Writing for the Web: Five (or Six) Questions12. July 2012 - 18:16 — Dejan Georgievski
Last time, we discussed the „inverted pyramid”, and we noted that the introductory, the most important part of the article, has to give answers to five questions. It is a journalistic, investigative concept (police investigative procedures are based on it, while we are at it) which is that basis of any gathering and presentation of facts.
So, when we write, report about some event, we need to answer the following questions:
- Who are the protagonists, the actors of the reported event? Who is it about?
- What happened?
- When did it happen?
- Where did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
Since all those questions start with a “W“ – who, what, when, where, and why – this principle is also called the „5W“. We could add a sixth question here, „How?“, although some people believe that a correct answer to the five questions listed above would also answer the sixth question. Anyway, most journalism textbooks will today list not five, but six questions or, in shorthand, 5W+H.
It is important to answer all those questions with factual answers, as it is important that none of them can be answered with a simple „yes“ or „no“.
“Eko Kvarner association demanded, on July 6, 2012, from environment minister Zmajlović to suspend the opinion on the environmental impact assessment study for new power-plant in Plomin, claiming that the Commission that evaluated study was under constant political pressure”.
The quote above is the first paragraph of the article we published earlier this week about the initiative launched by the Eko Kvarner association, and in just 35 words (about 270 characters), they asnwer all the five questions. Who? Eko Kvarner. What? Demands from the minister to suspend the opinion on the impact assessment study. Where? In Plomin. When? July 6, 2012. Why? Because of political pressure on the evaluation Commission. Furthermore, in the next paragraph, we answered the question „How?“ By sending an open letter.
So, in a single paragraph, we have all the information we need to be able to know what happened. We could, if necessary, shorten the paragraph further so it can fit into the Twitter post requirements (140 characters or less) and say „Eko Kvarner demands in an open letter that opinion on Plomin assessment study is dismissed, citing pressure on the evaluating commision“. It can actually fit in an SMS message.
We will continue on this matter in the next installment. By the way, allow us to apologize for the break in this series of articles, caused by the work we did on the Innovation Lab that we organized in Sarajevo (June 28-30) in cooperation with the Internews office in BiH, and then by some regular maintenance work that was done on our servers last week.
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