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Thursday, March 22, 2007

News writing exercise for newbies Part 1

Here's a very familiar nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill, in its entirety as part of the Mother Goose collection:

Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down, and broke his crown*,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Then up Jack got and off did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob*
With vinegar and brown paper.

* crown/nob = head

As you can see, the whole nursery rhyme has a story to tell. News writing is also a form of story telling , however it tells us the facts or truth in what happened to real people.

Let us assume Jack and Jill are real children who met an accident while fetching water. How will you write about what happened to them in the form of a news?

First, you gather the facts by answering the following questions from the above nursery rhyme: Who, What, Where, When, Why?, and How?

Who were the children? What are their names? What are their ages? What happened to them? Where did it happen? What were they doing when it happened? How/Why did it happen? What did Jack do after it happened? After what happened, who helped Jack and what did she do to Jack?

As you will soon find out, some answers (facts) cannot be found in the nursery rhyme. However for purposes of this exercise, you will have to leave blank the answers not found. In actual practice though, you will need to find out the answers (facts) not gathered by way of interviews or research.

In Part 2 of this exercise, we will look at how the news looks like, its parts and how to place the answers (facts) in them.

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