|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (June 2010)|
A news article discusses current or recent news of either general interest (i.e. daily newspapers) or of a specific topic (i.e. political or trade news magazines, club newsletters, or technology news websites).
A news article can include accounts of eyewitnesses to the happening event. It can contain photographs, accounts, statistics, graphs, recollections, interviews, polls, debates on the topic, etc. Headlines can be used to focus the reader’s attention on a particular (or main) part of the article. The writer can also give facts and detailed information following answers to general questions like who, what, when, where, why and how.
Quoted references can also be helpful. References to people can also be made through the written accounts of interviews and debates confirming the factuality of the writer’s information and the reliability of his source. The writer can use redirection to ensure that the reader keeps reading the article and to draw her attention to other articles. For example, phrases like "Continued on page 3” redirect the reader to a page where the article is continued.
While a good conclusion is an important ingredient for newspaper articles, the immediacy of a deadline environment means that copy editing often takes the form of deleting everything past an arbitrary point in the story corresponding to the dictates of available space on a page. Therefore, newspaper reporters are trained to write in inverted pyramid style, with all the most important information in the first paragraph or two. If the less vital details are pushed towards the end of the story, then the potentially destructive impact of draconian copy editing will be minimized.
Other types of articles
- Academic paper – an article published in an academic journal. The status of academics is often dependent both on how many articles they have had published and on the number of times that their articles are cited by authors of other articles.
- Scientific paper – an article published in a scientific journal.
- Blog – some blog articles are like magazine or newspaper articles; others are written more like entries in a personal journal.
- Encyclopedia article – in an encyclopedia or other reference work, an article is a primary division of content.
- Marketing article – an often thin piece of content which is designed to draw the reader to a commercial website or product.
- Usenet article – a message written in the style of e-mail and posted to an open moderated or unmoderated Usenet newsgroup.
- Spoken article – an article produced in the form of an audio recording, also referred to as a podcast.
- Listicle – an article whose primary content is a list.
- Portrait – a portrait of a person (article).
Elements of an article
A headline is text above a newspaper article, indicating its topic. The headline catches the attention of the reader and relates well to the topic. Modern headlines are typically written in an abbreviated style omitting many elements of a complete sentence and almost always including a non-copular verb.
A byline gives the name and often the position of the writer, along with the date.
The lead (sometimes spelled lede) sentence captures the attention of the reader and sums up the focus of the story. The lead also establishes the subject, sets the tone and guides reader into the article.
In a news story, the introductory paragraph includes the most important facts and answers the questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. In a featured story, the author may choose to open in any number of ways, often using a narrative hook, possibly one of the following: an anecdote, a shocking or startling statement, a generalization, pure information, a description, a quote, a question or a comparison.
For the news story, details and elaboration are evident in the body of the news story and flow smoothly from the lead. Quotes are used to add interest and support to the story. Most news stories are structured using what is call an inverted pyramid.
A featured article will follow a format appropriate for its type. Structures for featured articles may include, but are not limited to:
- chronological, where the article may be a narrative of some sort;
- cause and effect, where the reasons and results of an event or process are examined;
- classification, where items in an article are grouped to help aid understanding;
- compare and contrast, where two or more items are examined side-by-side to show similarities and differences;
- list, a simple item-by-item run-down of pieces of information;
- question and answer, such as an interview with a celebrity or expert.
The conclusion will sum up the article, possibly including a final quote, a descriptive scene, a play on the title or lead, a summary statement, or the writer's opinion.
Characteristics of well-written articles
The article is usually on a well-defined topic or topics that are related in some way, such as a factual account of a newsworthy event. The writer of a well-written article is seen as objective and showing all sides to an issue. The sources for a news story should be identified and reliable. The technique of show, don't tell is applied.
Publications obtain articles in a few different ways:
- staff written – an article may be written by a person on the staff of the publication.
- assigned – a freelance writer may be asked to write an article on a specific topic.
- unsolicited – a publication may be open to receiving article manuscripts from freelance writers.
See also: Slush pile