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Newspaper reporters are typically assigned a specialty, called a beat, within one of four newsroom departments:
- metro, usually covering hard news, such as crime and government;
- features, usually covering soft news, such as arts, entertainment and culture, in the broad sense of the word;
- sports; and
Reporters working on a story will look to multiple sources to research or verify information. They may interview people, attend meetings or other events, consult public records and other publications.
The basic form for news articles places the most important information first, followed by details in descending order of importance. This called the inverted pyramid.
This story structure is used essentially to allow readers to learn the most important information quickly. In the days of the telegraph, no intrinsic material was lost if the transmission was cut off. And the structure enables the article to be more easily trimmed to fit the space on the page.
A designer will use a computer to determine its placement on the page, sometimes with along with photographs and infographics. Designers, photojournalists and graphic artists are types of visual journalists.
The most influential U.S. newspapers are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Others of major size are USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. The Christian Science Monitor also has national circulation.
- Web sites
In 1999, the Columbia Journalism Review surveyed 100 U.S. newspaper editors about the best papers in the country. CJR also had an independent committee choose five papers worth watching. See Newspaper quality rankings.