student Created Play , Edsitement (NEH.gov)
- Printed Broadsides in the British American Colonies, 1700-1760 , National Humanities Center
- Broadsides and Their Music in Colonial America , Colonial Society of Massachusetts
Online Resources for Newspapers
- Writing a Newspaper Article , Scholastic (grades 3-8)
- Newspaper Article Format , Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
- A Good Lead Is Everything--Here's How to Write One , NPR Training
- Writing an Editorial , Alan Weintraut, Annandale (Virginia) High School
- Guidelines for Editorials , Santa Barbara City College
- Analyzing Political Cartoons (French Revolution Example) | Social Studies Samurai
- Chappatte stated: "Political cartoons were born with democracy, and they are challenged when freedom is challenged.”
- Suprani stated: "Dictators Hate Cartoons."
- Editorial Cartoons: An Introduction , The Ohio State University Department of History
- Editorial Cartoons: An Introduction , Teaching Tolerance Magazine
- Cartoon America , Library of Congress
- The Evolution of Political Cartoons through a Changing Media Landscape
- The First 150 Years of the American Political Cartoon , Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Cartoons for the Classroom , Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
- It's No Laughing Matter: Political Cartoons/Pictures with a Point , Library of Congress
- People of color were largely excluded from the photographic record.
2. UNCOVER : Pioneering Women Cartoonists and Animators: Jackie Ormes, Dale Messick, and More
The pioneering work of women cartoonists and animators is part of the overlooked and largely unknown history of technology and media in the mid-20th century.
Zelda “Jackie” Ormes is considered to be the first African American woman cartoonist. In comic strips that ran in Black-owned newspapers across the country in the 1940s and 1950s, she created memorable independent women characters, including Torchy Brown and Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger. Her characters were intelligent, forceful women and their stories addressed salient issues of racism and discrimination in African American life. In 1947, a Patty-Jo doll was the first African American doll based on a comic character; there was also a popular Torchy Brown doll.
Google honored Jackie Ormes with a Google Doodle slideshow and short biography on September 1, 2020.
Dale Messick , a pioneering female cartoonist, debuted the comic strip, Brenda Starr, Reporter on June 30, 1940. The comic ran for more than 60 years in hundreds of newspapers nationwide. Throughout its history, the creative team for the comic strip were all women, including the writers and artists who continued the strip after Messick retired in 1980. Based on the character, style, and beauty of Hollywood actress Rita Haywood, Brenda Starr was determined and empowered, lived a life of adventure and intrigue, and always got the news story she was investigating.
Joye Hummel was the first woman hired to write Wonder Woman comics - she wrote every episode between 1945 and 1947, but the writing credit went to "Charles Moulton," a pen name for William Moulton Marston , the inventor of the lie-detector test and the creator and first writer of the comic series. Hummel passed away in 2021 at age 97. A whole series of women (including birth-control pioneer Margaret Sanger's niece) were responsible for the development of the comic, noted historian Jill Lepore in her book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman (2015), which documented the evolution of the character from a strong feminist into a more male-like superhero.
Women also contributed immensely to cartoon animation and the development of animated films. Lillian Friedman Astor , who animated characters including Betty Boop and Popeye, is considered the first American woman studio animator -- all of her animation work was uncredited.
Watch an interview featuring Lillian Friedman Astor below. Retta Scott who worked on the movie Bambi and later produced Fantasia and Dumbo , was the first woman to receive screen credit as an animator on a Disney film.
To learn more, check out 7 Women Who Shaped Animated Films (and Childhoods) , Medium (August 8, 2019).
Suggested Learning Activity
Assess the Historical Impact of Jackie Ormes, Dale Messick and Other Women Cartoonists and Animators
- Jackie Ormes to Enter Will Eisner Comic Hall of Fame , Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- The Woman Whose 1940s Comics Starred Chic, Socially Aware Black Women ,VICE
- Farewell Brenda Starr: 70-Year-Old Reporter Faces Her Final Deadline , The Washington Post (December 9, 2010)
- She Changed the Comics: Pre-Code and Golden Age , Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- Brenda Starr, Reporter , America Comes Alive!
State Your View: Why is it difficult for women to enter and succeed in professions where there are mostly men?
- FYI: The Animation Guild, the union for animation artists, writers and technicians, has reported that only 25% of its members are women .
3. ENGAGE: How Are War Correspondents and War Photographers Essential to a Free Press?
War Correspondents and War Photographers have one of the most important and most dangerous roles in the news media. They travel to war zones, often right into the middle of actual fighting, to tell the rest of us what is happening to soldiers and civilians. Without their written reports and dramatic photos, the public would not know the extent of military activities or the severity of humanitarian crises.
War correspondence has a fascinating history. The Roman general Julius Caesar was the first war correspondent. His short, engagingly written accounts of military victories made him a national hero and propelled his rise to power (Welch, 1998). As a young man in the years between 1895 and 1900, Winston Churchill reported on wars in Cuba, India, the Sudan, and South Africa (Read, 2015).
Thomas Morris Chester, the only Black war correspondent for a major newspaper at the time of the Civil War, reported on the activities of African American troops during the final year of the war in Virginia for the Philadelphia Press ( Blackett , 1991). He had been a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts regiment - the first unit of African American soldiers in the North during the Civil War.
America's first female war correspondent was Nellie Bly who covered World War I from the front lines for five years for the New York Evening Journal . Peggy Hull Deuell was the first American woman war correspondent accredited by the U.S. government. Between 1916 and the end of World War II, she sent dispatches from battlefields in Mexico, Europe and Asia.
For 28 years, Martha Gellhorn covered fighting in the Spanish Civil War, World War II, Vietnam, the Middle East and Central America. Combat photojournalist Dickey Chapelle was the first American female war photographer killed in action in World War II. C atherine Leroy was the only non-military photographer to make a combat jump into Vietnam with the Sky Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. You can read more about Catherine Leroy, Frances Fitzgerald, and Kate Webb during the Vietnam War in the book You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War by Elizabeth Becker (Public Affairs, 2021).
Women have played essential roles in documenting the events of war. At the end of August, 1939, British journalist Clare Hollingworth was the first to report the German invasion of Poland that began World War II, what has been called "probably the greatest scoop of modern times" (as cited in Fox, 2017 , para. 6). It was her first week on the job (Garrett, 2016). In her book The Correspondents , reporter Judith Mackrell (2021) profiles the experiences of six women writers on the front lines during World War II: Martha Gellhorn, Clare Hollingworth, Lee Miller, Helen Kirkpatrick, Virginia Cowles, and Sigrid Schultz. These women faced the dangers of war and the bias of sexism, often having to hitchhike to the battlefield to get the story in defiance of rules against women in combat zones. You can go here to learn more about the pioneering women of photojournalism (CNN, March 8, 2023).
War correspondents and photojournalists face and sometimes met death. Ernie Pyle , who won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories about ordinary soldiers during World War II, was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire in 1945. Marie Colvin , who covered wars in Chechnya, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East was killed by the Syrian government shelling in 2012. When asked why she covered wars, Marie Colvin said, “what I write about is humanity in extremis, pushed the unendurable, and that it is important to tell people what really happens in wars—declared and undeclared” (quoted in Schleier, 2018, para. 8 ).
How did the lives and deaths of these two reporters and their commitment to informing others about war reflect the role and importance of a free press in a democratic society?
Media Literacy Connections: How Reporters Report Events
Print and television news reporters make multiple decisions about how they report the events they are covering, including who to interview, which perspective to present, which camera angles to use for capturing footage, and which audio to record. These decisions structure how viewers think about the causes and consequences of events.
In one notable historical example, historian Rick Perlstein (2020) described how, during the beginning of the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, ABC News vaulted to the top of the TV news show ratings with its late night broadcasts of " America Held Hostage: The Crisis in Iran" (the show that would soon be renamed Nightline ). The network focused on showing images of a burning American flag, embassy employees in blindfolds, Uncle Sam hanged in effigy, and increasingly more people watched the broadcast. Perlstein (2020) noted, "the images slotted effortlessly into the long-gathering narrative of American malaise, humiliation, and failed leadership" (p. 649) - themes Ronald Reagan would capitalize on during his successful 1980 Presidential campaign.
In the following activities, you will examine reporters' differences in coverage of the 2016 Hong Kong Protests and then you will act as a reporter and create or remix the news.
- Activity 1: Evaluate How Reporters Covered the 2016 Hong Kong Protests
- Activity 2: Report an Event From a Different Perspective
- Describe the life of Marie Colvin, Ernie Pyle, Dickey Chapelle or another war journalist or photographer and highlight their time spent covering war (see the online resources section below for related information).
- How do the lives and jobs of modern war correspondents compare and contrast to those in different historical time periods (i.e. American Revolution, the World War II, Vietnam War).
- Design a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video or podcast to convince politicians to provide war correspondents with mental health care support and services once they return from reporting in a war zone.
- Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States' Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations (2018)
- What do you and people in general know about these engagements? How are war correspondents covering these wars?
Online Resources for War Correspondents and Photojournalists
- War Correspondents Official Site on Amazon
- PODCAST: The Failings of War Photography , Anastasia Taylor-Lind
- BOOK: In Extremis: The Life and Death of War Correspondent Marie Colvin . Lindsey Hilsum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019)
- A New Biography of Marie Colvin, Eyewitness to War , NPR (November 4, 2018)
- Dickey Chapelle Biography
- The Brilliant Photos of the First American Female War Photographer Killed in Action
- Inside the Daring Life of a Forgotten Female War Photographer , National Geographic
- 6 Female Journalists of the World War II Era, Literary Ladies Guide
- Edith Wharton: War Correspondent , EDSITEment
- CNN's Interactive "Free Press: What's at Stake" - Media Martyrs: Among Those Who Died While Working as Journalists in the Past 15 Years
- Marguerite Higgins Hits Red Beach - She was the only woman who received a Pulitzer Prize for covering the Korean War in 1951.
- BOOK: The Women Who Wrote the War . Nancy Caldwell Sorel. New York: Arcade, 1999.
- Ernie Pyle: Wartime Columns , Indiana University
- Obituary: Ernie Pyle is Killed on Ie Island; Foe Fired When All Seemed Safe , The New York Times (April 19, 1945)
Standard 7.3 Conclusion
INVESTIGATE looked at news articles, editorials, political cartoons, Op-Ed commentaries, news photographs, and press conferences as formats where writers and artists report the news and also present their opinions and perspectives on events. ENGAGE explored the roles of war correspondents, using the historical experiences of Marie Colvin (writing 1979 to 2012) and Ernie Pyle (writing 1925 to 1945) as examples. UNCOVER told the stories of two important feminist comic strips drawn by pioneering women cartoonists, Jackie Ormes (writing 1930 to 1956) and Dale Messick (writing 1940 to 1980).
This content is provided to you freely by EdTech Books.
Access it online or download it at https://edtechbooks.org/democracy/writing_the_news .
How to write a news article
Writing a news story or newspaper article for school assignment can be stressful to many students. Unless you’re a Journalism major , this is the first time most students have ever written a news article or paper of any kind. If you need to know how to write a newspaper article, read on for great tips, examples, structure, and outline.
When writing your newspaper article, make sure it has several components.
- The first component should be an introductory paragraph where the reader learns who, what, when and where.
- The second component is body paragraphs . These will feature quotes from people such as the reporter or eyewitnesses to the event.
- A conclusion. Conclude with a closing paragraph that references all information in your article.
You may want to have a “by line” at the beginning of your article where you state who wrote the article. The by line could also include your position or role in a news event or a quote from a person that was interviewed for the article.
How to write a feature article
A good news article can be one of the most challenging types of writing for someone to do well, but also one of the most rewarding when it goes over well with an audience. In fact, many journalists will tell you that they find this type of work very difficult and stressful, since there are so many guidelines and details that need to be followed to produce a great piece. Before you attempt a story, it’s a good idea to learn what makes writing a news article work well.
Let us review the process of writing a newspaper article for school.
How to Write a News Story – 10 Steps
Here are 7 steps in writing a good news story for school or for your english or journalism class:
Choose a current, newsworthy event or topic to write about.
Conduct timely, in-person interviews with witnesses.
- Establish the “Four Main Ws”
Plan your article
Create an outline, write your first draft, insert quotations, research additional facts and figures, read your article out loud before publication, polish up your article for publishing.
Each of the step is discussed below:
First of all, you will need to choose a good topic for your article. Try to find something that is currently happening and important in the world. If you’re writing an article for school, it’s best if you pick something that interests you personally so that you can do some research about it and make your opinion known in the article.
How to find a news topic to write about:
- Look for popular news stories on the internet at websites like CNN News or BBC News .
- Watch the TV to see if any current topics are being covered.
- Ask your parents what they’ve been watching on TV and why it’s important.
- Read the newspaper to see what is trending.
- Read the flyers and posters around your house and school for inspiration!
Let’s say you want to write about the 2016 U.S elections and who you think will win the presidency. This is a good topic because politics are always ongoing and there is never a lack of topics for debates. You can look on news websites or search on social media websites such as Facebook to find new, incoming events that might be newsworthy. Or, you can also just stay up to date on the news by watching your local channel or reading the newspaper.
Once you have a identified a news topic, it’s time to get started!
This is a really important part of how to write a news story for your class or for your school newspaper. You need to get information from people who were actually there so that you can write about their experiences. Some of these people may include eyewitnesses or police officers who arrived at the scene of an accident. You should also interview people who have been affected by the issue or event that you are writing about.
For example, if you were writing a story on bullying in your school, you would want to talk with bullies and victims of bullying as well as teachers and staff members.
You should ask each person the same set of questions so that their answers can be compared later. You can also make it easier to compare answers by numbering each question in order.
For example, if you are interviewing three students about their experiences with bullying at your school, you could ask them questions 1-3 for the first student and 4-6 for the second student all while recording their responses or having another person take notes.
- What is your name?
- How long have you been bullied for?
- Have you ever seen another person being bullied at school?
Make sure to give each person a chance to tell you what they think about the issue, solution, or event that you are writing about. This means that you will have to ask them questions that they might not have felt comfortable answering on their own, such as “What do you think should be done to stop bullying?”
Sometimes people may not want to talk with you, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with what they have to say.
Establish the “Five Main Ws”
This is also called the Five Ws and One H. You should always answer Who, What, When, Where, Why and How when writing a newspaper article. The sixth question that journalists ask is “How much?” but in some cases, this can be included in the “What” question.
- Who: Who is the story about?
- What: What happened?
- When: When did it happen?
- Where: Where did it take place?
- Why: Why did this happen?
Before you start writing about an event or story, make sure that you understand what is happening and how it happened. You need to figure out the who, what, when, where and why of the story. You can do this by conducting good, in-person interviews with witnesses, experts and eyewitnesses of the event you are writing about.
List the important facts about your story. What makes this newsworthy to readers? Do you have any breaking details or hints of drama in your piece?
List possible interviewees for your article. You’ll want to include different people who could provide different perspectives on the topic if at all possible. For example, if you are writing an article about a new community centre opening in your neighbourhood, you will want to include the director of the community centre and other people who live in your area.
A good outline should be a short paragraph or a number of points that describes what you plan on writing about and how you intend to structure it. You should include information such as the topic, who you will be interviewing and what your article will include.
Now it’s time to put everything you’ve learned into practice! Make sure that your article flows well and is free of spelling or grammar errors before moving on to the next step. The most important thing here is to make sure you don’t miss anything, so make sure to read over your story a few times before proceeding further.
Once you have your facts straight about your article topic, it’s time to include quotes from people that were actually there and saw what happened. Try to use quotes that best describe the event in order to paint a vivid picture.
This is where you will include any additional information that you have found about your article topic during your research. You can also use this space to talk about various statistics related to the topic, for example how many people died because of the cause of your story or what cities are most affected by the event or issue.
This is an important part of how to write a news story because if you read it out loud, you can catch any mistakes that may have slipped through in your writing process. No matter how great the rest of your article was written, if there are typos or grammatical errors, it will probably be rejected by the news website that you’re submitting your article to.
Get someone else to review your article. This could be a co-worker, a proofreading service , or a friend that you feel would have useful input into the story and how it is presented. Let them know what kind of feedback you are looking for and that you would appreciate their input. You can also request feedback from your teacher or professor if you are submitting the article for class.
Check over your article once more to make sure it is free of errors before publishing it.
General tips for writing an “A” grade newspaper article:
- Avoid flowery language, long sentences and big words…write as you would speak to someone
- Include quotes from eyewitnesses and people who are part of the story
- Proofread your article several times or have a friend check it for grammar or spelling mistakes
- Double check that you have spelled names correctly in your article. If possible, use a name in a quote to ensure you spell it right. If not, call the person and ask them to spell their name for you.
- Include a relevant picture of the people involved, not just the location (a picture of the car that was stolen or even of a person with a quote about how they feel.)
- Timelines are important in news writing – include them!
Create a news story based on this scenario: The town where you live has recently found a new source of water. People have been asking where the water came from, so you decided to investigate. You discovered that after years without rain or snow, the town’s reservoirs dried up and were not able to provide enough fresh water for people to drink. After a few dry wells, residents began digging their own wells until a nearby farmer hit water.
Do you need help writing a news article assignment? Click here to ask for news story assignment writing help by professional journalists and college paper writing help instructors.
What are your thoughts on how to write a news article for school assignment?
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Thursday, February 23: The Clark Library is closed today.
APA Style (7th Edition) Citation Guide: Magazine/Newspaper Articles
- Journal Articles
- Magazine/Newspaper Articles
- Books & Ebooks
- Government & Legal Documents
- Biblical Sources
- Secondary Sources
- Films/Videos/TV Shows
- How to Cite: Other
- Additional Help
Table of Contents
Magazine/newspaper article from a website, magazine/newspaper article from a library database, magazine/newspaper article in print, magazine/newspaper article with an unknown author.
Note: All citations should be double spaced and have a hanging indent in a Reference List.
A "hanging indent" means that each subsequent line after the first line of your citation should be indented by 0.5 inches.
This Microsoft support page contains instructions about how to format a hanging indent in a paper.
How Do I Know If It's a Newspaper?
Not sure whether your article is from a newspaper? Look for these characteristics:
- Main purpose is to provide readers with a brief account of current events locally, nationally or internationally.
- Can be published daily, semiweekly or weekly.
- Articles are usually written by journalists who may or may not have subject expertise.
- Written for the general public, readers don't need any previous subject knowledge.
- Little, if any, information about other sources is provided.
Articles may also come from journals or magazines.
If an item has no author, start the citation with the article title.
If, and only if, the article is signed "Anonymous", put the word Anonymous where you would normally place the author's name.
Cite author names in the order in which they appear on the source, not in alphabetical order.
Italicize titles of journals, magazines and newspapers. Do not italicize or use quotation marks for the titles of articles.
Capitalize only the first letter of the first word of the article title. If there is a colon in the article title, also capitalize the first letter of the first word after the colon.
If an item has no date, use the short form n.d. where you would normally put the date.
If an original publication date and a last updated date are provided, use the last updated date. If the more current date is "last reviewed" instead of "last updated," use the original publication date (since the review may not have changed the content).
Most articles will not need these in the citation. Only use them for online articles from places where content may change often, like a free website or a wiki.
If an article has no page numbers provided, leave that part of the citation out in the References List.
If an article doesn't appear on continuous pages, list all the page numbers the article is on, separated by commas. For example (4, 6, 12-14)
In the Body of a Paper
Books, Journals, Reports, Webpages, etc.: When you refer to titles of a “stand-alone work,” as the APA calls them on their APA Style website, such as books, journals, reports, and webpages, you should italicize them. Capitalize words as you would for an article title in a reference, e.g., In the book Crying in H Mart: A memoir , author Michelle Zauner (2021) describes her biracial origin and its impact on her identity.
Article or Chapter: When you refer to the title of a part of a work, such as an article or a chapter, put quotation marks around the title and capitalize it as you would for a journal title in a reference, e.g., In the chapter “Where’s the Wine,” Zauner (2021) describes how she decided to become a musician.
The APA Sample Paper below has more information about formatting your paper.
- APA 7th ed. Sample Paper
Author's Last Name, First Initial. Second Initial if Given. (Year of Publication, Month Day if Given). Title of article: Subtitle if any. Name of Newspaper . URL
Note: If the article is on continuous pages put a dash (-) between the first and last page numbers. If the article appears on discontinuous page numbers, give all page numbers separated with commas between them.
Brody, J. E. (2007, December 11). Mental reserves keep brain agile. The New York Times . https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/11/health/11iht-11brod.8685746.html
Note: This entry has no page numbers, so this information is left out of the citation.
(Author's Last Name, Year)
Example: (Brody, 2007)
(Author's Last Name, Year, p. Page Number if available)
Note: This entry has no page numbers, paragraph numbers, or section headings so this information is left out of the in-text citation.
Author's Last Name, First Initial. Second Initial if Given. (Year of Publication, Month Day if Given). Title of article: Subtitle if any. Name of Newspaper, SectionPage if Given.
Note: For newspaper articles from library databases, include the newspaper title and any volume/issue/page numbers that are provided. Do not include the database information.
Kidd, K. (2011, August 7). Cart blanche: City of Portland celebrates sidewalk dining with minimal rules for food carts. The Toronto Star, A5.
Example: (Kidd, 2011)
Example: (Kidd, 2011, p. A5)
Author's Last Name, First Initial. Second Initial if Given. (Year of Publication, Month Day if Given). Title of article: Subtitle if any. Name of Newspaper , SectionPage.
Schwartz, J. (1993, September 30). Obesity affects economic, social status. The Washington Post , A1, A4.
Example: (Schwartz, 1993)
(Author's Last Name, Year, p. Page Number)
Example: (Schwartz, 1993, A1)
Title of article: Subtitle if any. (Year of Publication, Month Day if Given). Name of Newspaper , SectionPage.
Note: If an author's name is not given, do not include an author in the citation; however, if the article is signed "Anonymous," then use "Anonymous" in place of the author's name.
Get on board for train safety. (2012, June 17). The New York Times , A14.
("One two or three words from the title", Year)
Example: ("Get on board", 2012)
Note: Choose one or more words from the title, enough to clearly identify the article. Use double quotation marks around the words from a title of an article in the in-text citation.
("One two or three words from the title", Year, Page Number)
Example: ("Get on board," A14)
Note: Choose one or more words from the title, enough to clearly identify the article. Use double quotation marks around the words from title of an article in the in-text citation.
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- 06 November 2023
‘ChatGPT detector’ catches AI-generated papers with unprecedented accuracy
- McKenzie Prillaman
You can also search for this author in PubMed Google Scholar
You have full access to this article via your institution.
A new AI detection tool can accurately identify chemistry papers written by ChatGPT. Credit: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa via Alamy
A machine-learning tool can easily spot when chemistry papers are written using the chatbot ChatGPT, according to a study published on 6 November in Cell Reports Physical Science 1 . The specialized classifier, which outperformed two existing artificial intelligence (AI) detectors, could help academic publishers to identify papers created by AI text generators.
“Most of the field of text analysis wants a really general detector that will work on anything,” says co-author Heather Desaire, a chemist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. But by making a tool that focuses on a particular type of paper, “we were really going after accuracy”.
The findings suggest that efforts to develop AI detectors could be boosted by tailoring software to specific types of writing, Desaire says. “If you can build something quickly and easily, then it’s not that hard to build something for different domains.”
The elements of style
Desaire and her colleagues first described their ChatGPT detector in June, when they applied it to Perspective articles from the journal Science 2 . Using machine learning, the detector examines 20 features of writing style, including variation in sentence lengths, and the frequency of certain words and punctuation marks, to determine whether an academic scientist or ChatGPT wrote a piece of text. The findings show that “you could use a small set of features to get a high level of accuracy”, Desaire says.
How ChatGPT and other AI tools could disrupt scientific publishing
In the latest study, the detector was trained on the introductory sections of papers from ten chemistry journals published by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The team chose the introduction because this section of a paper is fairly easy for ChatGPT to write if it has access to background literature, Desaire says. The researchers trained their tool on 100 published introductions to serve as human-written text, and then asked ChatGPT-3.5 to write 200 introductions in ACS journal style. For 100 of these, the tool was provided with the papers’ titles, and for the other 100, it was given their abstracts.
When tested on introductions written by people and those generated by AI from the same journals, the tool identified ChatGPT-3.5-written sections based on titles with 100% accuracy. For the ChatGPT-generated introductions based on abstracts, the accuracy was slightly lower, at 98%. The tool worked just as well with text written by ChatGPT-4, the latest version of the chatbot. By contrast, the AI detector ZeroGPT identified AI-written introductions with an accuracy of only about 35–65%, depending on the version of ChatGPT used and whether the introduction had been generated from the title or the abstract of the paper. A text-classifier tool produced by OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, also performed poorly — it was able to spot AI-written introductions with an accuracy of around 10–55%.
The new ChatGPT catcher even performed well with introductions from journals it wasn’t trained on, and it caught AI text that was created from a variety of prompts, including one aimed to confuse AI detectors. However, the system is highly specialized for scientific journal articles. When presented with real articles from university newspapers, it failed to recognize them as being written by humans.
What the authors are doing is “something fascinating”, says Debora Weber-Wulff, a computer scientist who studies academic plagiarism at the HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences. Many existing tools try to determine authorship by searching for the predictive text patterns of AI-generated writing rather than by looking at features of writing style, she says. “I’d never thought of using stylometrics on ChatGPT.”
But Weber-Wulff points out that there are other issues driving the use of ChatGPT in academia. Many researchers are under pressure to quickly churn out papers, she notes, or they might not see the process of writing a paper as an important part of science. AI-detection tools will not address these issues, and should not be seen as “a magic software solution to a social problem”.
Desaire, H., Chua, A. E., Kim, M.-G. & Hua, D. Cell Rep. Phys. Sci. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101672 (2023).
Article Google Scholar
Desaire, H. et al. Cell Rep. Phys. Sci . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101426 (2023).
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Bill Gates didn't write article on forced vaccinations and depopulation | Fact check
The claim: Bill Gates wrote an article arguing for depopulation through forced vaccination
An Oct. 30 Instagram post ( direct link , archive link ) includes an image of a woman holding a newspaper article titled “Depopulation Through Forced Vaccination: The Zero Carbon Solution!” Bill Gates’ picture is next to the article.
“The paper contains an article by Bill Gates called ‘Depopulation Through Forced Vaccination,’” reads part of the caption. “Gates believes this would be the most ‘environmentally friendly solution.’ No one gave it much thought at the time.”
The post was liked more than 3,000 times in 10 days.
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Our rating: False
Gates did not write the article shown in the video. Screenshots of the actual article show a different byline.
Screenshots of article identify different author
The article in the video appeared in the June 2011 edition of the Sovereign Independent, a now-defunct Irish newspaper. While the article no longer appears on the paper’s website, screenshots independently archived online show the byline of Rachel Windeer on the piece.
Gates is quoted in the article, although USA TODAY previously reported that his comments from a 2010 TEDx Talk are misrepresented in it.
In that talk, Gates listed population sustainability as a key to cutting or completely eliminating carbon emissions . Better healthcare and wider use of vaccines are key to lowering birth rates, he said, because people in developing nations are less likely to have larger families when they see children will survive into adulthood.
Gates did not suggest forced vaccinations in the 27-minute talk.
Fact check : 'Air vaccine' for use on unwilling people doesn't exist, no tie to Bill Gates
Gates – and particularly his interest in promoting vaccination – is a frequent topic of misinformation. USA TODAY has debunked several claims about him this year, including a blog article claiming he was wanted in the Philippines for murder for promoting COVID-19 vaccines, a fabricated screenshot of a tweet about adding vaccines to the food supply and digitally altered audio about his interest in vaccination.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Check Your Fact also debunked the claim.
Our fact-check sources:
- The Sovereign Independent, June 2011, Front page (archived)
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Biden and Xi are set to meet next week at the APEC summit. No detail is too small to sweat
President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will look to stabilize fraught U.S.-China relations next week during their first face-to-face meeting in a year on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco. (Nov. 10)
FILE - President Joe Biden, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting, Nov. 14, 2022, in Nusa Dua, in Bali, Indonesia. As President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping prepare to meet at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, basic information has remained guarded. That could ratchet up the pressure on how each side negotiates, down to the smallest detail. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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President Joe Biden, left, is seated with Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, for a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting, Nov. 14, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia. As Biden and Xi prepare to meet at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, basic information has remained guarded. That could ratchet up the pressure on how each side negotiates, down to the smallest detail.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE - The American and Chinese flags wave at Genting Snow Park ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 2, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. As President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping prepare to meet at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, basic information has remained guarded. That could ratchet up the pressure on how each side negotiates, down to the smallest detail. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday, there will be no such thing as a small detail.
How they greet? If they eat? Where they sit? Will there be flowers? Bottled water or in a glass? “Pretty intense,” senior administration officials say of navigating delicate protocols.
Any encounter involving the president and a foreign leader means managing tricky logistics, political and cultural, and every occurrence or utterance can potentially jolt the world order. But few nations are more attuned to etiquette than the Chinese, and the often-conflicting interests between Washington and Beijing might mean the seemingly trivial becomes meaningful.
There’s probably “very detailed planning of the actual choreography of who enters a room where, if there will be pictures taken and all of that,” said Bonny Lin, senior fellow for Asian security and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Biden and Xi will meet while both attend next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco. So far, even basic information has remained closely guarded . Statements Friday by China’s government didn’t mention the day or location. The White House, citing security concerns, says only that the meeting will be held “in the Bay area.”
That could only increase the pressure as both sides potentially haggle over everything from meeting time and length to who enters the room first. Will they use a table or easy chairs? What about security presence and interpreter access?
Then there is the more obviously substantive: Will there be a joint statement after the meeting and how much of the session will be in public view?
The plan is to set aside enough time for in-depth conversations on issues that will be divided into different sessions, senior administration officials say. That recalls Biden’s nearly three-hour meeting with Xi before the start of last year’s G-20 summit in Bali.
The officials also noted that this will be Xi’s first trip to the United States in six years, and his first to San Francisco since he was a provincial Communist Party secretary.
Victor Cha, former director for Asian Affairs on the White House’s National Security Council, said organizing such meetings at APEC is easier than at a formal location. But, he said, hammering out talks on summit sidelines is still “a logistics nightmare.”
“China, normally, if they come to United States, they want everything. They want all the pomp and circumstance. They want the highest possible respect that can be paid to them,” Cha said. “That is politically not possible. And so, having APEC in San Francisco solves that problem in the sense that it’s not the official White House that’s hosting the meeting.”
Even informal settings can bring high stakes.
When President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, aiming to ease decades of animosity, he brought a new pair of shoes with rubber soles to climb the Great Wall.
President Barack Obama and Xi didn’t wear ties during their 2013 meeting at Sunnylands, a modernist mansion in Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs, California. It was news then that Obama stayed overnight there while the Chinese delegation returned to a nearby hotel.
President Donald Trump and Xi wore dark suits for dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida four years later. The meal featured what Trump called “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake.”
Bonnie Glaser, managing director of the Indo-Pacific program at the German Marshall Fund, said that, for the upcoming meeting, Xi’s team likely pushed for a venue away from the APEC site and talks lasting longer than those in Bali.
“The Chinese want a separate summit,” she said.
The Chinese attach importance to the location, which this time may be more like Sunnylands than Anchorage, Alaska, where top U.S. and Chinese officials held rather tense 2021 talks. Chinese state media might fixate on the weather as a barometer for bilateral relations. Early forecasts are calling for rain with a high in the mid-60s for San Francisco.
Even on-site flowers could be important, as certain choices can symbolize harmony in Chinese culture. Plum blossom is a well-liked flower known in China for persevering amid harshness, while lotuses convey peace in the Chinese language. Chrysanthemums, by contrast, are associated with death.
Xi may expect Biden to greet him upon arrival. Xi’s team could also want the leaders photographed together without staff to convey a personal relationship.
“Chinese officials will want to project to their domestic audience that Xi is received by Biden with dignity and respect,” said Ryan Hass, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institute. He suggested that required “imagery of both leaders interacting on a personal basis, beyond the customary handshake in front of a bank of flags in a hotel conference room.”
That could be as simple as a short walk together, Hass said. The Chinese also tend to emphasize food and might push for a meal.
During Nixon’s 1971 visit, a military honor guard greeted him at the airport, but the much-watched series of toasts from both sides came later, only after a shark fin banquet dish was served. China offered a Texas-style barbecue at a luxury Beijing hotel to fete President George H.W. Bush in 1989, but blocked his invitation of Fang Lizhi, then the country’s best-known dissident.
The APEC setting precludes a formal dinner. But lunch is possible. That’s despite Xi scheduling his trips down to the minute and often packing in so much that there’s no time to eat, according to a documentary on its diplomatic principles China released in 2017.
Both sides also always have security concerns. Obama wrote in his memoir of his 2009 China trip that his team was “instructed to leave any non-governmental electronic devices on the plane” and to operate assuming “that our communications were being monitored” and hotel rooms had hidden cameras.
Hillary Clinton’s 1995 Beijing visit as first lady turned heads for a different reason when she declared that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” So did then-first lady Laura Bush’s 2008 trip to the Olympics in Beijing after she stopped in Thailand and visited a refugee camp for people fleeing the government of China-backed Myanmar.
But protocols around U.S.-China leader interactions don’t always have to address espionage threats or human rights matters.
Obama’s daughter Sasha was 9 and studying Mandarin in school when she practiced a few phrases during a 2011 White House welcome ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao. When she and her sister Malia visited China with their mother, Michelle, on a goodwill tour three years later, the Chinese press dubbed the then-first lady “Mrs. Diplomatic.”
That trip featured a toboggan ride away from the press after a Great Wall visit, and a game of table tennis where Michelle Obama joked that her husband played the game and “thinks he’s better than he really is.” Yet what unfolded felt stiff to some. The write-up in The New York Times carried the headline: “Even With Ping-Pong, a Formal Meeting in China.”
Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.
Who should see a shooter’s journal? In Nashville, a leak heightens debate.
Hours after a mass shooting left six dead inside a suburban Nashville elementary school, investigators announced the discovery of journals in which the killer laid out the attack.
Authorities initially said the documents would be disclosed. Instead, their release became an emotional tug-of-war that has played out in the court system and in the grieving community. Seven months after the March 27 mass shooting at the Covenant School, police have not allowed access to any of the journals as the debate continues to rage.
Some parents worry the release will inspire copycat shooters and retraumatize their children, while others say the documents may provide a motive and help researchers understand what makes a mass shooter act. Open-government advocates say allowing the families what amounts to veto power could set a dangerous precedent for the public’s access to police files.
Then, without warning, images of three of the pages were plastered online this week by a right-wing personality, Steven Crowder. What was released represents three pages out of the more than two dozen journals written by the killer, according to court records.
The fallout was swift and intense, with grieving families saying they were left hurt anew and the mayor ordering an investigation. Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said he was “extremely serious” about identifying the people responsible. By Wednesday, the police department announced it had placed seven people on a “nonpunitive” administrative assignment “to protect the integrity of the active, progressing investigation.”
Brent Leatherwood, a spokesman for a group of victims’ families at the school, told The Washington Post that he at first assumed the post was fake. Then he started getting more calls and texts from other concerned parents, and it dawned on him that it was real and the killer was once again “terrorizing our families.”
“Only this time, enabled by a shock jock who moonlights as a conservative deciding that would be the day he would tear open wounds in a community that consists of some of the most conservative families in Tennessee,” Leatherwood said.
The FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and a school representative declined to comment.
Conservative commentators and lawmakers who have for months criticized authorities’ decision to withhold the writings cheered their release. Tennessee GOP Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison, one of the nearly 70 Republican lawmakers who signed a letter demanding the documents be released, told the Tennessean that the material was valuable to understanding the killer’s actions.
“We will never have all the answers we want, but it is still my belief the shooter’s writings and complete medical history will provide vital insight into her behavior leading up to this heinous, evil act,” Faison said in a statement to the newspaper.
Crowder, a right-wing firebrand who was once demonetized by YouTube for his homophobic targeting of a journalist , released the images during a Monday afternoon live stream on Rumble and later posted them on the social media site X, formerly Twitter. Crowder and others, including Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), capitalized on what they perceived to be anti-White hate.
The pages show a schedule of the day of the shooting and rail against White and affluent students. These are only a portion of the dozens of other groups hatefully mentioned in the journals, according to a person close the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The person said the shooter, who was White, wanted to be remembered alongside the shooters of Columbine High School.
It was not clear how Crowder obtained the photographs, and he did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
In his live stream, the political commentator questioned why the writings had not been made public seven months after the shooting, adding that although he understood “many of you don’t want this,” documents from other shooters have been released in the past.
“Why has it never seen the light of day?” he asked.
Without a motive, right-wing influencers shortly after the shooting seized on the vacuum of information to falsely claim that there was a rise in transgender mass shooters and that the fight for trans rights was radicalizing people. The killer is 28-year-old former Covenant student Audrey Elizabeth Hale, described by police initially as a woman but then as transgender because of the use of male pronouns on a social media account. At one point, a fake manifesto spread online, claiming that the shooter acted “in the name of trans rights,” further inflaming conspiracy theories that took hold online.
The Covenant shooting was the ninth deadliest in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a database that defines a mass shooting as a minimum of four victims shot, either killed or injured, not including the shooter. It unfolded over a span of 15 minutes and 152 bullets in a leafy suburban area 10 miles south of central Nashville.
Hale entered the school, with about 200 students from preschool to sixth grade, dressed partly in camouflage and carrying two AR-style weapons along with a handgun. The assailant then killed students Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9; and substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; longtime school head Katherine Koonce, 60; and custodian Mike Hill, 61. Police said the shooter fired at five officers who had entered the school, two of whom fired back and ended the rampage.
Shortly after the shooting, police said they had “carefully reviewed” a “manifesto” and other writings left in a vehicle in the school’s parking lot and inside the shooter’s bedroom. They said the writings showed Hale “documented plans, drawing maps of the school, over a period of months to commit mass murder,” adding that Hale “considered the actions of other mass murderers.”
Public interest or need for privacy?
The Metro Nashville Police Department initially said it planned to release the records, then denied public records requests seeking them, citing an ongoing investigation despite the sole suspect being dead.
Several groups sued for access, including the Tennessean newspaper along with a gun rights group and a state lawmaker.
In court filings, they wrote that the public is entitled to the documents under open-records laws and the First Amendment, describing the shooter’s writings as a matter of public interest. The Tennessean wrote that it hoped to “bring to light additional facts regarding this incident, societal and mental health issues, and issues regarding firearms more broadly,” saying the documents could answer questions about the shooter’s motivations and access to firearms while under mental health treatment. The Tennessee Firearms Association argued that making the records public would “very likely prevent the killing of other school children.”
Separately, dozens of Republican Tennessee lawmakers sent an open letter to Drake to request the release of the writings, saying that understanding the motives of the shooter would inform school safety legislation.
Parents of several of the students killed have fought hard against the release, filing a motion to intervene in the legal battle. In an anguished and fiery declaration filed in court, parent Erin Kinney castigated media outlets “shamefully clamoring for these writings,” accusing them of being motivated by profit rather than public interest. Kinney, whose 9-year-old son William was among those killed, wrote: “I don’t need to read a single word this shooter wrote to know that there are no answers to be found.”
Making those words public, she wrote, could inspire copycats and would provide the notoriety many mass shooters seek.
“The pathway to obtain notoriety from murdering children must be removed, starting here, with this shooter, who I will never, ever name,” Kinney wrote.
Those seeking the documents have acknowledged the parents’ pain, but argued that they do not have standing in the case because the law clearly requires the release of the records. One filing noted that the state legislature “has made the policy decision that, as a general rule, the interest of the public as a whole in information about the operation of government outweighs individual privacy concerns.”
“Appellate courts in Tennessee have found no legal authority supporting an exclusion from the Tennessee Public Records Act for an otherwise public record based upon the wishes of citizens involved,” it added.
The ripples of this decision may also set a far-reaching precedent, said Deborah Fisher, executive director of the advocacy group Tennessee Coalition for Open Government that fights for access to public records and meetings.
She said she feels for the parents, but noted that they are asking for a dramatic deviation from how the public records law works.
“They’re in deep grief,” she said. “I can’t hardly imagine, but they’re not the only ones with an interest. This was a crime. This was something we want to prevent.”
There often isn’t the choice of whether the writings of a mass shooter will be public. The white supremacist who killed 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood uploaded his manifesto to Google Drive. The man who feared a “Hispanic invasion” and killed 20 at a Walmart in El Paso posted his 2,300-word screed on the anonymous message board 8chan.
The families of Covenant victims argue that this is a rare opportunity to protect their children before any more of the document is released.
In May, a judge ruled that a group of more than 100 Covenant families could intervene in the case. In support of their push, attorneys for the families gathered statements from an emergency room doctor, a psychologist, a former district attorney, a former Texas Bureau of Information director, Covenant staff and multiple parents.
An appeals court is considering the judge’s decision, Drake said. Officials expect a ruling in coming weeks.
Deciding whether publishing the information does more good than harm is a tricky balancing act, said Adam Lankford, a criminologist at the University of Alabama who has studied how media coverage affects future shooters.
Having access to a killer’s writings, he said, helps researchers like him come up with better suggestions for how to protect people from mass shooters.
“The entire country is really built on the understanding that you can’t rely on the government for innovation, so I think that’s the potential good of releasing information,” Lankford said.
He said the risk is copycat killers and feeding into what the shooters want. “There’s the risk that you’re rewarding them by letting their ideas reach a large audience that they otherwise would never reach,” he said.
Brittany Shammas contributed to this report.
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