W-Questions

W-Questions, or the Five Ws, are the common and basic questions used when gathering information. They were put together in order to devise a complete analysis of a topic. The questions include:

  • Who is it about?
  • What happened?
  • When did it take place?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Why did it happen?

By answering each of these questions, a journalist can get a comprehensive and accurate breakdown of whatever situation they are looking into. These questions were specifically formulated so it is impossible to just give a simple yes or no reply.

Journalism classes in schools have been teaching the w-questions since the early 1900s. It has been regarded as behind the times compared to newer journalism trends, however it is still commonly used today. Some journalists add a sixth question, "How did it happen", but it is not necessarily needed. All information should be attained just by using the original five simple questions.

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