Article Writing – How to Write Like a Journalist

Article Writing – How to Write Like a Journalist

By Cathlene Smith

Article writing is an art form. Getting the “scoop” is not the only component to journalistic composition. The most definitive and precise definition of a citizen journalist is one that reports information. Through advances in social networking; anyone with access to the Internet or wireless device can report news. Numerous sites accept the contributions of amateur writers in lieu of payment to professional journalists. The pay, unless one has a large networking congregation, is minimal. The work is tedious, difficult, thrilling and enticing.

There are four main types of articles that are readily accepted by citizen journalism sites: opinion, review, interview, and fact based news. Time sensitive news articles differ greatly in writing style compared to an interview. Reviews or opinion pieces reach a different audience than hard-hitting news articles.

When writing like a journalist, know your audience. Do not write a sports article for a technical writing site. By the same token a time sensitive news story has no place in a creative writing site.

Opinion Articles:

  • Opinion articles include political analysis, creative writing blogs, and first person POV pieces.
  • The article should state the word “Opinion” clearly at the top of the piece.
  • Use informative links and sources to back up your theory. Include links to your sources in the body of the article and at the end.
  • If comments are allowed by the publisher, be ready to engage in heated, yet informative dialogue with your audience.
  • Never make up facts to support your article.

Review Articles:

  • Review articles should be written in first person POV.
  • Be passionate about your view point. You are trying to sell the product or negate it. Don’t hold back.
  • Do not use slanderous or libelous content when writing an article about a performance.
  • Include “pro’s and con’s” before making your summation.
  • Reference the product accurately.
  • Never concoct data to substantiate your claim.

Interview Articles:

Two differing approaches may be taken when tackling an interview article. One, the straight forward question and answer approach. The second, the summation of the interview.

  • Write in two person POV.
  • Always include relevant information about your subject.
  • Stick to the subject’s strengths.
  • Omit your own opinions; this article is based on the subject’s expertise, not yours.
  • If trying to engage your subject in a debate, clearly define their objective. Watch your tone. Journalistic massacre tactics and are not highly revered by the publisher, interviewee or audience.
  • Provide a positive summation and thank the subject for their time. Etiquette in journalism is a must with the interview article.

Fact Based News Articles:

  • Make sure you have all of your facts straight. Verify, then verify from another source. Accuracy is key when writing a journalist news article. Erroneous material is unethical and libelous.
  • Obtain at least two reliable sources for the news article. Reference the sources in the body of the article by hyperlink and at the end of the piece.
  • Point of View is always third person in a hard-hitting news article.
  • Never insert your opinion in a news article for a citizen journalist site. If you have an opinion, opt for the opinion news article style.
  • Copyright infringements are never tolerated.
  • Never cut and paste, rearrange a reference articles words, or misquote.
  • Make sure all quotations are written verbatim. Do not alter, even if the script is not grammatically correct. Only insert dropped words with parenthesis.
  • Always source quotations.
  • Get the article up and published in a timely matter. Yesterday’s news is only good for wrapping fish.
  • Never speculate the outcome of a breaking news story.


These tips for writing articles like a professional journalist should be followed. Credibility in your writing is as important as grammar, style, and flow.

Citizen journalism has its rewards, but you have to work for them. Your first landing page article is a journalistic high. Your bi-line is your product; promote it with accuracy and passion.

Cathlene Smith is a citizen journalist for You can view all of her articles on her profile page

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