One Number Story


January 27, 2023


For your first journalistic writing assignment, you will write a “one-number story.” This is a short piece (250–500 words) that focuses on one number. It could be a maximum, a mean, a percent change, etc. You will probably have more than one numeral in the story, because you will want to contextualize your number, but the focus should be on one small conclusion.

Your story should be newsworthy. Your story should exhibit basic journalistic style (see below). You will develop your story through revision and feedback.


  • Step One: You will submit a list of 2–4 ideas for a one number story to the #one-number-story-ideas channel on Slack, by Friday, Feb 3, 5 pm. You will receive feedback on these ideas.
  • Step Two: Based on the feedback you receive, you will pick one of these ideas and write the story. The story is due at midnight on Sunday, Feb 12. You will receive feedback on this version of the story.
  • Step Three: You will revise your one number story based on the feedback you receive. A polished version is due at midnight on Sunday, Feb 19.

Basic Journalistic Style

  • Introductory Hook: something catchy and current.
  • Nutgraph: the meat of the story – provides the main point or theme (1-3 sentences).
  • Mechanistic Development: sequence of facts, quotes, and analysis that tells the story.
  • Inclusion of quotes by experts, eye witnesses or other sources – effective quotes employ key details, characterization, entertaining and clear analogies NOT NEEDED FOR THIS STORY
  • Counterargument: usually occurs about two-thirds of the way through the piece.
  • Conclusion: the broader meaning and implications.


One Number Story rubric
Criteria C B A
Newsworthiness The story does not present a newsworthy point deriving from your original thinking and work. Broad unsubstantiated claims are made. While the story contains newsworthy information from your data, the news nugget is not used as the central point of the story and is obscured. Claims may not be substantiated. The story articulates a clear point that derives from your original data analysis, engages the public interest, and is ‘newsworthy’ by the criteria discussed in class. Claims/points are journalistically supported.
Journalistic Structure Journalistic structure has been weakly engaged with and important elements are absent. No distinction between lede and nutgraph is evident, and/or no nutgraph is provided. Elements such as development of the point or counterargument are missing. Writing may have serious grammar or structural problems. A lede and nutgraph are present but may not be clearly articulated or are not fully connected to the story’s central point. Other parts of the article may be disorganized or unclear. Explanations may contain too much technical jargon or significant grammar errors. The piece has a clear lede closely connected to the topic. The nutgraph articulates the heart of the story/the main point that motivates the piece. Subsequent development presents a logical description of how the point was reached in a sequence of paragraphs normally containing from 1-4 lines. A counterargument and kicker (or conclusion) are included. Language is clear.
The Number The piece is not motivated by a number, and/or the number is of dubious veracity. An authoritative number is present, but is ancillary to the story, not integrated with the story’s point, or not contextualized in a meaningful way. An authoritative number is obviously motivating the story. Analysis and contextualization of the number contributes to interest of the piece.