News writing for professional news outlets is unlike conventional article writing in which you can latch on to a topic and write to your hearts desire.
When writing news, you are generally, but not always, restricted because you are writing about something that is largely beyond your control. You may write about a crime, a sporting event, what someone says or other events in which you are but an observer.
You could argue that interviewing someone allows you the control the news depending on the craftiness of your questioning. This is true. However, your interviewee could be equally crafty and deftly skip around your hoped-for answers.
Whatever the case, news writing depends on external factors and journalists more often than not have to find the news. Regular article writing, such as “how to” pieces, allows you to insert your own thoughts, give opinions and make you, the writer, a central theme.
This is not possible with writing news, although, it is entirely feasible to adapt news writing style for all kinds of articles to make them punchier.
For news outlets, finding news is the number one priority from the start of the day to deadline time. This function normally lies with reporters, who are given a helping hand from news editors.
In normal news outlet scenarios, news is generated four ways – events, press releases, interviews and initiative.
Events – this covers a massive spectrum but suffice to say that anything that has happened, whether pre-organized or haphazard, could be described as an event. A crime, traffic accident, court case, sports, speech, press conferences … all these are events that can be reported and published depending on its newsworthiness.
Press releases – news editors receive a constant stream of press releases every day, of which only a fraction are read all the way through. Press releases, or news releases, contain information of an event or a newsworthy issue, written in standard news style, with the intention of being published. Any company or individual is free to send in a press release to a news organization hoping for publicity. Naturally, a person such as Bill Gates has more chance of being published than Joe Bloggs.