We’re well into April, and that means less than two weeks to submit your photos, videos and articles to Canada's Next Green Journalist.
If you're thinking, “I want to write an article but I don’t know how to write like a journalist”, quit it! Here's a few tips on how to write an article like a professional.
1. Copying Copy
Plagiarism is absolutely a disqualifier, not just from our competition, but also from having a professional reputation. Don’t do it!
That said, learning by doing is best prefaced with a little bit of study. Go to the library and read some news magazines and papers. The content might inspire ideas for your own stories, and imitating their structure and writing style can help guide your writing beyond the tips offered here.
2. Conduct Good Research
If you have an idea for a story, start researching right away. This helps you to get practical direction on your story and to avoid forming presumptions that might skew your research and writing.
As you work, mark off quotes that you might use in your story. Be sure to keep a working list of sources going that you can put at the bottom of your article. Remember to always, always cite your sources – especially for quotes.
3. Interviews Give Perspective…If You Let Them
Conducting careful research is also essential for getting good interviews.
Don’t lead the interviewed party, and try not to push your opinion into the discussion. You’re there to learn more, so let them talk. Your questions should be enough to prompt them along, but if you run out, there’s nothing wrong with asking them about their personal experience or feelings. The most useful interview quotes are often the ones that give some emotion to the facts.
4. Structure is key!
Creative solutions, unprecedented topics, and unexpected wording are great, but even the most open-minded readers like a structure to ease into.
Generally, an article begins with a title, optionally followed by a kicker which gives more insight into the title. The lead paragraph, or lede, is like the overture of the article – it should tell the reader what your story is in a sentence or two.
An ideal article format is the ‘reverse pyramid’: the big stuff is at the beginning, and the smaller details follow later. After the first paragraph, a reader should understand the majority of the situation you’re reporting.
5. Choose a Title With Intrigue
A title is a first impression, and while we’ll read your article through no matter what, it’s good practice to grab attention and trigger some hunger for more.
6. Objective: Be Objective
Your article should be the product of research, and should be as unbiased, or objective, as possible. Maintaining objectivity is crucial in journalism.
Edit it, get a friend to edit it, then edit it again. Leave it for a few days, then edit it one time more. We recommend printing it out and marking it up with a red marker – it’ll make the process more satisfying!
Once you’ve built a fact-filled, easy reading, and engaging story,