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Newswriting Exercises

Test Your Ability to Produce Cleanly Written News Stories on Deadline


Looking for a way to hone your newswriting skills anytme, anywhere? Try these newswriting exercises. Each exercise provides a set of facts or a scenario, and it's up to you to produce a story from it. To get the maximum benefit, force yourself to do these on a tight deadline (a suggested time limit is offered for each exercise.)

Car Crash

Multiple Car Accident In Brooklyn
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It's 10:30 p.m. You're on the graveyard shift again at the Centerville Gazette and hear some chatter on the police scanner about a car crash out on Highway 32, a road that runs through a rural area of town. It sounds like a big crash so you head to the scene.


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You're on the graveyard shift at the Centerville Gazette. You phone the cops to see if anything's going on. Lt. Jane Ortlieb of the Centerville Police Department tells you there was a shooting tonight at the Fandango Bar & Grill on Wilson Street in the Grungeville section of the city.

Shooting Follow-up 1

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You're back at the Centerville Gazette. It's the day after the shooting outside the Fandango Bar & Grill on Wilson Street in the Grungeville section of the city. You phone the cops to see if they have anything new on the case. Lt. Jane Ortlieb tells you that early this morning they arrested an ex-con named Frederick Johnson, 32, in connection with the shooting.

Shooting Follow-up 2

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It's the day after police arrested Frederick Johnson in connection with the shooting death of Peter Wickham. You call Lt. Jane Ortlieb of the Centerville police department and she tells you that cops are having a perp walk today to take Johnson to the Centerville District Courthouse for his arraignment. She says to be outside the courthouse at 10 a.m. sharp.

House Fire

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It's early Tuesday morning at the Centerville Gazette. Making your usual phone checks, you get word from the fire department about a house fire early this morning. Deputy Fire Marshal Larry Johnson tells you the blaze was in a row house in the Cedar Glen section of the city.

School Board

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You’re covering a 7 p.m. meeting of the Centerville School Board. The meeting is being held in the auditorium of Centerville High School. The board begins with discussion of ongoing cleanup at McKinley Elementary School; school had experienced water damage during heavy rains and flooding two weeks ago in the city’s Parksburg section, near the Root River.

Plane Crash

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It’s 9:30 p.m. You're on the night shift at the Centerville Gazette. You hear some chatter on the police scanner and call the cops. Lt. Jack Feldman says he’s not sure yet what’s happening but he thinks a plane crashed near the local airport. Centerville Airport is a small facility used mostly by private pilots flying single-engine craft. Your editor tells you to get over there as fast as you can.


George Doyle, Getty Images
You're on the day shift at the Centerville Gazette. The city editor gives you some information on a teacher who has died and tells you to bang out an obit. Here's the information: Evelyn Jackson, a retired teacher, died yesterday at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home, where she'd lived the past five years. She was 79 and died of natural causes. Jackson had worked for 43 years as an English teacher at Centerville High School before retiring in her late 60s. She taught classes in composition and American literature and poetry.

CEO Speech

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The Centerville Chamber of Commerce is holding its monthly luncheon at the Hotel Luxe. An audience of about 100, mostly local business men and women, is in attendance. The guest speaker today is Alex Weddell, CEO of Weddell Widgets, a local, family-owned manufacturing firm and one of the city’s largest companies.

Soccer Game

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You're a sportswriter for the Centerville Gazette. You’re covering a soccer game between the Centerville Community College Eagles and the Ipswich Community College Spartans. The game is for the state collegiate conference title.

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