The first paragraph of a newspaper article should contain the essential details in concise, clear language. It is a bridge between the terse headline and the more thorough discussion that follows. The headline will be the briefest summation of the event described, but the beginning of the article should closely follow it in having the most powerfully succinct rundown of the facts.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Associated Press Style Guide (optional)
Answer the 5 Ws of news writing before you begin composing the story. The 5 Ws are the Who, What, When, Where, Why (and How) of the event you are reporting on. These should be recorded in your notes.
Determine the most important or exciting aspects of the event in question, using the 5 Ws as your guide. These elements should all be addressed at the top of the article as you begin writing it.
Spell out any acronyms and introduce the main organisations or individuals in the story. Include quotes that discuss the most important details, if available.
Mention other facts and quotes in order of decreasing importance in subsequent paragraphs.
Tips and warnings
- The "who" or "what" are likely to be the most exciting aspects of the story. A good first paragraph often answers "who", "what", "when", and "where", followed by "why" and "how" in subsequent paragraphs.
- If you think a word can be eliminated, it probably can be. Be concise.
- Use the Associated Press Style Guide as a reference on how to refer to people, places and things in your story.
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