How to Write News Stories That Have an Impact

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Send a group of news reporters to cover the same story and each one will write something different, even while using the same facts. But, if you're a reporter who wants to stand out from your competition, there are ways to write news stories that have an impact and make your coverage stand out from the crowd.

Focus on What the Audience Wants to Know Most

The mayor holds a news conference to list all of his accomplishments. He's presenting information the way he wants it told so that it benefits himself.

Look at what he said and consider what the audience wants to know. If the mayor is proud he negotiated a new sewer deal, tell that information in a way that interests people at home. Will their sewer bill be less? That's the information to highlight.

If the mayor presents information that doesn't have an impact on the people at home, drop it from your story. For instance, if he says he reorganized his staff, readers or viewers won't likely see as important, unless there's a reason it helps them.

Convince Viewers or Readers on Why They Should Care

Sometimes, viewers or readers don't have to be convinced why they should care about a news story. If you're writing a story on their taxes going up, they will pay attention.

Other times, they'll need to be told. If your city is repairing a bridge on one side of town, people on the other side may think the project doesn't affect them. As a reporter, find out how to make your story have a broader reach.

You can write a line like, "Even people who never use the bridge will benefit from it. That's because it will ease traffic all over town." Or, "The bridge will cost so much to fix that the city's plan to put a new park downtown is now on indefinite hold."

Write Shorter Stories That Are Also Complete

Writing shorter news stories can dramatically increase the impact of your writing. That's because you will start eliminating the clutter that interferes with the important content you want to present. Shorter news stories are more focused and memorable. Be careful not to ignore the information that your audience needs to know.

That includes the background information that makes your story understandable. For instance, if you're covering a murder trial, you can't simply cross out sentences about what the defendant is accused of doing. Just work on presenting those sentences succinctly.

Look for the Emotion in Your News Writing

If you're writing a news story about a nursing home that's closing, sticking solely to the facts means you'll likely miss an opportunity to reach the hearts of your viewers and readers. That's why you should always write about a news story's emotional component.

Look for the families of the nursing home residents and tell their personal stories. They will have to find a new place to put their loved ones. The workers at the home will have to find new jobs. These emotional hooks will help people at home understand and appreciate what these people are going through. Even if the audience has never heard of the nursing home, you've created a riveting emotional connection.

Sell Your Story Through an Effective Headline

Creating a news story with impact starts with a compelling beginning. That may be a great website headline, newspaper headline or TV news lead-in for the news anchor to read.

Decide if generating that great beginning is better for you to do first, before you write your news story, or last, once you get the body of your story finished. It's usually a matter of personal preference.

"School Officials Outline Goals" is a flat headline because there's no emotion or a reason for people to care. "School Officials Want Tax Hike to Pay for Teachers' Insurance" will get those people to read on because their money is at stake and they'll want to know whether it'll be put to good use.

Before you write a news story, prioritize all the facts and information you have on this 5-point checklist. You'll discover you can quickly get to the heart of any news topic, which will improve your reporting skills and help your media career.