Writing a News Article

Based on notes from the Journalism 101 class led by journalist and editor *Karen Willoughby.

I am giving you these [basic tips] to show how a news story comes together. No one expects the writer to be a journalist (unless that’s your field of study) but this will help you organize your thoughts.

Length: 500 to 550 words and a photo (send 2 or 3 to choose from) makes a full-page article. This is the preferred size for the CNBC Horizon

First paragraph, the lead: 25 words or fewer. Purpose to grab the attention of the reader. If your lede isn’t good, your reader will not keep reading even if your article otherwise includes valuable information.

2nd graf (paragraph): 35 to 50 words, shorter is better. Purpose: to provide more information and keep the reader’s attention. Usually includes whichever of the Who, What, When, Where that weren’t included in the first graf.

3rd graf: usually a two-sentence quote to humanize the story and add the sense of hearing. 50 words max. One longer and one shorter sentence for cadence. Start the graf with the quote; don’t lead into it. Use this style: “I learned a lot,” said Jimmy Jones, a member at Faith Vancouver. “Nobody ever told me before that it was so easy to share my faith.”

Nut graf: 4th graf, shows the reader what the rest of the article is going to be about. In effect, it’s the story in a nutshell. Example: The day-long event brought together some of the best-known Christian businessmen in the province with national staff, to share ideas on reaching the workplace for Christ.

5th graf etc.: tell the story in an organized fashion. This is the Why and How part of the story.

Each news article should quote at least two people, one of whom is to be an “expert” (someone who participated and knows about the event—perhaps the organizer or leader).

Send your article as an attachment to your email in a text (.txt) or Microsoft Word (.doc) document. You can also type the article in the body of the email. Be sure to keep a copy of your article till you see it come out in the Horizon. Sometimes (but rarely) emails disappear and the editor may write saying “please send again.”

News article may also be mailed to:
Lynda Blazina, Editor
100 Convention Way
Cochrane, AB  T4C 2G2

REMEMBER: Every article is edited, even the best.

*Karen Willoughby is a journalist and has served as managing editor and editor for several Baptist newspapers. She is also a national correspondent for Baptist Press.

Suggestions as to what to include in a news article about a church event

  • Who attended/helped? How many, from the community, mission team from where?
  • What was the event? VBS, Backyard Bible Club, Carnival
  • Why did you have the event? your purpose
  • When? dates or how long – ie. One evening, one week…
  • Where? at the church, at the park, lake (names of locations are helpful, i.e. baptism in Williams Lake, in Jonestown.
  • Results? five people saved, new contacts for our church, impact in the community, learned to give ourselves away
  • Highlights: One or two highlights or short quips about special happenings during the event.
  • Quotes: Provide one or two quotes from someone who participated in the event, what he/she liked, learned or other ...

SENDING PHOTOS for publication in the CNBC Horizon

Send 2 or 3 good photos of your event – preferably people involved in activities (ie. singing, playing, praying, listening to stories, acting etc.) – rather than large group posed pictures. Front or side view rather than backs of people.

If you send recognizable photos of children (faces are visible) we need to have written, or emailed (from the parent’s email) permission from the child’s parent or guardian.

In a situation like a VBS, where you have registration forms, you should include a paragraph for permission to print photos that are taken during the event.

You may want to incorporate the following into your permission forms, changing the name of the event and church. This will save you some time and effort in contacting people later:

For Parents enrolling children:


I hereby give permission for images of my child, captured during regular and special (Event Name) activities – through video and still photos, to be used solely for the purposes of (Event Name) and/or [_______] Church and the Canadian National Baptist Convention promotional material and publications, and waive any rights of compensation or ownership thereto.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: [___________] Church is committed to safeguarding the information provided on the [Event Name] registration form. Your information will not be shared with any organization beyond [________] Church, its institutions, boards and agencies.

I have read and understand/agree to the above:

Date:_________________Parent/Guardian signature:_________________________________________

For Adult Participants: Use the same but change “images of my child” to “images of myself”


The best photo format for the purposes of The Baptist Horizon is colour jpg or png. You can tell what the format of the photo is by looking at the file extension on the name (000-120.jpg)

Send photos at the highest resolution possible. Please do not reduce from original photo size. If the photos need some editing (cropping, red eye, contrast, lighter or darker) we can do that in our office.

For photo credit to be published with a picture please send name of photographer.

Photos can be emailed or mailed (but allow plenty of time for the mail). If you want your mailed photos returned be sure to include that information and a return address in a letter with the photos.

Email photos to Lynda Blazina as attachments to your email. Please don’t put the photos into a document or into the body of the email to send. If you have questions about how to do this please find a computer-savvy person to help, or contact the Horizon office.


Captions: Always include information describing the pictures – include names of people (those who’s faces we can see) if they agree to it. Tell us what, where and when the event was (VBS, Community Carnival, etc.)

Also include one or two paragraphs, 100 words or less—Who? What? Why? When? Where?—about the event. The editor may choose to use all of what you write or just a portion to enhance the caption. Just give the highlights.

Suggestions as to what to include in caption information:

  • Who is in the photo?
  • What was the event? VBS, Backyard Bible Club, Carnival
  • When/where was the event? i.e. Church name, park name, lake name …

*Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for the Horizon.