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Elements of a basic news story

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Before reading the text, answer these questions:

1. What is a usual structure of a news story, according to your practice?

2. What part of an article gives the most important information?

3. How do you support your ideas when you write an article (so that the reader could believe that what you say is true)?

Match journalistic professions with what these people do:

Editor / Copy editor Writes the article
Artist Shoots the picture
Photographer Writes the headline
Reporter / Writer Designs the graphics


Guess the meaning of the following words and expressions:

Quick overview

Key points

Focus (n)


Common knowledge

Graphic device


Work with a dictionary. Give Russian equivalents to these words and expressions from the text:

Story’s content (the content of a story) To entice smb to do smth Guideline To substantiate information To tell in a nutshell Compelling   To clutter Accusatory Biased To reveal Highlights box  


Read the text below using a dictionary if necessary:

Although a basic news story can contain a lot of information, it should have one main idea. You should be able to identify the main idea in one sentence. All the other information should then support that central concept.

Like all stories, the basic news story has a headline and three general parts: a beginning called “the lead”, a middle called “body” and an ending. Other elements are backup for the lead, nut graph, impact, attribution, background and elaboration.


The headline is a line on top of the story that tells the reader what the story is about. It usually is written by a copy editor or an editor, except at very small newspapers where the editor may also be the reporter/ writer. For a basic news story the copy editor bases the headline on the main points of the story, which the reporter is expected to write in the first few paragraphs. With the increased emphasis on graphics more newspapers today are using secondary headlines – called “deck leads”, “summary lines” or “summary blurbs” – under the main headline. The two headlines together give the reader a quick overview of the story’s content.


The beginning of the story, the hook that tells the readers what the story is about, is “the lead”. A good lead entices the reader to continue reading. In a hard-news story the lead is usually written in one sentence – the first sentence of the story – and gives the most important information about the event. But even a basic story can have a creative lead called a “soft lead”.

The most common type of lead on a hard-news story is called a “summary lead” because it summarizes the main points about what happened. It answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how. The rest of the story elaborates on what, why and how.

Hard-news leads don’t have to answer all these questions in the first sentence if doing so would make the lead too long and difficult to read. Shorter leads of fewer than 35 words are preferable, but the number is only a guideline. The writer has to decide which elements are most important to stress in the first sentence. This summary lead stresses who, what, where and when; the rest of the story gives more details.

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