A well-written introduction on a news story or press release is a thing of beauty.
It’s also much harder to achieve than most people think, and involves serious practice and training.
The final one of the five Ws is WHO.
This is important for a couple of reasons.
First, a reader will want to know from whom the WHAT and the WHY are coming from, as it will determine how seriously (or not) to take the message.
A WHAT and a WHY from say, a government department or police force, will be taken more seriously than it would a random on the street.
It is core information that must be included, even if you don’t think it improves the thrust of the story.
And if you’re writing a press release, it will be coming from the WHO, so you want to ensure credit when that release becomes a news story.
Here’s a good WHO example from today’s Daily Mail.
“Dozens of train drivers are sitting around ‘spare’ in staff rooms every day because ScotRail cut services too far and too fast, a union boss has claimed.”
We can see the WHAT (train drivers sitting around), the WHY (service cuts), the WHERE (ScotRail implies Scotland) and the WHEN (every day).
But the WHO (union bosses) gives the story the authority it needs to be newsworthy.
Union bosses would know. Whether you agree with their aims or not, they are an authority and have unrivalled knowledge of the frontline.
Now, if you were to remove the WHO the reader would be wondering where the proof for this claim was.
And if it turned out the WHO was less of an authority – perhaps a politically-motivated MSP or even just a passenger no-one had heard of – it wouldn’t have passed the test and the newsdesk would reject it for publication.