Writing

How to think like a Journalist: Pyramids

You may have come across the five Ws of writing: Who, what, when, where, why (and how). A story is not complete without the five.

In a news story, the five Ws should be at the top of the story, within the lead or at least within the first few paragraphs. Don’t leave readers guessing or you will lose them.

The most important elements of the story – the five Ws – should be written in the beginning (no cliffhangers allowed!). Supporting elements should be written lastly.

In journalism, this is called writing in a pyramid form from the most important information to the least important.

This allows editors to easily edit stories for length, trimming useless information from the bottom if necessary for space on a page.

Building pyramids also allows readers to decide whether the story being read is worth further reading if the major elements are at the top of the story.

If writers form pyramids using the five Ws, they will be at their professional best.

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