What is the news item?
The news item, also known as a journalistic note, is one of the most important non-literary texts, especially in the field of journalistic texts, since it is one of the most frequent formats for the presentation of information in which all the elements of writing necessary for the exposition of a specific event are applied.
Although the term news is also understood as a format or sub-genre within the didactic genre, the journalistic news, in particular, refers to this type of format, this time, oriented to the field of communications, so that it implies a structuring and features of greater formality and specialization that allow the development of a good news document.
Characteristics of journalistic news
On this occasion we are going to refer to the news as a non-literary text, so that its requirement will be to comply with a narrative form, which could also be understood as a journalistic story. In this sense, we identify the following distinctive features of this type of text:
Objective of the news item
The main function of this type of non-literary text is to provide specific information to a specific audience through the media, such as television, radio, newspapers, the Internet, etc. In this case, since it is a text, we focus on the deepening of a written news item that must meet a series of writing parameters. However, many of them serve as a basis for the presentation of the news in other formats to which they adapt.
Means of dissemination
According to the above, journalistic news presented in text, we can find them in media such as newspapers, magazines and the web, since their structure implies a construction of the information in the writing following a series of basic particularities that allow the reader to understand the information.
About the event: recent and/or transcendental
It is fundamental that for a news item to constitute a true journalistic news item, it must comply with one or two key elements. On the one hand, it must be a recent news item, so that the event must have happened very recently. Or, on the other hand, it can be a transcendental news item, that is, the news must highlight an event or information of great importance for society.
Importance of objectivity
As we have seen in non-literary texts, one of the main features consists in avoiding the participation of subjectivity at all costs. That is why objectivity becomes a requirement when writing journalistic news. It is essential that the journalist does not express an opinion or value about the fact he presents, nor should he formulate positions based on himself using the “I”, but should reduce his participation to mentioning what happens from an impersonal position.
The target audience for this type of text can be very broad, but it is definitely an audience interested in knowing concrete and real information, which is why it is essential to use informative language, i.e. to avoid the use of non-specialized language. This ensures that anyone can easily access and understand the information presented.
Variety of fields
Another fundamental aspect of this type of journalistic text has to do with the variety of fields in which it can be used. This is because we can divide the news according to the subject matter on which it focuses, whether it is political, sports, economic, artistic and cultural, entertainment, scientific, social, etc., which can be local, national or international.
Structure of the news item
In general, the news item follows a progressive expansion of the information it presents, that is, it focuses on the presentation of the most relevant information in a short time or in the shortest possible space. Accordingly, it hierarchizes the information according to the order of importance when reviewing the totality of available data.
This technique consists of entering information based on its level of importance. To this extent, the most important and relevant information should be selected and placed at the top of the section. Subsequently, data and other aspects that complement the information or expand it for the reader will be added.
The technique focuses on two objectives. The first is to offer the reader the most important information quickly, attracting his attention and allowing him to know the most relevant aspects. The second aspect has to do with the journalist, since by following this organization of the information it will be possible to reduce the number of words due to space issues, either to incorporate more news or to place advertisements, etc.
The 5W or 6W
This type of writing organizes its information according to the so-called Five W’s, which consists of a technique that gathers 5 key questions of the information to be presented. Sometimes, and according to the event that has been developed, six questions can be applied.
Each of them responds to a specific aspect that allows the reader to identify the most essential elements of the event that has occurred. Accordingly, the questions and their levels of depth are as follows:
This refers strictly to what happened. In the course of writing, the aspect that will take the focal point must be chosen. Thus, it constitutes in the first level the account of the events, in the second level the deepening of its verification and in the third level, the ethical debate about what is worthy to present, the limits that reach the privacy and those that touch with your life in public or in knowledge.
The persons, entities or groups directly involved in the event must be answered. At the first level, information about who acted, who told whom, etc. is presented. The second level mentions who is or represents who is being talked about, the reason for their presence and their status, so as to indicate what they represent for the case. At the third level, reference is made to personal data.
Corresponds to the time when the events took place, day, exact month. The first level indicates the date, day and time when the events occurred. Subsequently, following the deepening, the second level indicates the context compared to the time understood by the people and according to the fact, also the perceptions of the public at the moment in which the facts have developed.
Since the media has the power to manage the time in terms of publication and the approach of the events of the past that it considers necessary for the present, the power of the media and the source can also be questioned, answering why at that moment it makes public the journalistic news.
It indicates the exact place where the event was generated. The first level indicates the place, the second level refers to the description of the space where the facts took place. Finally, in the third level, the reader is transported to the place where the situation occurred through the senses and descriptions, in this way the journalist indicates what is normal, what is strange and other aspects of the area.
It allows to indicate the reasons that led to the event, the causes that have provoked it. In the first level of depth, the reason for the action is presented and, consequently, what has been achieved through that action. Subsequently, the second level explains all the causes mentioned and implicit in each part of the news item, the why and wherefore, and then the consequences. The third level points out what is understandable, according to groups of people and contexts, about the logic of those involved in the news.
It refers to the way in which the events took place, the journalist points out how the events occurred. Directly, it is a space to expand on the what in which, at the first level, he/she points out the form, the chronology and some other details about the event. The second level explains how the events occurred so that the reader can better understand the what in the first part. In this way, a more complete context is provided through descriptions that place the reader in the atmosphere of the events.
In the third level of depth, the journalist focuses on the narration of each of the facts, in such a way that it constitutes the space of greater expansion of the news where the text is seen as a kind of story about the event or occurrence.
Parts of the news item
In this section we continue the sketch of this type of text in which it is very important to distinguish each of its elements or parts, since they are the ones that will shape each of the sections of information that the reader will read. We must also bear in mind that according to the medium, the location, combination and, in general, the use of each one of them may vary.
Now, having clarified the above, let’s take a look at the elements that make up this type of journalistic texts:
It is an extremely short text that is placed on top of the headline of the news item. Generally, the size of this text is much smaller than the headline and its content.
As its name indicates, it is a text that provides the reader with a background of great relevance through which he/she will be able to understand both the headline and the content of the news event.
In many cases it also receives the name of “bajada” and consists of a relatively broader text of content that is previously suggested in the flyer, which also receives the name of epigraph in some cases. The subtitle also goes deeper into the headline and may anticipate some details of the news and the specific fact.
In the lead
Also known as the lead, it is the first specific paragraph of the news event. In this first part, the journalist must add the most relevant information about the event, so as to answer the first question, what, which contextualizes the reader.
Body of the news
In this section, the description of the details and, in general, of the event that is newsworthy takes place. It should begin by recording the most important information that allows answering all the fundamental questions and, as the information is provided, this importance should decrease until the details of the event are presented. This is done according to the inverted pyramid scheme.
Keys to writing a news story
We end this section with a series of aspects that must be taken into account when writing a news item and that are key to achieve the objective of this type of text in the journalistic field.
Compilation of information
It is not only a matter of answering the key questions, but also of gathering all the information that is decisive in the information of the event and that the journalist wants to include in its content. In this way, it is necessary to gather essential information that allows the writing of the news item, always alluding to specific aspects of the facts and determining the organization of the information following the technique of the inverted pyramid that we have already mentioned.
Revision and reading
After finishing the writing of the news item, it is recommended to make a first revision that allows the identification of possible spelling, coherence and cohesion errors. Subsequently, a new revision, if possible out loud, through which we can find any inconsistency or problem that we can modify immediately. This reading is key, as it will allow us to verify the correct wording of the information for the reader.
Sources and credibility
It is recommended to rely on truthful sources that provide real information; therefore, if possible, primary sources, the people involved or authorized records that provide data with real figures should be consulted. In the event that we do not have additional sources, but gather information directly through our resources, we must seek as much data as possible to provide credibility to the news presented.
To learn more about other types of text in the field of literature, particularly non-literary and journalistic texts, remember that we have a specialized section where we tell you much more, as well as you can learn more information about literary manifestations in different historical moments, countries and more.