Wikinews:Pillars of writing

This page is considered a guideline on Wikinews. It is widely accepted among editors and considered a standard that all users should follow. However, it is not cast in stone, should be treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions are expected. Edits should reflect community consensus and best-practice. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.

Policies and Guidelines

Neutral point of view
Content guide
Style guide

Ignore all rules


For Wikipedians


First pillar Each article is a collaboration between a writer (or writers) and an independent reviewer (or reviewers).

Articles aren't just "posted" on Wikinews. When you first create an article, there should be a template {{develop}} at the top. From then on, there will always be at least one template on the article saying where it is in our news production process.
Writers compose an article, then submit it for review; and if review finds it not-ready for publication, writers may revise and resubmit. Reviewers rigorously check the article; provide feedback to help writers both with the current article and with future articles; and judge whether the article as-yet meets all project criteria for publication. Reviewers cannot make large changes to an article without disqualifying themselves from independent review. Some articles never achieve publication, while others are published with high quality after multiple not-ready reviews. Successful writer–reviewer collaboration is founded on the shared goal of quality Wikinews publication.

Second pillar Each article is sourced.

A synthesis article must have at least two mutually independent, trust-worthy sources verifying the focal news event of the article. This helps you achieve, though does not guarantee, accuracy, newsworthiness (below), and neutrality (below).
Everything in the article must be verifiable from the sources, except really obvious things, like "Paris is in France."
We strongly recommend you read all the sources before starting to write. This helps with presentation (below) and neutrality (below).
The need for thorough sourcing also applies to original reporting (OR), though it works differently from sourcing of synthesis. OR requires thorough reporter's notes; can be very labor-intensive at its upper end; and is highly esteemed on Wikinews. OR notes publicly document where the information comes from for both verification and authentication; aim for substantially more documentation than needed, rather than for sufficiency.

Third pillar Each article is neutral.

Report the news impartially. Don't assert opinions — attribute them to the party who said them. Most analysis is opinion and as such, if included at all, must be attributed. If an article focuses on just part of a story, the choice of which part must not itself become misleading: the choice must be clear to the reader.

Fourth pillar Each article is newsworthy.

A newsworthy article focuses on a news event or phenomenon that is specific, relevant, and fresh. An earthquake is a specific event; continental drift is not (though the release of a report on continental drift might be). Relevance should be to more than a few hundred people, which doesn't preclude local news. Freshness usually means — for a synthesis article — it happened within the past day or two. Original reporting may extend freshness somewhat, depending on its nature.
The newsworthiness of an article sometimes depends heavily on how credibly the significance of the focus is presented (below).

Fifth pillar Each article is presented in the writer's own words.

Although all the information is from the sources, its presentation must be original. Choose your own ordering of the facts you choose to include, based on your understanding of the story. Avoid imitating phrase or sentence structure, or distinctive turns of phrase or word choices. At the most detailed level, you shouldn't have more than three consecutive words exactly as in an outside source (with obvious exceptions, like titles). Directly quote people who are part of the story, rather than journalists telling it; you may directly quote, say, David Cameron based on what the BBC directly quoted him as saying, but don't quote the BBC unless they become part of the news story.

Sixth pillar Each article is presented in news style.

The headline tells the most important and unique thing about the focus of the article. Then the lede briefly captures the essence of the article by succinctly answering as many as reasonably possible of the basic questions about the focus. The lede should show the focus is newsworthy. After the lede, later paragraphs expand on the focus using inverted pyramid style. The inverted pyramid arrangement of the later paragraphs, especially, has lots of room for variation.
The headline, lede, and body of the article should all have the same focus.

Seventh pillar Each article is written for a general international audience.

Our global readership might not recognize the name of the person, or city, or sports team, or the organization acronym you refer to. So you need to explain (succinctly if it's in the lede, yet more in the headline) things like what profession the person is in, what sport the team plays, what country the city is in or team or person is from. Don't assume the reader is already familiar with, say, a sensational criminal case, either; they can look up details later (hopefully, on Wikinews :-), but tell them enough that they won't be confused now.