News Article Assignment

Purpose and Goals:

Now that we have read news articles from several sources in class you will write one of your own. The goal of this assignment is for you to learn the conventions of journalistic prose and apply them to a topic of your choice. To avoid the temptation to plagiarize, you will not write about a current event. Instead, you will write your news article about an historical event, such as the battle of Gettysburg, or a fictional one, such as the execution of Sydney Carton, so long as it uses voice, tone, and style appropriate to reporting the news. You may use an event from a book, film, or television show as the basis for your news article.

Audience and Conventions:

Your news article should adhere to the generic conventions we discussed in class, including

  • Content
    • Topic should be “news worthy”: your article should cover an event that has some political, economic, or social significance. This will vary depending on whether you are writing for a local, regional, national, or international news outlet
    • Provide enough detail to keep the piece interesting, but avoid going into minutiae
  • Style
    • Write for a broad audience
    • Open with a summary of the event and its significance
    • Present the most important information first
    • Incorporate quotations from experts and/or eyewitnesses. If your article is about a fictional event, use quotations from the text. If you write about an historical event, you can fabricate quotations from eyewitnesses, but they must be plausible.
    • Paragraphs should be relatively short and language should be concise
    • Use qualified language (i.e. “experts say” or “may be the case”)
    • Use third-person voice and neutral, “objective” tone
  • Format
    • Headline should encapsulate the main point of the article
    • Byline: your name and the date should be immediately below the headline; identify the newspaper, which can be fictitious, in which your article appears
    • Text should be in 12 point font, left-justified, and single-spaced with one space between paragraphs
    • Any images should be incorporated smoothly into the text
    • 750 words
    • Prose should be free of spelling, grammatical, and mechanical errors


This assignment will comprise 5% of your total grade for the course. You will be graded on these three areas:

  • Content—30%
  • Style—50%
  • Format—20%

To receive full credit in each of these areas you must skillfully use all of the relevant conventions. Partial credit will be awarded for using some of the conventions well and others poorly. Little or no credit will be given where few or none of the conventions are observed.

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