W questions are questions beginning with the letter W and are the basis of the essential work in many journalistic text forms and are the starting point of a research. By answering the usual W questions, an event can be completely reconstructed.
If, for example, we write a report (→ Characteristics of the Report), this ultimately provides information about the event by answering the individual W questions. In practice, however, not all question constructions are concerned with W, but only the six decisive ones.
However, even in the case of a police report or accident report, W questions are asked in order to be able to accurately record the offense (→ write protocol). Especially in insurance matters, this technique is an essential basis for calculating and understanding the process.
6 W questions as a journalistic basis
In principle, we can, of course, start the so-called W-questions with every question word beginning with a W. However, in the journalistic work 6 W questions have been developed, which serve as the basis for the later text. In addition, the following W questions are supplemented by a 7. The question about the source.
W questions in logical order (not necessarily in the text)
What happened at all?
Who is involved in the event?
Where did it happen?
When did the event take place?
How did it end?
Why did it happen?
Additionally: What sources are there?
On the basis of the reply, journalistic texts can be compiled (→ report). The answers to the individual questions are not necessarily given in this order.
Note: A press release is also written by answering the W questions. It is important to clarify the questions in the first paragraph and not to deal with unnecessary details. Otherwise, our message will quickly migrate into tray P, the recycle bin.
5 W questions for reporting an accident
But not only in the production of text, but also in the reporting of an emergency or accident on the telephone. This is about the presentation of the following information, which, of course, is very closely related to the journalistic way of working.
W questions in the reporting of an accident
Where did it happen?
How many injured people?
What are these injuries?
Waiting for questions
Tips for text production
If we want to write a text based on the W questions, it makes sense to arrange the whole thing a bit. Of course, even if our information comes exclusively from a report or a narrative that does not always answer all points.
Sort all the questions in a table beforehand and complete the information provided by the material.
Then arrange the answers and place them in the order you need for the desired text form.
Write additional information in order to put the W questions in a meaningful context. What information is missing, which data are secured?