Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Newswriting 101

"Let's have our first writing activity!" Abel's upbeat voice suddenly stirred her listless students. After several weeks of lecture, the things we learned during class will have its practical application.

"Pretend that this is a press conference."  The students took out their notepads and scratch papers. It is for  jotting down notes.  "You will be the reporters, while I play the role of the press secretary."  Everyone's faces were painted with glee after they realized that they will be writing a news article for the first time. 

"Just give me the lead paragraph. Make sure the important details I mention will be present on your article."

It was in Junior College when I had my foray into hard news. Life before was full of expository and narrative shit. Word count mattered and kids used to ace one another with flowery and poetic words embedded in their essays. With hard news, we are taught to be brief and concise with our language. We ought to follow the basic pattern of every article because time is money and nobody reads news with kilometric sentences.

I remember the 4Ws and 1H. It was Abel's first lesson in class. "The challenge of a story" she said, "is how to cram the answers to the questions what, when, where, why and how in one paragraph without sounding too stuffed and heavy." She would soon introduce the different approach in Newswriting, which include a little fact-twisting to make the story more appetizing to readers.

"Headlines must be sensational" She said when we covered the topic on choosing the best news banner. "It must be screaming for attention. Remember that your newspaper will be placed next to rival papers reporting the same hot story."

"You must never give away the entire piece, but instead let your readers take a peek at the slant of your article." Examples she gave include a news article about a small fire. With no casualties and only minimal damages, the headline and slant shift towards the couple who was "about to come" when their gas stove exploded.

"Finally, there are days when news are hard to come." By this time, the idea of writing our first news article was already being shaped inside our heads. "Remember to sift newsworthy stories from ordinary ones.  A dog biting a man is an everyday occurrence, but a man biting a dog is news." Everyone chuckled at her example.

Delighted at the way she presented her ideas - including her experiences covering the police beat - Abel was hailed as one of the pillars of our department. Not only did we learn much from her lectures, we were able to hold classes at Malacanan after she was handpicked by the former president for the press undersecretary job.

Her subject lasted only for two separate semesters, and then we moved on and immersed ourselves to other more sophisticated forms of newswriting. But without Abel's legacy, which I fondly recalled while writing this article for an online newspaper:

Ghostwriting Assignment.  Part of the Project Raketship Campaign

My writing style would remain stuck to weaving narratives, poetry and expository composition only.


Désolé Boy said...

this is why i admire you and envy you at the same time (sigh) i am soooo lousy with "narratives, poetry and expository composition" [so bakit ako may blog? hmmnn] kya Broadcast Comm ang kinuha ko at hindi Journalism
with my training, you have to produce a 4-5 sentence news script out of a 2 page press release. ayun, mas nadalian at na-enjoy ko ang ganun! hehe

Soltero said... writing - my forte. brings back memories of HS days working on our school paper, and attending press conferences sa NCR.

sayang, bsba kinuha ko, ewan ko baket di ko tinuloy ang journalism. wala daw kasi dun ang pera lol :P

Alter said...

I've read somewhere here and I suddenly exclaimed - must be the bloodline. :)

MANDAYA MOORE: Ang bayot sa bukid said...

teka, di yata tinuro sa amin yang "a little fact-twisting to make the story more appealing to the readers" a.

at di ko rin tinuro yan sa mga estudyante ko.


red the mod said...

News writing, interestingly, was my first foray into prose. In fact, I even dabbled in sports writing later on. I found that it required a different discipline, and fortitude, to remain as effective, succinct, as one would be, verbose. These days, I rarely use the skills I learned back then. I'm glad to see you still do.

I'm currently working on a project, scriptwriting for a possible TV advertorial. The plot is already set, but sadly, since I rarely use dialogue in my work, I find that the method essential to achieve the intended output is extremely challenging.

Care to give suggestions?

Ms. Chuniverse said...



"Tissue please."


Mu[g]en said...

Miss Chu:

Heto t-shirt ko. Punas mo na lang dito yung dugo sa ilong mo. Lol.


I will try to salvage some old articles I wrote while I was still in the university. Let's see how things have changed.

Ask Desole Boy instead. Seems like he is more familiar with script writing.

Mu[g]en said...


Sorry po madam. School of PDInquirer po ang sinusunod namin. Wahahahaha!


Wonder what bloodline are you referring to. :)

Mu[g]en said...


Marami lang aksyon pag nasa Journalism ka (Parang katulad nung pinapadala sa Isabela at Cagayan para mag-cover kay Juan) pero wala talaga pera.

Napapatay ka pa.


Admire admire ka jan. Sus, galing mo kaya magsulat!

Bigyan mo naman kami ng sample paano ka magsulat ng script. Hehehe!

Anonymous said...


Hindi ako bilib sa iyo,




lee said...

aaaahhhh... this post brings back college memories :)

i suddenly miss my journalism 101 and writing for radio and tv classes. buhay comm arts ay kay saya =D

Louie said...

Hehe. The 4Ws and 1H. Naalala ko tuloy bigla ang campus journalism nung High School and journalism days ko sa PUP, jan yata talaga ako unang natutong magsulat talaga though mas malapit sa puso ko ang editorial writing.

Sa haba ng panahon I'm out of college mukhang nakalimutan ko na magsulat ng balita. Hehe. :)

Anonymous said...

what a reminiscent post... what I love about campus journalism back in high school is that it can give one the opportunity of traveling to another province...heheh... :)

Mu[g]en said...


It was difficult to trace back the beginnings, but it was a worthwhile journey. Would you believe I never became part of the school paper while I was in school? Next time, I will write about my first attempt in lifestyle writing. It was my break.


Campus writer ka pala dati. No wonder, you write well.

I came from PUP. Too bad, hindi ako dun nag college.

Mu[g]en said...


Wala yata akong matandaan na broadcast journalism samen. Meron siguro, pero dahil newspaper driven kami kaya hindi namin masyado naramdaman ang difference.

Thank you for dropping by.


You write well. Hindi mo lang napapansin.

hot_bicycle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hot_bicycle said...

yeah! i remember my mentor, saying, you write to express not to impress hahaa..sarap balikan ang mga presscon nung HS, you win. you lose.saya!
btw you are a great writer! gling..