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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > April 2016 > The News Pyramid

The News Pyramid

Starting a new series on non-fiction writing, we learn the basic construction of a news or informationled article


You may never need to write a news article. But knowing how to do it will help you with any kind of article writing, because it is a fundamental journalistic skill that will provide you with the bones to help structure any nonfiction pieces that you write.

A news story is how newspapers and magazines break a story, in print or online. It may be about events of national or local importance; it may be about a new development in a specialist area of interest; it may be (see the Writers’ News pages) a way of informing interested readers about something new: a competition, a publishing opportunity. But whatever kind of news it’s imparting, it will conform to a basic format.

The basic model for writing a news story is the inverted pyramid. What this means in practice is that the most important news goes at the top, in the lead paragraph, usually the ‘what’, followed by the who, where, why, when and how in the second and third. As you read down, the information becomes less important, and the least important information goes at the bottom. The practice developed largely as an aid to deadline-fuelled newspaper production: the sub-in-a-hurry with only limited space could cut from the bottom knowing that the story would still make sense without much rewriting.

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