There are four basic category of article: News, Analysis, Opinion and Other. This is where you can find out what you should do to fit your work into one of these categories.
This type of article is short and simple - something has happened, and this story tells us what. The driving event should be in the headline or the first paragraph or both, and the story should cover Who, What, When,Where, Why and How.
Things to remember:
•Get the facts right - news isn’t a place for gossip.
•Cite your sources (more on that later) and make sure they’re reliable.
•Write in third person, past tense. Don’t address the reader using “you”, even to ask “What do you think?” - the comments are open and this is the internet - people don’t need to be invited to say what they think.
•Even if it’s a story about the team you support, don’t use “we,” “us,” or “I”. News stories are supposed to appear objective.
These stories provide an in depth analysis of a subject. That can come as a ranked list, stats chat, trades and recruiting discussion, tipping guides, or anything which can be best discussed with data.
The major difference between these articles and opinion is the amount of backup you provide to your claim. Stats, analysis from other reputable sources, past form, even things like tweets from players or which contain good information.
Things to remember:
•Analysis shouldn’t be blatantly one-sided. You can definitely pick the stats and sources you include but if you ignore a lot of evidence against your claim, you’ll probably be called on it, and it’ll make you look untrustworthy.
•Don’t use ‘we’ or ‘us’ (unless you are writing as a group) - you immediately come off as biased.
•Using ‘I’ is okay, especially for articles where the tone is more informal like fantasy league tipping. However, cutting out ‘I’ will make your piece look more authoritative.
•Avoid weasel words: Words like could be, possibly, one of, likely, seemingly. Analysis should make declarative statements and then back them up with information.
•Hook the reader by giving possibilities for who is the best, talking about the characteristics you’re analysing, and using your first paragraph to promise that by the end they’ll know more than they did at the start.
Opinion pieces are where you get to be contentious. While there's a lot of crossover with analytical pieces, in an opinion piece you can be backed up by your own views and arguments - provided you express them well enough. Analysis should be objective (at least using the sources you cite) whereas opinion allows for more subjectivity.
Things to remember:
•Your headline and first paragraph should contain your argument, and the rest of the article should be you backing yourself up.
•Make sure you are clear in stating this isn't fact - use the word Opinion either in your headline or to preface your first paragraph.
◦E.g: OPINION - The Super Rugby tournament has way too many teams, and adding more franchises will spell the end of watchable rugby.
•You can use personal pronouns or not, depending on the kind of argument you're putting forward. If it's based on your personal experience, then you'll need to use 'I', but if your arguments are based on other sources you can often write around it. People will know it's your opinion - your name is on the byline.
The other pieces you'll be writing will tend to be either humour/satire, or personal experience stories.
With humour pieces, it's often pretty obvious that they aren't true. For instance this piece wouldn't lead the average person to think that the NSW shed was actually bugged. If you want to be certain about it, preface your first paragraph with HUMOUR.
And if you're writing The Onion-level satire, definitely include a disclaimer. Personal experience stories are articles which run from using a real-life experience to talk about current events in sport, to writing a match report of a game you attended - providing details and colour you don't get on the telly, to stories that happened to you which are related to sport in some way (although that's something to go on your own blog first.)
Things to remember:
•Satire is not just making fun of people, or saying things which are awful and defending yourself with 'it's satire!' - it draws attention to, and often pokes fun at, contemporary issues and traditional power structures. For example, an article talking about the Women's FIFA World Cup and how men clearly don't understand sport because they are so focused on the players' appearance is satire. An article talking about how women don't understand sport because they're women is not. The first mocks traditional narrative, the second is something which some people actually believe.
•Are you actually funny? Running humour pieces by someone else before posting - particularly someone who won't tell you what you want to hear - is a good way to find out if you are as funny as you think you are.
•When writing personal experience articles, particularly ones which are just stories which happened to you, ask why a stranger would want to read this. Is it challenging in some way? Does it reveal something which isn't commonly known? Is it just a bloody good yarn? If you decide on the last reason, be very sure that it is a good yarn.
•You need a very strong hook - your first paragraph MUST draw the reader in. Often you'll only get one sentence to convince a reader not to click the back button.
•If you're telling a true experience, make sure it is the truth. While you don't need all the minute details, if you make something up out of whole cloth, you're writing fanfiction, not an article.
•If you put yourself in the story, particularly if the story is controversial, you may run across people who make comments which attack you. You don't have to read the comments, and if they become a mess of personal attacks, get in touch with the admins.