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Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 15:21 UK

How to report online

Reporter Polly Billington explains how to write an online news report
Reporter Polly Billington explains how to write an online news report
Publishing the news online gives you a better chance of being the first with the story.

This is because it can be quicker to write and put it on the internet than it is to film or record it.

But producing an online report follows the same process as any piece of news.

After finding your story you gather together the information, write your report, and assemble it on a web page.

In discussion with the rest of your team, you decide on the order of all the reports before making them live for an audience to read.

BBC reporter Polly Billington does this every working day. Here she explains how to gather, write and assemble the news to create a simple online report about a proposed football ban.


If you've done your research well, you'll know that Mayfield local council is set to vote on a proposal to ban ball games in a local park.

Some people welcome the idea of a quiet area, while others say children will lose their football field.

Now you can decide who you are going to interview.


One of the first people you should interview is an expert - someone who has all the facts.

Plan your interview by writing down the questions before you interview them.

BBC reporter Polly Billington
Remember your five Ws when talking to your interviewees
The key questions to ask begin with W: What happened? Who was involved? Where, when and why did it happen? You can also ask: How did it happen?

You can do an interview over the phone but you often get the best information by speaking to people face to face.

Once you've gathered your facts from an expert, you need to gather opinions from people on both sides of the argument. The obvious people to speak to are the councillor who proposed the ban and a park-user who is against the ban.

Now you're ready to assemble it all in a news story. The simplest report is made up of five sentences:

The news in five sentences

The first sentence tells you the key facts of the story - what happened, who was involved, where and when it took place.

    Football could be banned from Peoples Park, Mayfield if councillors, gathering at the town hall in two days time, vote in favour of the proposal.
The second sentence gives you one opinion. Use speech marks to quote the people you interviewed.

The third sentence gives the other side of the argument. Again, use a quotation.

The fourth sentence gives the audience some more facts. It could be the expert explaining why the ban is being proposed.

The fifth sentence is a conclusion.

    If the ban is given the go ahead this week, teenagers will be putting pressure on the council to find somewhere else for them to play football.
Read your report aloud to make sure it sounds right.

If you want to make your report longer, you could include more quotes from the people you interview.


You might think that reporters write the headline first, but often it makes more sense to write it at the end. That way you can be sure it tells the whole story.

BBC reporter Polly Billington
Don't forget to take pictures and think of captions to go with them
Now you can add a photograph or two. Like your headline, the pictures should tell the whole story.

Don't forget to add a caption explaining who the people are in the photo.

Why not add some links to other relevant websites?

Once you've checked your report with your editor, you can publish it on your school website. There you have it, your finished online report!

Remember to plan your interviews, speak to an expert and people on both sides of the argument, ask them the five W questions, write your report in five sentences, add a picture or two, and that's it.

Why don't you have a go yourself?