This guide, written in collaboration with user needs evangelist Dmitry Shishkin, is part of a series on writing news stories based on the news needs approach. These six different editorial treatments of a news event, focusing on other details of the story besides the cold, hard facts, can offer more value to the reader. This has been proven on many occasions in various settings. The ultimate goal of the user needs approach is to connect to the audience in a stronger, more meaningful way - creating more engagement and loyalty in the process and increasing the relevance of your brand.

New to the user needs?

In this part, we'll discuss the user need called 'Update me'.

The user need 'Update me'

This is your everyday, straightforward news article, the traditional format that newsrooms, journalists and editors know so well. These stories are all about the facts: for a particular newsworthy event, they answer the questions "What happened?" and "What are the details?".

'Update me' stories are the classic “‘who, when, where, what” types of articles.

it's the basic information that your reader needs to know

Why should you write 'Update me' pieces?

Your audience expects you to cover all the important goings-on in the world; they want to stay updated on current events. It's the basic information that readers need to know.

Writing an 'Update me' story

Whenever something newsworthy happens, coverage usually starts here: with the facts. You'll have to introduce the story, event or topic to your audience, making it clear why this is news and what the basics are. Be sure to state the facts, answering the who, what, why, where and when questions.

ready, set, go

Useful formats for an 'Update me' piece

Since this is the most common type of news article, it comes in many shapes and sizes. The most typical formats are:

  • News story
  • Summary
  • Writeup
  • Live blog
  • News video
  • Pop-up notifications

A good 'Update me' headline

The headline should immediately make clear what happened. It states the event and maybe the people involved.

Great examples of 'Update me' pieces

Dmitry's Pro tip

"This user need does what it says on the tin - it updates you with the latest. So breaking news, stories of massive importance or significance to your audience, and reports from the field tend to be ‘Update me’ pieces.

However, even when something has just happened, pause for a moment and ask yourself - can this story be better covered by another user need? Does my audience simply need to be updated or should I already be commissioning a follow up that will bring more value to it?"