News writing

COMM 205
Writing for the Media
Week 2

– the most frequent problem faced by beginning news writers is WHERE TO START? – LIKE WRITER’S BLOCK
– we will help you learn where to start
– after that it’s easy, trust me
– once you get into the habit it’s automatic
– As a journalist, you must also forget about drawing conclusions
– journalists don’t draw conclusions
– they only present facts
– How do you end your story?
– it’s very simple: JUST STOP WRITING
– when you have written all you can in your allotted space, you are finished

Different from academic writing
Academic writing:
Media writing:
Lead with most important facts
Follow with next most important facts

Some basic rules
write in the past tense
write in the third person – use he, she or they, not I, we or you
keep your sentences short: 20-25 words
keep your paragraphs short, usually no more than two sentences
weed out unnecessary words

The inverted pyramid
write in the inverted pyramid style
top-heavy in important facts
leave old news and details for later
lead paragraph is the most important
make sure it has the most important info

Problems in news writing
Where to start?
Not at beginning. Start with what is NEW
Distill essence of story in order of importance to the audience
How to end?
Just stop writing
Facts of lesser importance at end
Allows editors to “cut” story from bottom

for this course not only will you need to learn media writing
– but you also need to unlearn some of the writing habits you have learned
for this course you will have to learn different WAYS of writing
– News writing is much different from academic writing
– there are subtle differences between newspaper writing and writing for broadcast
– and there are differences between news writing and public relations writing
— and advertising copy writing
This course is intended to teach you a bit about each of these
– but more importantly the differences between them
You must learn more than one way of writing – FLEXIBILITY KEY – HARD TO SWITCH
You are all here because you have learned very well to write in a certain way
– You learned throughout your schooling to write in an academic way
There is a certain structure to the academic writing style
– You start with an introduction
– Then you proceed to the main BODY of your essay
– And you end by drawing some conclusions
**For this course and for other media writing courses you must FORGET THAT**
– Forget the introduction
– journalists get into their subject by taking a direct approach

The Five Ws . . . and one H

Simple . . . or short?
shorter words usually better
less complicated, so more understandable
avoid worst writing mistake of all
trying to show off by using big words, etc.

The importance of re-writing
nothing is written perfectly first time
because it can always be improved after a good re-writing
if possible, give time before re-writing
work on something else
or have someone else rewrite it
good copy editor a writer’s best friend


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