The concept of the Inverted Pyramid came into wide spread use amongst newspapers in the early twentieth century as editors had to be economical with delegating article space. However, the idea of organising critical information from the outset has been long established from the time of the telegraph and the necessity to be financially and practically conservative with distance communication.
Now a days, online articles and websites are particularly concerned with the inverted pyramid structure, not least because online reading is fast paced and audinces seek to digest information quicker then decide whether or not to read on. Readers can gain the majority of facts from the lead. Secondly, from a marketing perspective, writing the key words at the top of an article function as buzzwords which promote search engine optimization to improve a website’s visibility.
Whislt critics have argued the writing structure may seem artless and lack the excitement of a news story, it is useful for readers who can decide whether or not they want to persue the text after reading a factual synopsis of the article.
“The inverted pyramid organizes stories not around ideas or chronologies but around facts.” Journalism historian Mitchell Stephens in “A History of News.”
The inverted pyramid is a journalistic metaphor that takes a ‘bottom down’ approach to structuring news articles. The most newsworthy information takes precedence in the ‘lead’, summarising the who? What? Where? When? Why? How? This means the article is less concerned with a chronology of events, instead it is ordered by audience- centred interests of primary facts and the news values of a publication. It is a transferable skill for summing up a breadth of journalistic information into a cohesive summary which steers away from story telling and translates the facts.
The ‘body’ of the article contains contextual information that is helpful but not as vital. This may include narrative details, controversy and media images, audio clips, videos and quotes to support the information to engage the reader beyond the written discourse. The facts presented in this section create a picture of the background in which the event took place.
The ‘tail’ of the article is concerned with making connections between the event of the news story and wider issues that may be identified with. Additional information from research is outlined and the journalist may suggest their own opinions or bias in assessment of the facts.