The Checklist

Reporting and News Writing, Georgetown School of Continuing Studies

Creative Commons-licensed image from Flickr user @sskennel

The Story:

  • The story has a byline
  • The story has a straight news AP-style headline
  • The story has a single-sentence summary for use in a budget
  • The story has a suggested tweet
  • The story is on or close to the subject pitched by the student
  • The story is turned in before deadline
  • The story is roughly 600 words long
  • The story is written in objective Associated Press news style
  • The story is not first-person, opinion or a personal essay

The Photo:

  • The photo is horizontal
  • The photo is not a stock image or corporate or government handout
  • The photo is appropriate to the subject of the news story
  • The photo was taken by the student or is Creative Commons-licensed
  • The photo has an appropriate caption and credit

The Lede:

  • The lede is a single graf with a single sentence
  • The lede summarizes the newsiest information in the story
  • The lede is 25 to 30 words
  • The verb is within the first seven words
  • The subject and verb are not interrupted
  • Any attribution is at the end of the lede
  • If the lede is anecdotal, the nut graf is within the first four grafs

The Quotes:

  • The story has three quotes from different sources
  • One source is an onlooker: a witness, customer or “man on the street”
  • One source is a participant: a public official or business owner
  • One source is an expert: an industry analyst or outside voice
  • Full name, age, occupation and hometown is given for all sources
  • The student does not have a personal relationship with any source
  • The quotes are all in their own grafs
  • The speaker of each quote is introduced in the preceding graf
  • The verb for all quotes is “said”
  • The quotes are either colorful or use plain language
  • The quotes are concise and make a single point

About the Story:

  • Contact information is included for all sources
  • Links to any relevant documents or news stories are given in the text
  • The document title has the student’s last name and the assignment
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