The news article is the journalistic genre you will most often encounter in media. It is characterized, among other things, by being structured around the news triangle, and its way of communicating news is characterized by giving the reader an understanding of what has happened, where, how, why and by whom.
And then it is also characterized by the role of the journalist to relate relatively objectively to the facts and interviews that the journalist has collected in his research work and disseminate them objectively. The purpose is to give the reader an objective understanding of events, topics and phenomena.
The most important thing is first
By reading the headline (headline) of the news article, the reader already gets a clear idea of what the news article is about. The sub-heading then unfolds the section further, so that what is in the section is further clarified.
In the heading and sub-heading you meet by who, what, where and when. All the most important questions are answered in the heading and sub-heading. And this is the clear line of the news article: It should give the reader a quick overview of what happened, who acted or was sacrificed, where it happened and where it happened.
In the body, it is all unfolded and further clarified. So the most important thing is first, and the good news article gives the reader answers to all the important questions in the section and sub-heading, so you basically do not need to read on. But the elaboration in the body text is nevertheless important. Here ‘how’ and ‘why’ are often explained. And consequences can also be found in the body – and others’ perspectives on the matter.
You can read the box and the sub-heading as claims for which the body text is justified.
Characteristic of the classic news article is that the journalist refrains from coming up with his own opinions and merely reproduces facts and quotes, as others have said. Therefore, the journalist refrains from using colored language for value-laden words and mood descriptions. Therefore, many will perceive the news article as the most objective genre of the journalistic genres. Descriptions, moods and colorful language are left to sources in the text: the people interviewed. The journalist does not apply it.
Particularly characteristic of the rubric is its way of being written. The news article must contain the most important section in the section, and therefore everything is cut unnecessarily. The journalist likes to structure the sentence in the box so that the most important thing is at the forefront. And preferably with the use of imagery and sentence structures, where agent – the one who acts – is written out of the text. Here are some examples
“# Metoo campaign spread to yet another industry” – the most important front with the “Metoo campaign”
“Lawyers hit by # Metoo campaign” – here the lawyers are at the forefront as the most important thing, but compared to the first sentence, in number two it is not clear that it is an entire industry affected.
“Power outage in Copenhagen” – nothing is verbal here
“Hospitals shout out” – this is an imagery in the form of metonymy. It is not the hospital that shouts (it can’t), but the staff of the hospital. They are only part of the hospital, and metonymy is precisely characterized by emphasizing the part for the whole or the whole for the part.
“Bendtner ordered at the hospital” – here the sentence is structured such that whoever ordered Nicklas Bendtner to go to hospital is left out of the sentence. Therefore, it becomes a form of passive.
The role of the journalist
The classic news article is based on research conducted by the journalist. For example, she has collected facts and interviewed key people. Because the journalist is not allowed to express his position in a classic news article, the journalist writes himself completely out of the text: There is no journalistic ‘I’. But that does not mean that the journalist is not present.
The journalist constructs the news, which is why it is the journalist who ties the quotes together and incorporates the facts that are interesting and important to the journalist. It is the journalist who has chosen an angle on the event. If a journalist is to cover the significance of Denmark’s victory over Ireland, then it can be seen from a national team perspective.
You can also see it from an economic perspective (what will advancement to the World Cup mean for footballers financially, but also for other parts of Danish football) or an international perspective: how do other parts of the world perceive Denmark’s victory over Ireland?
Is Christan Eriksen getting more interesting for a club? One can also see it from a cultural perspective: What significance does the national team have for the cultural cohesion in Denmark? So in the choice of perspective, the journalist chooses the angle at which the reader should be presented.
In the construction of her news article, the journalist has the role of tying the stories together. Furthermore, she must objectively relate to her sources. Therefore, the journalists collect different data that can be used in the article and determine points based on facts and interviews.
The parts of the article that are not quotes from interview or reproduction of facts are what the journalist himself writes to tie his news article together. It can be considered from Toulmin’s model of argumentation, so what the journalist writes are allegations, and interviews and facts provide evidence for these concluding and framing statements.
The five news criteria
Danish journalists are taught five news criteria, which determine whether a news has a news value. Most often, a news article will contain two or three news criteria.
News – the event the journalist writes about must be current. What is closest to us now is most current. But news of events coming soon will also contain news.
Materiality – the event or topic must be significant to the population. It is important to hear a terror attack, but it is not so important that Arne Jensen’s turtle is dead. Something that might otherwise seem insignificant as a bill, a journalist can do significantly by pointing out the consequences the bill can have for a population group or for society.
Identification – that a reader can identify with the content of the article. Because many Danes have been to Paris, Thailand and the United States, a terror attack is a stronger news than a terror attack in Indonesia. It is closer to the reader’s cultural point of view and is about who you share community with and feel connected to. In recent years, more attempts have been made to make news that contain identification than has been done in the past. With the social media and the massive news stream we are presented with, we are most interested in reading what is about us.
For some, it may be difficult to distinguish between the identification criterion and the materiality criterion. The identification criterion attempts to frame an emotional identification with the recipient or unfold how the recipient will be affected by the event the news article tells about. The criterion of materiality is to a greater extent based on societal materiality – that the topic of the news article has a social significance.
Precisely in a socially significant way, a news article can speak into a larger discourse on various more or less current issues, such as the fact that taxes do not control their payments and that people can cheat or that carers are not adequately cared for from war.
Sensation – surprisingly, the unusual makes headlines. The case of inventor Peter Madsen and journalist Kim Wall became a news worldwide because it contains the surprising and the unusual.
Conflict – conflict between interest groups or individuals is good journalistic material. Here the reader arouses curiosity, but a topic or event can also be nuanced by using the conflict, so that several different angles are presented in a news article. A conflict will not only be an obvious conflict between the US and North Korea outside the text, but could also be a conflict between two different perspectives on wind energy within the text.