There are quite a few formalities and conventions to abide by when writing a newspaper article, making this the text type that students tend to steer clear of – even more so when you consider the formal language and tone. Nonetheless, writing a newspaper article is definitely feasible as long as you’re aware of its conventions and take some time to familiarise yourself with the writing style of actual Chinese newspapers.
中国的节日当中，有的跟你国家的一些节日相似，有的相当不一样，中文老师 要你们写一篇报道比较两国之间节日的相似处，或者不同的地方。(Among all the Chinese festivals, there are some that are similar to the festivals in your country, and some that are different. Your Chinese teacher asks you to write a report to compare the similarities between the festivals, or the differences.)
Like all newspaper articles, you’ll need a newspaper for the article to be affiliated with (in this case: 香港日报), a headline, a date and the writer of the article. Make sure your headline outlines the main focus of the exam prompt to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.
One of the key things that distinguish a newspaper article from other text types is it’s objective and factual tone. The first paragraph often provides all the important details – specifically who, what, when, where and why. For a question like this, you might want to include details such as the Geographic location of Malaysia (where), outline the festivals in Malaysia that are similar or different to those in China (what), when these festivals take place (when), and the significance or main reasons for these festivals (why). You’ll note that sometimes you may not be able to provide information for all 5Ws, which is perfectly fine. As long as you provide all the bare, necessary details pertaining to the article within the first paragraph, you’ve already fulfilled one of the main conventions of a newspaper article.
Afterwards, the rest of the article should provide information to supplement the first paragraph. Again, try and prioritise your main points, focusing on the more important information in the earlier paragraphs. For example, directly after the first paragraph, you might want to explain how these festivals are celebrated in Malaysia, what its unique customs and traditions are, as well as outlining similarities and differences between Chinese and Malaysian customs to ensure that throughout your piece, you show the examiner that you are repeatedly referring to and responding to the exam prompt.
It’s important to remember not to include too much emotional language or your own personal opinion – the purpose of a newspaper article is to report and inform. Since newspaper articles are objective, you may want to provide quotes from interviews and newspaper articles (feel free to be creative with the information you include). For example, in the context of this exam question, you might want to include a quote from an interview you conducted with a local Malaysian, expressing their thoughts on Malaysian festivals – do they find them enjoyable? What’s their favourite part? Is there anything they dislike, such as crowded streets (which parallels the immense traffic evident in China preceding Chinese New Year as people travel home to be with their families)? You might want to even provide statistics from a local report about the percentage of people who celebrate Malaysian festivals globally, or how many local Malaysians are aware of the traditional stories that are conducive to individuals celebrating these annual festivities. There are plenty of interviews and reports you can manufacture – just make sure they’re relevant to your piece!
It definitely features like these which are critical to shaping a newspaper article. Having quotes, reports, and a solid introduction will certainly set you on the path to writing a well-structured piece that adheres to the conventions of an article. However, like all text types, there’s nothing that guarantees success like practice – so make sure you practise to familiarise yourself with the conventions until you find that the prospect of writing an article in an exam no longer daunts you as it once might have done.