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Writing news reports

Newswise values.

This lesson focuses on  all  of the  NewsWise values .

Learning objective

To inform and engage an audience (first draft).

Learning outcomes

Write a first draft of a news report, using the structural and language features of news reports.

Explain how a news report meets the four NewsWise values.

Evaluate a peer’s news report, providing feedback on the language and structural features used.

Starter/baseline assessment

Pupils spend five minutes reviewing their pyramid plan, to remind themselves of the order of information in their reports, while also referring to their original news report plans for detailed information.

As a class, recap the structural and language features of news reporting. How will you begin your news report? Which information will you include in the middle section? How many quotes will you include? How will you end your report? What do you need to remember about using paragraphs in news reports?

Learning activity

Pupils write the first draft of their news reports, using the planning sheets which they created in previous lessons.

Give pupils deadlines throughout the session to replicate the newsroom experience. You may wish to split the sections of the report into separate tasks with a deadline for each one, eg: 5W introduction; quotes and reported speech from interviews; additional research on the topic; final paragraph.

Refer back to the class News report toolkit, as well as the Model news reports and News reporting language word banks from lesson 11 to support pupils to write in an authentic news report style and structure.

See Creating a newsroom for further ideas on how to create a newsroom in your classroom.

Note: pupils do not need to add ‘page furniture’ at this point - this happens in  lesson 15 .

Pupils share their news reports with a partner, providing feedback to each other based upon the following questions: which language features have they included in their news report? Have they begun their news report with a 5 W introduction? Have they included  interesting  information? Have they started a new paragraph for every new point? Is the news report  balanced ? Do you think it is a  truthful  and  fair  report? Why?

Questions for assessment

What is the purpose of your news report? 

Who is your audience? 

What do you need to include in your news report? 

How will you make sure that your news report is truthful, fair, balanced and interesting?

Core knowledge and skills

In this lesson, pupils write the first draft of their news reports (without the ‘page furniture’). 

Conduct the lesson as a writing lesson, in line with your usual practice. Remind pupils of the structural and language features of news reporting by referring to your class’s ‘news report toolkit’.

Use success criteria to remind pupils of the key features of a news report, including: inverted pyramid structure - beginning with the most important information, moving on to additional interesting details and quotes, finishing with what might happen next/similar stories that have happened before/a really good quote that sums up the story; 5 Ws introduction, starting with Who or What, not When; short paragraphs; concise, formal language; written in the third person and past tense; reported and direct speech; relative clauses.

Lesson plan pdf

Creating a newsroom in your classroom

News report toolkit

Inverted pyramid structure

5 W introductions

Model news reports

News reporting language

Curriculum links

Selecting appropriate form, grammar, vocabulary and punctuation; using paragraphs to structure ideas; building cohesion     

Reviewing and editing writing


Finished NewsWise?

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Lesson 14: Subediting news reports

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Lesson 12: Recognising news report language

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Look at the report and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.


Do the preparation exercise first. Then read the text and do the other exercises.


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How to Write a News Report

Last Updated: October 10, 2022 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 26 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 957,597 times.

A news report is similar to a news article. It is the basic facts of a story that is currently happening or that just happened. Writing a news report is easy if you report on the subject clearly, conduct good interviews, and write in a style that is clear, concise, and active.

Sample News Reports

writing a news report worksheet

Collecting Information for the Report

Image titled Write a News Report Step 1

  • Ask around for story ideas, especially government officials and public relations representatives. [1] X Research source
  • Scan the news to see what is already happening. This could lead to you finding other story ideas that are related.
  • Search your city or county's website or directory for local events that are coming up.
  • Attend city council meetings to find out if there are any local issues happening in your area.
  • Sit in on trials at the courthouse and see if anything interesting happens that you could report on.

Image titled Write a News Report Step 2

  • Write down everything you see and everything that takes place.
  • Record and take notes of any speeches that occur at events. Make sure to get the names of the speakers.

Image titled Write a News Report Step 3

  • If the story is controversial or political, make sure to get both sides of the issue.
  • Prepare sample questions, but don't necessarily stick to them. [2] X Research source
  • Think of an interview as a conversation. [3] X Research source
  • Record the interview.
  • Make sure to get the full names (spelled correctly) of anyone you interviewed.

Image titled Write a News Report Step 4

  • Make sure you review your transcriptions to make sure they're accurate. You don't want to misquote someone.

Image titled Write a News Report Step 5

Writing the News Report

Image titled Write a News Report Step 6

  • The headline should be attention grabbing, but not exaggerate or mislead.
  • Capitalize the first word of the headline and any proper nouns after that.
  • If you're having trouble coming up with a headline, you might try writing it last instead. It may be easier to think of a headline after you've finished your article.
  • For example, your headline might read: "Armed robbery at Portland farmer's market"

Image titled Write a News Report Step 7

  • An example of a byline: Sue Smith, Staff Reporter
  • An example of a placeline: EUGENE, ORE. [5] X Research source

Image titled Write a News Report Step 8

  • Don't include people's names in the lead (save that information for later), unless everyone knows who they are (i.e. President Obama).
  • For example: A Seattle man was caught selling stolen cars at his auto shop on Tuesday when a police officer posed as a customer.

Image titled Write a News Report Step 9

  • For example: Mary Quibble has been the director of the children's theater for six years. “I love the children and how much they care about these performances,” Quibble said. “There are 76 kids in the programs. They range in age from 7 to 16 years old.”

Image titled Write a News Report Step 11

  • For example: The woman ran out of the house at 11 p.m. when she heard the burglar enter, police said.

Image titled Write a News Report Step 12

  • Speak in past tense when writing a news report.
  • Start a new paragraph whenever there is a new thought (this might mean you have paragraphs that are as short as a sentence or two)
  • Write your news report in AP Style. [7] X Research source

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Keep your writing short and clear. Thanks Helpful 69 Not Helpful 16
  • Write what happened, not your opinion. Thanks Helpful 53 Not Helpful 24
  • Always include attributions. Thanks Helpful 44 Not Helpful 22

writing a news report worksheet

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  • ↑ https://medium.com/@blazej.kupec/how-journalists-find-stories-and-write-articles-2174e902591c
  • ↑ http://pages.uoregon.edu/sponder/j641/Interview.htm
  • ↑ https://walkwest.com/art-writing-headlines/
  • ↑ https://www.producer.com/opinion/placelines-2/
  • ↑ https://training.npr.org/2016/10/12/leads-are-hard-heres-how-to-write-a-good-one/
  • ↑ https://writer.com/blog/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-ap-style-of-writing/

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a news report, first use key words about your story to write a clear, accurate headline that’s easy to understand. Then, write your byline, which includes your name and title and the date of your report. Put the location of your story on the following line, written all in caps. Next, summarize the who, what, where, when, and why of your report in a couple of sentences. Finally, provide more detailed information from the scene and your interviews with witnesses and key players. Be sure to include quotes and attributions in your report. To learn how to collect information from the scene of your news report, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Writing News Report Grade 4

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Selangan E. Hyldgaard

Arrange the sentences to form a news report. Complete the table below.

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Key facts about u.s. latinos for national hispanic heritage month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins in the United States each year on Sept. 15, celebrates U.S. Latinos , their culture and their history. Started in 1968 by Congress as Hispanic Heritage Week, it was expanded to a month in 1988. The celebration begins in the middle of September to coincide with independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate theirs on Sept. 15, followed by Mexico on Sept. 16, Chile on Sept. 18 and Belize on Sept. 21.

Here are some key facts about the U.S. Latino population by geography and by characteristics such as language use and origin group.

As part of our ongoing research about Hispanics in the United States, we analyzed how this group has changed over time using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The decennial census ( PL94-171 census data ) provided some historical state and national population counts, and population estimates provided the latest data on total population, births and immigration.

We also examined characteristics of the U.S. Hispanic population using the American Community Survey (ACS), which provides data for states and the U.S. on Hispanic origin, language use, country of birth and educational attainment. Data from the 2022 ACS and some from the 2010 ACS are from tabulations released by U.S. Census Bureau . Some ACS and census data is from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) of the University of Minnesota.

The U.S. Hispanic population reached 63.6 million in 2022, up from 50.5 million in 2010. The 26% increase in the Hispanic population was faster than the nation’s 8% growth rate but slower than the 34% increase in the Asian population. In 2022, Hispanics made up nearly one-in-five people in the U.S. (19%), up from 16% in 2010 and just 5% in 1970.

A line chart showing that the U.S. Hispanic population reached more than 63 million in 2022.

Hispanics have played a major role in U.S. population growth over the past decade. The U.S. population grew by 24.5 million from 2010 to 2022, and Hispanics accounted for 53% of this increase – a greater share than any other racial or ethnic group. The next closest group is non-Hispanic people who identify with two or more races. Their population grew by 8.4 million during this time, accounting for 34% of the overall increase.

A bar chart showing that Hispanics made up more than half of total U.S. population growth from 2010 to 2022.

The number of Latinos who say they are multiracial has increased dramatically. More than 27 million Latinos identified with more than one race in 2022, up from 3 million in 2010. The increase could be due to several factors, including changes to the census form that make it easier for people to select multiple races and growing racial diversity.

A bar chart showing that the U.S. Hispanic multiracial population has increased sharply since 2010.

Growth in the number of multiracial Latinos comes primarily from those who identify as at least one specific race and “some other race” (i.e., those who write in a response). This population grew from 2.1 million to 24.9 million between 2010 and 2022 and now represents about 91% of multiracial Latinos. The increase was due almost entirely to growth in the number of people who identified as White and some other race, according to the 2020 census.

At the same time, the number of Latinos who identified as White and no other race declined from 26.7 million in 2010 to 10.7 million in 2022.

The roughly 37.4 million people of Mexican origin in the U.S. represented nearly 60% of the nation’s Hispanic population in 2022. Those of Puerto Rican origin are the next largest group, at 5.9 million, which does not include another roughly 3.2 million Puerto Ricans who lived on the island in 2022. The U.S. population of Puerto Rican origin has grown partly due to people moving from Puerto Rico to the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

A line chart showing that Puerto Rico’s population has declined in recent decades.

Six other Hispanic origin groups in the U.S. each have 1 million or more people: Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians and Hondurans. In addition, in 2022, Spaniards accounted for nearly 1 million U.S. Latinos.

Puerto Rico’s population has declined by about 500,000 since 2010, from 3.7 million to 3.2 million. Puerto Rico has experienced a net population loss since at least 2005 , driven by low fertility rates and migration to the U.S. mainland. An ongoing economic recession and devastation from hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017 have also contributed to the decline.

Venezuelans have seen the fastest population growth among U.S. Latinos. From 2010 to 2022, the Venezuelan-origin population in the U.S. increased by 236% to 815,000. Four other groups saw growth rates exceeding 50%: Hondurans increased by 67%, followed by Guatemalans (62%), Dominicans (59%) and Colombians (51%).

By contrast, the number of people of Mexican origin in the U.S. grew by only 14%, by far the slowest rate among the most populous origin groups.

A table showing Hispanic origin groups in the U.S., 2022.

Hispanics are the largest racial or ethnic group in California and Texas. This demographic milestone in California happened in 2014 and was a first for the state with the nation’s largest Hispanic population . Latinos accounted for 40% of California’s population in 2022, among the greatest shares in the country.

Line charts showing that Hispanics became the largest racial or ethnic group in California in 2014, and in Texas in 2021.

That year, there were about 15.7 million Hispanics in California, up from 14.0 million in 2010. The non-Hispanic White population, the next largest group, declined from 15.0 million to 13.2 million during this time, reflecting a broader national trend .

In Texas, the state with the next largest Latino population (12.1 million), Latinos also made up 40% of the population in 2022 and became the largest racial or ethnic group in 2021. In Florida, the state with the third-largest Latino population (6.0 million), Latinos made up 27% of residents.

A map of the U.S. showing that California and Texas had the nation’s largest Hispanic populations in 2022.

Rounding out the top five states with the largest Hispanic populations were New York (3.9 million) and Arizona (2.4 million). Eight more states had 1 million or more Hispanics: Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Washington and New Mexico.

Vermont had the nation’s smallest Latino population (15,000) in 2022, followed by Maine (29,000), West Virginia and North Dakota (34,000 each), and South Dakota (42,000).

In New Mexico, Hispanics have been a majority of the population since 2021 and the state’s largest racial or ethnic group since the early 2000s. In 2022, the state was home to 1.1 million Hispanics.

Three states’ Hispanic populations increased by more than 1 million from 2010 to 2022. Texas (2.5 million increase), Florida (1.8 million) and California (1.6 million) accounted for almost half of the growth nationwide since 2010. Arizona (480,000 increase), New Jersey (464,000) and New York (432,000) had the next-biggest increases. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have seen growth in their Hispanic populations since 2010.

A map showing that Texas, California and Florida have seen the biggest Hispanic population growth since 2010.

North and South Dakota’s Hispanic populations have grown the fastest since 2010. The number of Hispanics in North and South Dakota more than doubled (146% and 107% increases, respectively) from 2010 to 2022. But even with that growth, these states each had fewer than 45,000 Hispanics in 2022, among the smallest populations in the country.

The slowest growth was in New Mexico (10% increase), California (12%), and Illinois and New York (13% each), all states with significant Hispanic populations.

A map of the U.S. showing that North Dakota and South Dakota have seen the fastest Hispanic population growth since 2010.

The makeup of the U.S. Hispanic population varies widely across major metropolitan areas.  Most of the metro areas in the Midwest, West and South with the largest Hispanic populations are predominantly Mexican. About three-quarters of Hispanics in the Chicago (77%) and Los Angeles (75%) areas identify as Mexican, as do 67% in the Houston area.

Metro areas in the Northeast tend to have more diverse Hispanic origins. For example, no origin group makes up more than 30% of the New York and Boston metro areas’ Hispanic populations.

Metro areas in Florida and the nation’s capital have distinctive Hispanic enclaves. Puerto Ricans make up 43% of Hispanics in the Orlando area, while Cubans make up 39% of Hispanics in the Miami area. In the Washington, D.C., metro area, Salvadorans account for 30% of Hispanics.

A bar chart showing that the U.S. Latino populations are more diverse in Northeastern metro areas than in others.

Catholics remain the largest religious group among Latinos in the U.S., but they have become a smaller share of the Latino population over the past decade. In 2022, 43% of Latinos adults identify as Catholic, down from 67% in 2010. Meanwhile, 30% of Latinos are religiously unaffiliated (describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”), up from 10% in 2010. The share of Latinos who identify as Protestants – including evangelical Protestants – has been relatively stable.

An area chart showing the steady decline in share of U.S. Latinos who identify as Catholic.

Newborns, not immigrants, have driven the recent growth among U.S. Hispanics. During the 2010s, an average of 1 million Hispanic babies were born each year, slightly more than during the 2000s. At the same time, about 350,000 Hispanic immigrants arrived annually, down substantially from the previous two decades.

A bar chart showing that newborns have driven U.S. Hispanic population growth in recent decades, but immigration has slowed.

The recent predominance of new births over immigration as a source of Hispanic population growth is a reversal of historical trends. In the 1980s and 1990s, immigration drove Hispanic population growth.

From 2020 to 2022, average annual births among Hispanics were slightly below the previous decade, but immigration decreased considerably, from 350,000 per year to 270,000. Some of this decline can be attributed to immigration into the U.S. stopping almost entirely during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the removal of pandemic-related restrictions , the contribution of immigration to Hispanic growth appears to be returning to early 2010s levels.

The share of Latinos in the U.S. who speak English proficiently is growing. In 2022, 72% of Latinos ages 5 and older spoke English proficiently, up from 59% in 2000. U.S.-born Latinos are driving this growth: The share of U.S.-born Latinos who speak English proficiently increased by 9 percentage points in that span, compared with a 5-point increase among Latino immigrants. All told, 42.3 million Latinos in the U.S. spoke English proficiently in 2022.

Line charts showing that, for Latinos, English proficiency has increased and Spanish use at home has decreased, especially among those born in the U.S.

At the same time, the share of Latinos who speak Spanish at home declined from 78% in 2000 to 68% in 2022, and most of that decline was among the U.S. born.

Even though the share of Latinos who speak Spanish at home has declined, the number who do so has grown from 24.6 million in 2000 to 39.7 million in 2022 because of the overall growth in the Latino population.

The share of U.S. Hispanics with college experience has increased since 2010. About 45% of U.S. Hispanic adults ages 25 and older had at least some college experience in 2022, up from 36% in 2010. The share of Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree or more education also increased, from 13% to 20%. The share with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased more among Hispanic women (from 14% to 22%) than Hispanic men (12% to 18%).

The number of Latinos enrolled in college or postgraduate education also increased between 2010 and 2022, from 2.9 million to 4.2 million. Among all U.S. undergraduate and graduate students, the share of Latinos increased from 14% in 2010 to 20% in 2022, slightly higher than the Latino share of the total population.

Four-in-five Latinos are U.S. citizens. As of 2022, 81% of Latinos living in the country are U.S. citizens, up from 74% in 2010. This includes people born in the U.S. and its territories (including Puerto Rico), people born abroad to American parents, and immigrants who have become naturalized citizens. The Center recently published citizenship rates among Hispanic origin groups for 2021; this data is not yet available for 2022.

Note: This post has been regularly updated since it was originally published on Sept. 16, 2014.

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Facts on Hispanics of Venezuelan origin in the United States, 2021

Facts on hispanics of salvadoran origin in the united states, 2021, facts on hispanics of puerto rican origin in the united states, 2021, facts on hispanics of peruvian origin in the united states, 2021, facts on hispanics of panamanian origin in the united states, 2021, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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Wildfire-prone California to consider new rules for property insurance pricing

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara speaks during a news conference in a Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. Lara announced a new plan aimed at keeping insurance companies from leaving the wildfire-prone state. (AP Photo/Adam Beam)

FILE - Woodbridge firefighter Joe Zurilgen passes a burning home as the Kincade Fire rages in Healdsburg, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2019. California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced plans on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, aimed at keeping home insurers in California amid increasing risks from climate change. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

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writing a news report worksheet

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will let insurance companies consider climate change when setting their prices, the state’s chief regulator announced Thursday, a move aimed at preventing insurers from fleeing the state over fears of massive losses from wildfires and other natural disasters.

Unlike other states, California does not let insurance companies consider current or future risks when deciding how much to charge for an insurance policy. Instead, they can only consider what’s happened on a property in the past to set the price.

At a time when climate change is making wildfires, floods and windstorms more common, insurers say that restriction makes it difficult to truly price the risk on properties. It’s one reason why, in the past year, seven of the top 12 insurance companies doing business in California have either paused or restricted new business in the state.

On Thursday, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said the state will write new rules to let insurers look to the future when setting their rates. But companies will only get to do this if they agree to write more policies for homeowners who live in areas with the most risk — including communities threatened by wildfires.

FILE - The Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. returns on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 22, 2017, to hear testimony from Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has died. She was 90. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

“Modernizing our insurance market is not going to be easy or happen overnight. We are in really unchartered territory and we must make difficult choices when the world is changing rapidly,” Lara said at a news conference.

The rule change could mean higher rates for homeowners who are already seeing dramatic increases. Eight insurance companies doing business in California have requested rate increases of at least 20% or higher this year, according to the California Department of Insurance.

Harvey Rosenfield, founder of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog and author of a 1988 ballot proposition that regulates insurance rates, said Lara’s announcement “will dramatically increase homeowner and renter insurance bills by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.”

But Lara said looking to the future to set rates doesn’t have to always be pessimistic. Insurers can also consider the billions of dollars the state has spent to better manage forests and the improvements homeowners have made to their homes to make them resistant to wildfires — all things insurers aren’t allowed to consider when setting rates under the current rules.

“Insurers have advanced a very powerful argument that the past is not as good a predictor of the future as it used to be,” said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a national insurance consumer organization. “I think the (Insurance) department did what it needed to do to try to restore a viable market. We don’t have a viable market right now in this state in a lot of areas.”

California isn’t the only state that’s struggled to keep home insurance companies amid natural disasters. Officials in Florida and Louisiana , which deal with hurricanes and flooding, have fought to keep companies writing policies. A recent report from First Street Foundation said about one-quarter of all homes in the nation are underpriced for climate risk in insurance. Florida allows insurers to consider climate risk with restrictions. States with less regulated insurance markets have insurers who build current and future events into their models.

Wildfires have always been part of life in California, where it only rains for a few months out of the year. But as the climate has gotten hotter and dryer, it has made those fires much larger and more intense. Of the top 20 most destructive wildfires in state history, 14 have occurred since 2015, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Insurance companies have responded by not renewing coverage for many homeowners who live in areas threatened by wildfires. When that happens, homeowners who need insurance must purchase it from the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan. The plan is primarily funded by policies sold to customers. Insurers only pay into the fund if it is insolvent or to keep it from going insolvent.

People with mortgages often have to buy home insurance because their lender requires it. The number of people on California’s FAIR plan nearly doubled in the five years leading up to 2021, and that number has almost certainly increased even more in the past two years.

Lara said his plan is to require insurance companies to write policies for no less than 85% of their statewide market share in areas at risk for wildfires. That means if a company writes policies for 20 homes, it must write 17 new policies for homeowners in wildfire-distressed areas — moving those people off of the FAIR Plan.

“This is a historic agreement between the department and insurance companies,” Lara said.

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association, which represents insurers, called Lara’s actions “the first steps of many needed to address the deterioration” of the market.

“California’s 35-year-old regulatory system is outdated, cumbersome and fails to reflect the increasing catastrophic losses consumers and businesses are facing from inflation, climate change, extreme weather and more residents living in wildfire prone areas,” Denni Ritter, vice president for state government relations, said in a statement.

Jeremy Porter, a co-author of the First Street Foundation report on climate risk, said allowing insurers to consider climate change in their pricing might lead to more competition in the state’s insurance market.

“If this is implemented correctly, this would definitely allow insurers to come back into the market in California,” he said.

Some consumer groups, including Consumer Watchdog, say they are not opposed to insurance companies using a model to look to the future to set their rates. But they want to see what is in that model. It’s not clear if California’s new rules will allow that. State regulators will spend much of the next year deciding what the rule will be.

Lara said he’s committed to making those models public.

“The department will be able to verify these models to make sure they’re accurate,” he said.

This story has been corrected to say that a fund to provide coverage for people who can’t get coverage through no fault of their own is primarily funded by policies sold to customers. Insurers only pay into the fund if it is insolvent or to keep it from going insolvent.

This story has been corrected to fix the second reference to the foundation to say First Street, not Front Street.

Associated Press writer Ken Sweet contributed from New York.


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CBS News poll: Trump leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, where retail campaigning hasn't closed the gap

By Kabir Khanna, Fred Backus, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto

September 26, 2023 / 5:00 PM / CBS News

The conventional wisdom is that retail politics — the door-knocking, hand-shaking grassroots campaigning for months before the primaries — make Iowa and New Hampshire different from what we see nationally. And like a lot of conventional wisdom these days, that's looking outdated.

Today, national frontrunner and former President Donald Trump also leads the Republican primary field comfortably in both Iowa and New Hampshire. And most of his supporters are backing him enthusiastically. His current margins would translate to him getting half of Iowa's delegates and the lion's share in New Hampshire.

GOP voters in both states overwhelmingly say their focus is on national, not state, issues. 

Nor is there much provinciality when it comes to asking for time in-state. Trump's lead is much the same whether people feel it's important to see candidates stump in Iowa or New Hampshire, or not.

As in years past, these states might share a place on the calendar, but not always an ideology. 

One important difference today is on abortion. In Iowa, most GOP caucus voters would not only have abortion be illegal, but would also criminally punish a woman for having one. That's not the case in New Hampshire.


In another gauge of what's driving the campaign, voters in both states report seeing ads on television and social media, more than any direct contact with a campaign or a volunteer.

All of the above will probably still matter on the organizational front, when people actually have to caucus or stand in line to vote this winter.

The impact of local political endorsers, like governors and congressional leaders, looks limited at best. It may be that in an era of big-spending campaigns and social media — when voters can hear the opinions of so many — top elected officials, even friends and family, don't necessarily carry that much weight. That said, it may also be a function of a contest where the leading candidate is so well-known, and voters don't need endorsements as much to get to know the field.

For now, however, the dominant power of being a well-known and still popular former president in Republican circles appears to have the same outsized impact on preference in these states as it does nationally.


Trump's perceived strengths, including electability

Trump's big lead comes because, of the qualities tested, he does very well on being seen as prepared and as a strong leader. Few describe Trump as likable. While fewer than half say he understands people like them or describe him as a "true conservative," he nonetheless has a dominant lead among self-described conservative voters. 

Perceived electability is also very important, and Trump is the only candidate whom a majority of Republican primary voters think would definitely beat President Biden.


More broadly, Republican primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire differ somewhat on the best strategy to create a winning coalition for the general election. And it appears to matter to their vote choice. 

In Iowa, a slight majority of Republican primary voters say it's more important to motivate the base than appeal to moderates and independents. In New Hampshire, appealing to moderates and independents is more prevalent — probably because there simply are more independents involved there.

Trump leads overwhelmingly among those who think the nominee should appeal to the base. But among those who prefer a nominee with wider appeal, Trump drops below majority support — even if those voters haven't coalesced on an alternative.


The second tier: Voters are still shopping around, but the non-Trump vote is splintered

In what seems a race for a distant second, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stands in Iowa about where he's been in our national tracking. In New Hampshire, Nikki Haley and Chris Christie are doing better than they've done nationally, primarily because they are doing better among independent voters likely to turn out in the Republican primary than among out-and-out Republicans.

Even if these two states don't always pick the eventual nominee, they historically have played another role in the primary campaign. They often winnow the field, and sometimes a single alternative to the frontrunner emerges. There are plenty of possibilities for that to occur this year, but as of now, support for candidates in the second tier remains very fragmented.

In both states, most voters are still considering multiple candidates. In fact, just a fifth in Iowa and about a quarter in New Hampshire are considering Trump and nobody else, making his support "floor" a bit lower in these early states than it looks nationwide. Most of Trump's backers are considering at least one other candidate, and these voters are more likely to say they're supporting him "with some reservations" than Trump-and-only-Trump voters are. And in both states, only-Trump voters are outnumbered by the third of the electorate who aren't considering him at all.


Voters considering choices other than Trump say they are doing so to keep their options open. They also show concern about Trump's controversies and legal fights, and think the party should consider someone new. Few say it's because he could lose to Mr. Biden. And few say they don't like Trump personally or that he doesn't represent their state's values (though they're likelier to say so in New Hampshire than in Iowa).

Non-Trump voters tend to be actively considering more candidates on average — half of them are currently considering three or more, underscoring that fragmentation. DeSantis is being considered by the most non-Trump voters in Iowa, while Haley leads in consideration by that group in New Hampshire, followed closely by DeSantis.

Back to those independents in New Hampshire: Even though they are less supportive of Trump, he's still winning them easily, due in part to Haley, Christie and DeSantis splitting the bulk of the non-Trump voters among themselves. This is the same dynamic we saw in the 2016 primary, when Trump carried independents with only around a third of their votes. Where his challengers end up this year may depend on the eventual turnout of independents — they constituted a sizable segment of the 2012 and 2016 primary electorate — as well as whether they start to coalesce around an alternative.


Abortion and the campaign

Abortion not only plays an important role in GOP primaries, but also marks a large difference between these two states.

In New Hampshire, unlike in Iowa, half of Republican primary voters think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Most Iowa Republican primary voters think a woman should be criminally punished for having an abortion. Most New Hampshire voters disagree.


Trump leads no matter how these voters feel about abortion. 

But the second tier looks a little different in New Hampshire, where relatively more voters would have abortion be legal. Trump still leads, but by a significantly smaller margin, with Christie and Haley edging out DeSantis for second and third place. 

For the four in 10 Trump voters who think abortion should be legal in New Hampshire, few are considering Christie, and about half say they at least might consider Haley — particularly the women among them.


The second debate

There is interest in the second presidential debate , with most Republican voters planning to watch, and most saying the presidential debates are a major factor for them in evaluating the candidates. Trump is not planning to attend Wednesday's debate, but many of his supporters say debates are a major factor, perhaps because most of his voters are at least considering other candidates at this point.


The race for delegates — what ultimately matters

Candidates' current standing in our polling would translate to Trump picking up about half the delegates in Iowa and the majority of New Hampshire's relatively small delegate haul. Specifically, he would bring in about 20 of Iowa's 40 delegates and 17 of New Hampshire's 22.

These are not forecasts , but instead a translation of voters' current preferences to delegate breakdowns. While the first two states account for just a small portion of the roughly 1,200 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination, the delegate tally is the score that ultimately matters. And emerging from early contests with a small number of delegates versus none at all can help candidates decide whether to stay in the race or drop out.

We produce estimates via statistical simulation, in which we use the variation in our survey data to simulate the state's vote one thousand times, enumerating lots of possible outcomes. Each simulation incorporates the rules of the nominating contest in that state, such as delegate rounding and thresholds. (We used a similar technique to estimate delegates during the 2020 Democratic primary campaign .)

The end result is delegate range for each candidate — again, indicating where the race stands today, not where it will end up next year. Trump's current support translates to between 18 and 23 delegates in Iowa, where delegates are allocated proportionally based on the statewide vote. DeSantis is in a distant second with 6 to 10 delegates, and the rest of the field tends to pick up at most a few delegates each.

In New Hampshire, where candidates have to win at least 10% of votes statewide to qualify for any delegates, Trump dominates. Our simulations indicate his support translates to between 14 and 20 delegates, even though only half of the state's primary voters name him their first choice. Since there isn't a clear second-place candidate, four candidates are hovering around that 10% threshold: DeSantis, Haley, Christie, and Vivek Ramaswamy. In some simulations, they qualify for a few delegates. In many, they fall a little short and get nothing, helping pad the front-runner's lead.

These CBS News/YouGov surveys were conducted between September 15-24, 2023. They are based on representative samples of 1,011 registered voters in Iowa and 943 in New Hampshire. The samples were weighted according to gender, age, race, education, and geographic region based on the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. Results here are reported among likely Republican caucus/primary voters, and have a margin of error of ±6.1 points in Iowa (n=458) and ±5.4 points in New Hampshire (n=502).

New Hampshire :

  • New Hampshire
  • Voter Turnout
  • Republican Debate
  • Opinion Poll
  • New Hampshire primary
  • Republican National Convention
  • Republican National Committee
  • Iowa Caucuses
  • Donald Trump
  • Republican Party


Kabir Khanna is Deputy Director, Elections & Data Analytics at CBS News. He conducts surveys, develops statistical models, and projects races at the network Decision Desk. His scholarly research centers on political behavior and methodology. He holds a PhD in political science from Princeton University.

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