Launching a hyperlocal news site is one thing – writing compelling content that keeps your readers coming back is quite another. This article will give you some tips for understanding how to put together a great news story that will keep your readers informed and eager to read more.
One way to do this is to write “upside down.” Many journalists write their content in what is called an inverted pyramid. The most important, meatiest content goes at the top. The reason for this is that editors typically cut from the bottom if a story is too long. If this happens, then the most important stuff stays in the story. (This tradition was originally started back when editors physically cut the bottom of a type-written page, but the principle still applies).
The next tip may sound a bit obvious, but it is critically important: be accurate. Double and triple-check information to be sure it is accurate. If quoting someone makes sure the quotes are correct and attributed to the right individual. Fortunately with the large volume of information available on the web, fact-checking is much easier than it used to be. Be sure to get familiar with some of the main sources of information in your community and check those sites frequently.
Finally, the pet peeve of any news connoisseur is clichés. You’ve all heard them: “cut to the chase,” “shoot from the hip,” or “sink or swim.” They are those common phrases that people use because they think they are clever, but in reality they are way overused in both speech and writing. The more original and thoughtful your content, the better chance you have of gaining a positive readership and reputation at your site. This is not an easy habit to break, but with enough practice and patience it will be well worth accomplishing.
Once your articles are written and posted, there is yet another step – self-promotion. There is so much noise on the web today that it can be difficult to get heard. The key is to use many of the social networking tools available to do some self-promotion. Send out links to your content via Facebook and Twitter, and interact with visitors on your site. Respond to comments and pose questions to your followers about what kinds of events they may want to see covered or ask if they have any tips to share. Most people enjoy being used as sources and sharing a bit of expertise about something they know quite a bit about.
Finally, write well. Hemmingway level prose isn’t necessary, but touching up on some basic grammar rules would be advised. Know the difference between your and you’re or there, their, and they’re. Get a friend or colleague to review your writing to make sure it sounds good. Make liberal use of dictionary.com and other online tools to help you through the writing process.
And be sure to enjoy the process of crafting local news stories. You are undertaking a service to your community to bring it news that otherwise wouldn’t be reported.