After studying this module, you should be able to:
- Identify the various elements of good news reporting.
- Use each of the elements in news writing.
3.0 MAIN BODY
Identification in news reporting has to do with the distinctive physical attributes of persons used or involved in the news, Ordinarily, a name is sufficient to distinguish a person from another. But names, by their very nature of common meaning within a culture, are no exclusive reserves of
any person. Thus, other qualifiers are usually needed to give concrete and vivid description of the persons involved in the news. Such other forms of identification include: age, addresses, professions/jobs, titles, positions of authority. For example:
- Edem Musa, a 17-year-old undergraduate of Kano State University. (age).
- Governor Tinuba of Lagos State has declared… (status).
- The defendant, Mr Okonkwo Ifeanyi, of Nos 3 Adebayo
Street was yesterday arraigned before… (address) However, it is uncommon to identify a juvenile in a court or police case except when the crime is serious as in murder, rape, drug pushing. Also uncommon is the identification of subjects or actors in an event by race or religion; well-known cities and capitals may not need an identification. But small unpopular towns will need to be added along the nearest big city or capital. For example…” the identified occurred at Obalune, a small town 50 miles from Ikot Ekpene municipal incident council”.
Attribution in news writing involves the disclosure of the identity of information source. Attribution functions to give credibility to the news report. It removes doubts from the readers mind about the authenticity of the report. Reports attributed to legitimate and credible sources often make such reports reliable. A newspaper may avoid mentioning source of its information, if such disclosure may endanger the source. the And if the report is sourced from documented materials, reporters are expected to disclose them too.
Abbreviated words are often the shorter versions of their full forms. They are used because spaces in the newspaper need to be saved, time in the radio and television need not be wasted. Abbreviation also reduces the cost of production or reproduction of news items.
It is important to spell out the meaning of abbreviation at their first mention e.g United Nations (UN). However, most abbreviations are dictated by the nature of a newspaper’s stylebook. The tradition for abbreviation of date is that the months of the year must be abbreviated when they come before the figures except for the months of March, April, May, June and July, e.g. Jan. 10, 2005 and March 4, 2005. It is wrong to use ‘st’ ‘nd’ or ‘th’ when writing news. The preferred form is, for example, Feb.2, 2005 or June 12, 2005.
This is based on the house style or convenience and space saving purposes. While some numbers are rounded up for easy reading, some are not spelt out in order to save space. Usually, it is expected that figures one to nine (1-9) should be spelt out while ten and above can be written in figure e.g. 10, 12, 15. Use figures for street number e.g. 73 Ikpa Road, use figures for scores, telephone numbers, votes,
percentages, prices, degree (900). Avoid beginning a sentence with a figure, if you do, the figure must be spelt out. E.g. “Twenty members” of, instead of “20 members of…”
3.5 Punctuation and Word Division
The rules of punctuation are the same as for any other type kind of composition. They may be used to break or stop sentences etc. As for word division, it is important that reporters avoid the division of words between lines. Do not divide hyphenated words except at the syllable where the regular type comes e.g. Mother-in -law. Do not begin a line with hyphen nor divide words between pages.
The news story aims at conveying to readers the salient aspects of an event, hence the reporter’s duty is to let the reader into the picture with as little effort on the reader’s part as possible. This study has afforded the journalist the opportunity to achieve good news reporting.
In this unit, you have learnt:
• There are rules that can be used to minimise the burden of comprehension on the reader.