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The nut graph: The point of the story in a nutshell

AT The Nut Graph, we believe that it’s not enough to just report if we want to add value to our readers’ experience of the news. We think it’s important for journalists to make sense of and draw conclusions from the events and people we write about, and to piece past and present facts together so we can figure out what it all means.

That’s why the nut graph is so important in a news story. It’s the paragraph that explains, in a nutshell, the point of a story. It’s the kernel that provides rocket fuel for our reports and understanding and knowledge for our readers. The nut graph lets readers know why an article was important or significant enough that it had to be written, published and read. It allows readers to understand why the heck they were invited to the party and why they should seriously consider attending.

The US-based Poynter Institute explains that the “nut graf” has several purposes:

  • It justifies the story by telling readers why they should care.
  • It provides a transition from the lead and explains the lead and its connection to the rest of the story.
  • It often tells readers why the story is timely.
  • It often includes supporting material that helps readers see why the story is important.
    (For a detailed discussion, see http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=52&aid=34457)

In effect, the nut paragraph (“graph” or “graf” is short for “paragraph”) is the “So what?” paragraph of a story. By constantly encouraging ourselves — as journalists — and our readers, to ask “So what?” (i.e. “So, what’s the point?”), The Nut Graph hopes to provide insight into the news through incisive news reporting, editorials and commentaries.

As an independent Malaysian news site, we aim to provide space for columnists and reader comments from as broad a political spectrum, and from as many sectors of interest, as possible. We cannot draw the big picture if we don’t see all the parts of the elephant in front of us.

We believe that both politics and popular culture provide us indicators about the health of our democracy and the directions we may be heading in as a nation. Hence our tag line: “Making sense of politics and popular culture”.

“Politics” for us is not just about politicians, political parties and government. But, more importantly, politics is about the relationships of power among different stakeholders involved in an issue. Hence, we think it’s important for us to understand the politics of race in Malaysia, for example, or the politics of education, of the environment, of healthcare, of local councils and governments, and so on, so that we can have a fuller understanding about the state of this nation we call home.

We also think that popular culture provides us with an important insight into how Malaysians live, express themselves, intersect and interact with each other, and how we find ways to make sense of what it means to be Malaysian. And because we believe that in a vibrant democracy, artistic expressions are just as legitimate as an official memorandum, we also aim to foreground counter- and subaltern cultures so that our readers can have a richer understanding of what makes Malaysia what it is. End of Article

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