News reporters use an Inverted Pyramid Story to relay information quickly to readers. Both newspapers and web writers use this approach. News is written in order of importance. The most essential information is placed in the lead paragraph. The purpose of writing using this method is to give the reader the most important information first. The reader will understand the story even if he stops reading after a few lines.
Many feel this method of writing was invented shortly after the telegraph. Reporters tried to condense their stories into as few words as possible to keep the cost of sending a story over telegraph wires low. Also if the connection was lost, the most important details would be received.
Today this method of writing has several benefits.
Readers can quickly decide if they wish to read the entire article.
Editors who must cut down articles due to space can cut away the bottom leaving the most essential information intact.
Readers can stop at any point and come away with the main points.
Readers can skim through the article more quickly.
The Inverted Pyramid Story Structure
The writer begins the story by listing the most important details. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
The next part of the story gives important details.
Practice using Pyramid Stories.
This download contains the beginnings of real articles from the New York Times. Students highlight ‘The 5 W’s + H’ using six different colors to determine if it is a pyramid story.
Example #1 – The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
This is the actual newspaper article that appeared in The New York Times on April 15, 1865. Determine if it is an inverted pyramid story by highlighting ‘The 5 W’s + H’ using six different colors.
This evening at about 9:30 p.m. at Ford’s Theatre, the President, while sitting in his private box with Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Harris and Major Rathburn, was shot by an assassin, who suddenly entered the box and approached behind the President.
The assassin then leaped upon the stage, brandishing a large dagger or knife, and made his escape in the rear of the theatre.
The pistol ball entered the back of the President’s head and penetrated nearly through the head. The wound is mortal…
Example #2 – The Little Horn Massacre
This is the actual newspaper article that appeared in The New York Times on 6/25/1876. Determine if it is an inverted pyramid story by highlighting ‘The 5 W’s + H’ using six different colors.
The dispatches giving an account of the slaughter of Gen. Custer’s command, published by The Times of yesterday, are confirmed and supplemented by official reports from Gen. A.H. Terry, commanding the expedition. On June 25 Gen. Custer’s command came upon the main camp of Sitting Bull, and at once attacked it, charging the thickest part of it with five companies, Major Reno, with seven companies attacking on the other side. The soldiers were repulsed and a wholesale slaughter ensued…