Basic Writing Structure

Using news writing as a framework, this lesson gives practice focusing, arranging and providing supporting details for a basic five paragraph essay common for standard American English.

Intermediate and advanced level.

Downlaod pdf:  NewsLecture

Writing the News

Teacher’s Lecture Notes

I) Why study this?

A) Gives practice focusing on, and arranging details – the common

     skills of all writing. It is an oversimplified version of the basics. It is

     like using skills as a mason to build various brick structures.

B) Helps you develop the objectivity needed for good business and

    academic writing.

C) Gives you flexibility: a variety of writing skills and ways of

     viewing English writing

D) Can aid in your reading comprehension for English news articles.

E) You may one day have to write a press release or newsletter for

     your company.

II) Various kinds of news writing.

          A) Features, Editorials, Reviews

                   1) Give a brief definition of each, focusing on the fact that this lesson

                   will discuss the simplest

III) The hard news story

          A) Main features of a hard news story

              1) COMPLETE OBJECTIVITY with no opinion. The writer should

                       be practically “invisible.”

a) Neutral descriptions, i.e. not “most terrible flood in a century, but “most destructive flood in a century.”

b) Nothing that is not needed for understanding of the story.

2) Use of sources/quotes –to verify information and retain objectivity of reporter. The quotes themselves may not be objective – so how do you get objectivity? By having a variety of sources.

              3) Acronyms spelled out on first reference, acronym given

                  parenthetically. Subsequent references use acronym.

The United Nations (U.N.) announced new policies Thursday. According to U.N. officials . . . .

                   This is used in most academic writing as well.

        B) Inverted Pyramid Style – this is the central feature of hard news

     writing

1) Begins with a lead.

     a) News lead – answers who, what, when, where, why, how

             depending on the importance of each to a story.

     b) A good lead will be able to answer four of those questions.

         (Choose an event that would be common knowledge among your students)

Fifty-eight students took part in a singing competition at ShengDa College Monday.

  who, what, where, when

                   2) Paragraph two commonly provides a sequence of events or the

                        most important detail(s).

                    3) Moves in a pattern of specific information to general information.

                         a) It continues, giving lesser details until it simply runs out.

                         b) It is one of the few kinds of writing with no conclusion.

                   For example:

                             Finish story to above lead:

                     Sub-lead: Prizes were awarded to five contestants.

                                    Should answer three who, what, where, why, when,

                                    or how questions.

Paragraph 2: The winner and four finalists (give names)

Probably a quote from one

Paragraph 3: The styles of songs sung by contestants

Paragraph 4: Background on the contest – how long it has been

held, changes over the years

Inverted Pyramid

Writing Prompt

Outline a news story about an event that happened recently.

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Downlaod comprhension activity:  NewsWriting-ParticipationActivity

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