Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Fall Semester, 2010
MIT 6.805/6.806/STS085: Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier
Tips on writing a good news article
- When writing for a general audience, emphasize the big
points. Why does the decision matter to the reader? Whom does it
affect, and how? What was at stake, and what does the decision mean
for the future? Try to put the story in human terms.
- You don't have a lot of space, so pick the three most important
points, rank them in order of importance, and then write about them in
- The quality of writing is important. Write, revise, revise, and revise.
Avoid redundancy. Even if the subject is boring, your article should still
be interesting and well-written.
- Avoid jargon at all costs! Explain things in simple, clear language.
Don't use specialized legal or technical words, or if you must, define them
for the reader. Avoid acronyms unless all readers will know them.
- Test your article out on your roommate or friends. If they don't
understand what you're talking about, the general reader won't either.
Rewrite anything that's not 100% clear.
- The best reporters steal. Read some other good writing about court
decisions from The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Wall Street
Journal, The Washington Post, …, and copy their style.