~New Stories

new-storyGrasswire stories have five elements:

  1. picture
  2. title (or tag)
  3. headline
  4. story (“The Facts”)
  5. source(s)



[wpanchor id=”picture”]


Choose something illustrative, a stock photo or a Twitter image. Avoid disturbing images. Make sure photos are verified.


Upload photos to Imgur and paste the direct link (not the image link) into the image box on Grasswire.


Picture Credits

Some of the pics we use come from social media sites.

Add a line to the END of the story: (Image: Agency/Photographer/Where you got it)

(Image: AFP/Bob Example/Twitter)

(Image: AP Photo/Person Smith/Facebook)


If there is no agency just give the name of the photographer and where you got it: (Image: Bob Example/Twitter)

If the person sharing the photo uses an obvious fake name, use their handle instead: (Image: @BestExampleGuy/Twitter)


Note: Use image rather than photo or picture to account for all possibilities.

If the image is a Grasswire-created composition of two or more images (for example, a photo overlaid on a map), credit them accordingly:

(Photo: Bob Example/Instagram, Map data ©2015 Google)

Images licensed for re-use

We also use photos licensed for re-use from other sites. Most of these are licensed by Creative Commons.

A good search tool for these images is search.creativecommons.org

These images should be credited in Creative Commons format, and this is where seems to get a bit complicated, but trust me it’s not.


We use three of the licenses:

  • Attribution or CC BY
  • Attribution-ShareAlike or CC BY-SA
  • Attribution-NoDerivs or CC BY-ND

Creative Commons asks that you use the format: Title/Author/Source/License (TASL)

(Image: A Nice Pic/Jim Photographer/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA)

If any of these are not available or unknown it is fine to drop that element.


Note: The title is a requirement of all CC licenses version 3.0 or earlier and optional for 4.0. The author, source, license and extra notices is required for all CC licenses.


sample-cc-wikiAn example (right):

The author is Michele M. F.

The license element says: “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.” (CC BY-SA)

There is no obvious name for this pic.

So, the correct attribution is (Photo: Michele M. F./Wikimedia/CC BY-SA)


See the Creative Commons wiki for more on best practices.

Google Images

Images that are licensed for use which come from Google Images can be difficult to find an author or title for. In this case use whatever information you have in the standard attribution format: (Image: Bob Example/A Website)


[wpanchor id=”title”]


The title (or tag) should be brief and specific with an eye to SEO. Note that you cannot reuse titles.

Titles are limited to 30 characters.

Do not type the titles in all-caps; they will generate appropriately on the website. Use general capitalization rules.

GoodOregon refugeDisneyland Paris arrestZika emergency meeting

Not so good: man arrested at disneyDisney man arrestdisneyZika virus

Did you even read this?: GUN ARRESTdisneyEURO arrestZIKA meeting to be held

[wpanchor id=”headline”]


Headlines should be concise, specific, useful and timely. The headline should tell the story – more people will read (and engage with) the headline than will ever click on the link.


Headlines are limited to 76 characters.


Use verbs and active voice.

Good: Elephant parade tramples local man

Bad: Local man killed in elephant migration

Worse: Elephant migration death


Good: Indonesia calls off search for missing ferry passengers

Bad: Ferry victim search is called off


Avoid past exonerative tense: Mistakes were made is a famous example. For more, see McSweeney’s Interactive Guide for Ambiguous Grammar.


Attribute statements and do not convey fact where there is speculation:

Clinton emails may be classified, FBI says

Witnesses: Dozens injured in Mogadishu attack


Don’t rely on numbers to tell the story. 3 bombers kill 7 in Jakarta bombings may not be as useful as At least 7 killed in series of Jakarta blasts.

Other times, numbers are important to convey scale: Indonesia sanctions 23 companies over peat fires tells the story better than Indonesia sanctions companies over peat fires.


Superfluous articles and verbs can be omitted and replaced with a comma: Jury acquits Smith on rape, murder charges


For more on abbreviation, capitalization and punctuation see headlines.

[wpanchor id=”story”]

Story (“The Facts”)

Grasswire stories present facts, not analysis or opinion.

Good reporting follows the inverted pyramid: The most important information goes at the beginning of the story.



The Air Force Departmental Publishing Office (AFDPO)
The Air Force Departmental Publishing Office (AFDPO)
 comprehensive take on the inverted pyramid in journalism, which explains more precisely the kind of prioritizing a journalist should engage in (Christopher Schwartz/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Comprehensive take on the inverted pyramid in journalism, which explains more precisely the kind of prioritizing a journalist should engage in (Christopher Schwartz/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The first paragraph (the lede) tells the reader who, what, where, when, why and how:

  • Who is involved?
  • What happened?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen?

Be concise.

This paragraph answers the “five Ws and an H” and gives the reader a general idea of what happened while encouraging them to continue reading. Be general in the lede and expound on the details in subsequent paragraphs:


More than a dozen people people were killed in a series of suicide bombings near Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Friday, officials said.


In the first attack, a pair of bombers detonated suicide vests in a market in the town of Kuje, about 40 kilometers from the capital, killing 13 and injuring 20.


Almost simultaneously, another bomb struck Nyanya, one of Abuja’s most populated towns, killing two people and injuring 19 others, according to witness statements.


According to the National Emergency Management Agency, two corpses and one critically injured person were taken to Asokoro General Hospital. The remaining 18 victims are being treated at the Nyanga General Hospital.

Active voice

Write in active voice.

Good: The dog bit the bad man.

Bad: The bad man was bit by the dog.


Avoid past exonerative tense: Mistakes were made is a famous example. For more, see McSweeney’s Interactive Guide for Ambiguous Grammar.

Good: The U.S. military accidentally bombed a charity hospital in Afghanistan this morning, killing and injuring dozens of staff and patients, according to a Medicins Sans Frontieres statement.

Bad: Dozens of staff and patients were killed in a bombing today at a charity hospital in Afghanistan run by Medicins Sans Frontieres.


Put the most important information first:

Okay: The European Union’s criminal intelligence agency says at least 10,000 refugee children have gone missing since arriving in Europe.

Better: At least 10,000 refugee children have gone missing since arriving in Europe, according to the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency. (Puts the impact – 10,000 missing kids – first)


Okay: Iraqi officials said more mass graves containing the bodies of Yazidi women and children have been uncovered in Sinjar.

Better: Yazidis returning to Sinjar uncovered three more mass graves containing the bodies of women and children, Iraqi officials said today. (Immediately establishes context)


Be concise. Put a fact in every sentence and stick to one idea.

Good: NASA scientists announced Monday that they have found “definitive signs” of liquid water on Mars.


The findings are a breakthrough for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. Although scientists have previously identified water frozen in Mars’ polar caps, this is the first definitive evidence of liquid water on the red planet.


Confusing: NASA scientist announced Monday they have found “definitive signs” of liquid water on Mars.


The findings are a breakthrough for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, the long-term program established in 1993 to explore the possibility of life on Mars and the planet’s climate and topography. Although scientists identified water frozen in Mars’ polar ice caps with the Mars Opportunity rover expedition in 2004, today’s announcement is the first time the agency has said there is definitive evidence of water on the red planet.


Every statement should be attributed to a source (witnesses, official statements, other reporting). Verify the information. Do not rely on other copy – even wires – to correctly spell a person’s name, for example. Use special care when reporting statistics. Links to all sources should be included below the text (See Sources).


A note on casualty numbers: Do not get bogged down by the exact number of casualties while a story is developing. In breaking news these numbers change quickly; when there is conflicting or unverified information, use the lower reported number. Note conflicting information when possible: At least 12 people were killed in the attack, according to the provincial governor. A spokesperson for the interior ministry said five people were killed and more than a dozen injured.

[wpanchor id=”sources”]


Every statement or fact in the text should have a source (See Story).

Add a link to every source in the box below the text. Every story needs at least one link.


Note: Associated Press and Reuters website links do not render properly; use a tweet instead. Some sources (The New York Times is one) do not render at all and require you to manually input the information. Either use a tweet or manually input the headline, photo (if available) and lede exactly as they are in the original.