Most newspaper articles break down into two categories:
- News articles
- Feature articles
You will also find opinion pieces, like editorials and book and movie reviews. But this lesson deals strictly with news and feature articles.
Here's how you can tell the difference between a news story and a feature story.
- News articles cover the basics of current events. They answer the questions: who, what, where, how, and when?
- Feature articles are longer and more in depth than regular news articles. They cover one subject from multiple angles and are written in a more creative, entertaining format. Although a news story can be creative and entertaining, too. Check out the examples below.
It is important to remember that both news and features demand the same level of research and reporting.
Read examples of news and feature articles from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. Read them all, then write your own articles modeled after them.
The Basic Story Outline
The best way to structure a newspaper article is to first write an outline. Review your research and notes. Then jot down ideas for the following six sections. Remember, this is just a foundation upon which to build your story.
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)
What is a memorable way to end your story? The end quote is a good way to sum things up. That doesn’t always work. If you are quoting more than one person with different points of view in your story, you cannot end with a quote from just one of them. Giving one of your interviewees the last word can tilt the story in their favor. In this age of the Internet, you can also end your story with a link to more information or even your own behind-the-scenes blog post.
Now It’s Your Turn
STEP 1: Read an article from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps and fill in the following blanks:
What is the…?
Remember, not ALL of these elements may be represented in the story, or even in one place.
STEP 2: Now, using your research and notes, write an outline for your own article.
Remember, your first version of a story is a first draft, not a finished article. Here a few good tips for turning in a quality story to your editor/teacher.
- Read the story at least one time for comprehension. You want to make sure your writing tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Also, check to make sure you have at least two good quotes in it if at all possible.
- Go back over your draft to check for spelling and punctuation errors.
- Now, read it out loud. This will help you catch any awkward phrases, or sentences that don’t sound right.
- Once your piece is polished, turn it in to your editor. Be sure you have a slug or headline (which tells the subject of the story), a date, and your byline.
If you are going to write an interesting, unique essay, you will need to do research. A literature essay requires the writer to do the following things before writing a word:
1. Read all Required Materials or Subject Text
You have to read all of the required materials so that you can invent a clear thesis. While you are reading, take notes. If you are using your own copy of the book or you have printed it from your computer, take notes directly on the page and underline important quotes. If I am crunched for time, I will type the important quotes into a word document as I read. Doing this will help you collect evidence to use in the body of your essay.
2. Invent a Thesis Statement
Since you have finished reading the subject text of your essay and have collected quotes that you will use in your analysis, you have a general idea of the major themes in the work. Pick one and try to invent an argument around it. For example, the barrio is a theme in Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street . I used this theme to argue that the environment of the main character directly influences her desire to change and escape in this article. If you have trouble coming up with a thesis, move on to step 3 and return to this step afterward.
3. Research and Read Supporting Material
If you know of any other books, articles or essays that support your thesis or argue against it. You should do the same with these materials that you did with the main text: underline, annotate and collect quotes from these texts.
4. Organize your Research
Now that you have collected quotes from the materials and have invented a thesis statement, you should now organize your quotes in a manner that will support your thesis and also flow nicely. You will need to delete quotes that are irrelevant. Do not get attached to your quotes. Having too much evidence that doesn't directly support your thesis can cause your essay to seem muddy and all-over-the place, making your thesis statement seem far-fetched.