Writing for the Inkwell
NOTE: You are expected to attend the Inkwell Journalism Workshop
Over the course of the semester, you will be required to write five articles for Armstrong State University’s student newspaper, The Inkwell. The school newspaper is student run, and is the best opportunity you have to get hands-on experience about writing news. The editor-in-chief, Jeremiah Johnson, will be your first contact. Contact him by email at: email@example.com during the first week of class. You may give him a preference as to the section in which you’d like to work, but the decision is ultimately the editor’s, and will be based on need. They will then contact you with the name of your section editor.
After you find out what section you’ll be working in, it is your responsibility to contact the section editor to find out when section meetings will be held, and talk about your assignments. Together with the section editor, you will come up with story ideas and plan a strategy to get the work in on deadline. Do not wait to get a story assigned to you (although it may be). It is not enough just to write stories, you must also learn to develop story ideas. Your grade depends on getting three articles written at specific times during the semester. Brainstorm ideas with classmates, editors, and friends. Stories are all around you. Dig them out and write them.
You will be expected to follow all professional, ethical, and legal standards as set forth by this course and the bylaws of The Inkwell.
Below is a quick list of ways to structure news stories and suggestions for conducting interviews. You will learn more about this in class, at Workshops, and working for The Inkwell. Good luck, and have fun!
Structuring News and Feature Stories
- Inverted Pyramid
a. The first sentence of the story is the broadest, most general-most important. Everything in the story is based on the first sentence (lead, nutgraf and the main point of the story are all in the same sentence).
b. Tell the story backwards-whatever is most important to the readers becomes the base of the pyramid.
c. Tell facts in descending order of importance.
d. How to end? Stop writing.
- Feature Stories
a. A story that grabs and holds the reader’s attention.
b. Uses irony, contrast, drama, suspense, and dialogue. Often involves story telling.
- Hourglass structure – begin with a soft lead (anecdote, for example), follow with nut graf, then followed with a second reference to the anecdote in the lead.
- Multiple-element stories – A news story that covers several related elements.
- Most feature stories have a beginning, a middle and an ending
- Sometimes it’s good to break the story into sidebars.
- Let the story determine the structure.
a. Use good quotes.
b. ALWAYS CONSIDER DELETING THE LAST PARAGRAPH.
Conducting an Interview
1. A method of providing valuable information.
2. Know some background info before you make the interview.
3. Be polite-smile and be pleasant.
4. Make appointments as far ahead of time as possible.
5. Interview in person, if possible.
6. Dress appropriately (dress in a way that will put the source at ease).
7. Use notes—not tape recorder.
8. Feel free to ask interviewee to slow down, or repeat the answer.
9. Don’t try to write everything the source says-listen for the “important stuff.
10. Always ask if you can call back.
11. Ask source for other sources.