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TIP SHEET: Writing a News Series

We’ve all seen them: stories that seem to drag on and on. What starts out as a fascinating article quickly turns into a novel. Luckily, there are ways for writers to take a large amount of information, and still tell an effective story without losing the reader’s interest. The simple and easy answer is turning your news story into a news series!

What is a news series? A news series can be any number of shorter stories or articles on the same topic. Most series are predetermined in length, such as two-parts or five-parts. A second type of news series is what is considered as “ongoing.” In this case, an original story is written, but may lead to follow-up articles.

Why write a news series? First and foremost, because you want your great work to be read and enjoyed by others. This can prove a difficult task in the Age of Technology as humans are now proved to have a weaker average attention span than a goldfish.  That’s right– the human’s average attention span is 8 seconds.  When readers are browsing the Internet, they’ll read 50% of what is written when there are 111 words or less. That number is cut in half when there are 593 words or more.  Breaking down your 1,000+ word articles into a series of 500-600-word stories avoids “information overload” and increases the chances of your story getting read.

Step 1: Narrow your Story Topic

Often times, we tend to pick story topics that are wide-ranging. If you find yourself having trouble narrowing down your topic, this is probably a sign for the making of a good news series!

For example, let’s take the topic of immigration. There are limitless aspects of this issue that you could cover, and thus different angles for each part of your series. Start by asking yourself the important questions:

  • How many immigrants are in my community?
  • Where are these immigrants coming from?
  • Is immigration increasing or decreasing in my community?
  • Where are immigrants being employed?
  • What economic impact are they having?
  • Are the demographics of my local schools changing?

Each of these topic questions could be turned into its own news story.

Step 2: Research, Research, Research

The Internet is a journalist’s best friend. A quick visit to a search engine will start you on your path. It is very common for writers to have too much information to use in a single story. If you are leaving out important information, or including too much, the story may have lesser impact. The beauty of a news series is you can include a great deal of research in a series of different stories.

protip 1

It is not a bad thing to have stacks of research. It may take time to read through it, but you could discover a great statistic or quote to use. For the sake of our immigration example, a majority of those answers can be found by visiting the United States Census Bureau, or a state demographics website. If you are looking into an area that has a college or university, it is possible that a professor did their own fact-findings, and used it in an academic paper. Don’t be afraid to contact places like these and ask them for guidance, or even for a quote.

Step 3: Writing the Series

OK, you have found your topic, identified your series of story angles and done your research; now what? We have hit the stage where we turn all that hard work into the actual written series.

protip 2

This is where you would begin planning out the parts of your series. Try to keep similar topics together. For example, you would group the number of immigrants in a community with where they came from and the demographic information that shows the population numbers. For part two, you could put together a story on migrant employment and the economic impact they are having on a region. To round out the series, you could group school demographics with other changes in schools, such as the number of new staff hired, or the addition of language programs.

If you have any questions or ideas about creating your own news series or need help breaking down a current story into a news series, contact info@watchdogwire.com.

Categories: Must Read, Quick Tips
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