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News writing structure


A multi-part lesson teaches a basic, effective structure for news writing, a modified inverted pyramid form of Lead-Quote-Transition-Quote (LQTQ).  After learning about news writing structure and format from a presentation, handouts and examples, students will write a basic news story based on a mock press conference conducted in class.

A more complete press conference lesson is available in the News Gathering module if you would rather do a real news conference instead of this pretend one.


  • Students will identify and interpret a basic news format based on the inverted pyramid.
  • Students will create a news story in the basic format based on facts they are presented.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1  Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1d Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.


At least four 50-minute class periods


Slideshow: News writing structure

Handout: LQTQ and Example story (copied as one two-sided handout)

Handout: Mock news conference assignment

News writing rubric

Handout: LQTQ blank


Handout: News writing prompts

Handout: News writing ranking sheet

Lesson step-by-step


1. Tap prior knowledge —  2 minutes

Using the “News writing structure” slideshow, quickly review what makes news (interesting, informative, factual) and what students already know about providing the 5W’s and writing basic news summary leads. Students may also begin this lesson with a warm-up from the Lead writing exercises slideshow presentation.

2. Lesson presentation — 30 minutes

Remind students they are already familiar with the inverted pyramid. Use the “News writing structure” slideshow to connect, explaining that today they will learn an easy way to write using that basic format. At Slide 11, distribute the LQTQ handout and sample story. The example story is drawn from the examples used in the presentation. Continue through the presentation slides, using the handout for closer reference. You may require or encourage students to take notes.

3. Closing

End Day One with Slide 19, the end of the discussion about direct quotes. Review rules about quoting people directly. Consider offering prizes or bonus points for students who can answer the questions.


1. Tap prior knowledge — 2 minutes

Begin the “News writing structure” slideshow presentation on Slide 20 (transitions) or where you ended on the previous day. Ask students to take out their LQTQ handout to review. Students may also begin this lesson with a warm-up from the Lead Writing  Exercises presentation provided in Unit 2.

2. Presentation — 30 minutes

Continue through the slides, using the handout for closer reference. You may require or encourage students to take notes.

3. Closing

After discussing transitions and endings, end with Slide 32, asking questions as review. Consider offering prizes or bonus points for students who can answer the questions.

3A.  Activity alternative for advanced students — 10 minutes

If you are using this presentation as a review for experienced students, move on to Slide 38 to complete the review, then have students work on their own stories.

These days are somewhat tedious, based on teacher-presented presentations.  Teachers may collect notes or journals or use class participation points to assess students’ attentiveness or a simple exit card with one key question as a way to check for understanding.

FLIPPED CLASSROOM OPTION:  If desired, an option for Day One and Two would be to offer a “flipped classroom” alternative and assign the viewing of the presentations as homework. This would allow the teacher to do a quick review and move on to the activity in Day Three more quickly, providing more class time for writing and coaching.


1. Review  — 2 minutes

Begin the “News writing structure” presentation on Slide 33. Ask students to take out their LQTQ Handouts for reference.

2. Presentation — 10 minutes

Explain to students that today they will gather information to write their first sample news story using the LQTQ formula. Use Slides 33-36 to explain what you will be looking for and pitfalls for them to avoid. (These are also great review slides for advanced students.)

3. Mock news conference — 20 minutes

Before class, assign two student editors and yourself or three student editors to play the roles in the “Mock news conference assignment” handout. Pass out the first page of the handout. Do not distribute the second page, as it is information only for the role-players.   Have students interview the three students, either by rotating in groups from one to the other, or as a whole class. (Whole class works best for a beginning group with only a few strong students. If you have a class with several strong students, disperse the stronger students to lead three separate groups and have them move from one of the student role-players to the next.)

4. Closing — Homework assignment

Students must use their notes from the mock news conference to write a complete story in LQTQ format. Pass out the LQTQ blank and ask student to fill it out with their story plan for homework.


1. Warm-up — 5 minutes

Students may begin this day with a warm-up from the Lead writing exercises presentation.

2.  Activity/ Work Time — 40 minutes

Allow students time to write or rewrite their news reports from the mock news conference from the previous day. Remind them to use the LQTQ handout and write the story as close to the formula as they can, starting with a strong lead.

Distribute and go over the “News writing rubric,” explaining that this is how their stories will be graded, pointing out the similarities to what they have learned with using the LQTQ handout and previous days’ presentations.

3. Closing — 5 minutes

Collect the news stories, or if you prefer, assign as homework.

Culminating assessment

Use the “News writing rubric” to evaluate the stories from the mock news conference.

Supplemental practice


If students need additional writing practice, or you have advanced students, use the news writing prompts provided with this lesson.

1. Build background/ tap prior knowledge

Ask students to explain how to use the LQTQ formula. Use Slides 33-36 of “News writing structure” slideshow to remind students what they should be aware of while writing.  Ask them to take out their LQTQ handouts and the “News writing rubric” to use while doing this writing practice.

2.  Activity/ work time

Allow students time to write news reports from one of the news writing prompts. (Two complete prompts are provided. A third prompt can be used if you arrange a press conference with the principal, activities director or other well-known newsmaker.)

2A. Alternate activity

Slide 38 of the “News writing structure” presentation provides a sample to use to help students understand what can go wrong in news writing. Use this slide with more advanced or honors students to get them to spot problems based on what they know. This also can be a review for newspaper staffs or students preparing for competitions.

3. Closing

Collect the news stories, or if you prefer,  assign as homework.

Use the “News writing rubric” or the “News writing ranking sheet” to grade or “judge” the news stories written from prompts.