n today’s world, we have all become journalists in our own ways, and this is good news.
Most of us walk around with a powerful smartphone device in our pockets that’s equipped with a high-definition camera and social media apps that can immediately help upload a story. In addition to that, we now have access to an array of blogs and websites to compose the news.
This is a tremendous development for both ourselves – we’ve all had a desire in our younger days to become the next Woodward and Bernstein – and those looking for news from a different perspective. Journalism has greatly changed, and this is only proving to be a benefit for society.
Gizmodo opines that journalism is not only surviving but it’s thriving, too:
“Journalism isn’t dying, or getting old, or merely surviving. It’s just changing. And in many respects, it has never been better. We are now in a Golden Age of journalism, largely driven by mobile devices. Journalism’s biggest problem isn’t that it’s in financial trouble, it’s that there is too much of it. And in that glut there’s a tremendous opportunity.
“Mobile devices are turning us all into reporters. The citizen journalist hasn’t been such an important player since the days of the American Revolution. That’s largely been a cell phone phenomena; everyday people can both record and broadcast information widely, and in narrow channels.”
Now, it may be simple to record a newsworthy incident that the media have yet to come across. But what if you’re interested in actually writing a newspaper-style article? That can be a little bit trickier since not all of us are wordsmiths or wordmongers. This may be a hurdle to overcome.
Don’t worry. All you have to do is go back to the old adage of practice makes perfect. Oh, and here are five writing tips that you should consider using when penning your potential Pulitzer prize-winning article about how a local coffee shop is no longer serving a specific latte.
Don’t Forget the Five Ws (oh, and One H)
This goes back to elementary school: the five Ws, otherwise known as the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “why.” We also can’t forget about the one H, which is “how.”
It may seem silly to use advice you were given in the third grade, but the five Ws and one H are essential even to 10,000-word pieces you may peruse in the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine or the New York Times. Before you do anything, know the five Ws and one Oh.
Compile the Facts
John Adams once wrote that “facts are stubborn things.” He was certainly correct, especially in today’s society where facts are often ignored or avoided altogether, or completely misconstrued by someone with an agenda. Not you, though! You only care about the facts. So when you write a news story, take the time to compile and assess the facts – don’t forget to fact-check.
Avoid Being Biased; Don’t Take Sides
It’s easy to trap yourself into composing a biased article. Perhaps the facts don’t fit in with your narrative, or the information you’ve obtained may be at odds with your principles. Well, check your biases at the door and just concentrate on the cold hard facts and what actually happened when you covered an event, spoke with a subject or recorded a press conference. Don’t take sides, just hone in on what’s really going on, not what you think is transpiring.
The Rambling Rant
When you’re a novelist, long-winded, rambling rants have become the norm. However, when you’re writing a journalistic piece, you need to be concise, succinct and straight to the point without any poetic narrative.
Edusson.com, an academic writing advisory service, warns that this is one of the biggest grammar violations when delving into the world of journalism. Edusson’s Cassandara Bondie recommends that journalists, or citizen journalists, write two or three short sentences instead of something you read in a Fyodor Dostoevsky or Franz Kafka novel when composing a news story.
A Strong Leading Sentence, Conclusion
Most Internet readers have the attention span of a monkey. In fact, the world’s attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. What does this have to do with your journalistic plight? Everything!
You want your article to be read from the very first word to the very last. So you have to grab your readers’ attention right away, and this is where your first sentence comes into play. In order to succeed in this aim, the first sentence should contain an interesting fact, perhaps a quip or maybe something that piques the interest of the reader. Whatever the case, your leading sentence has to be good enough to encourage the reader to go on.
The concluding sentence also has to be strong since the reader will remember this part the most. The best course of action is to tie the entire article up in one sentence with a little bit of observation or final thought. Simply put: the reader should say out loud, “Humph!”
Writing, like anything else, is a science, and it takes practice to become talented in this industry. Some writers have been doing this their entire lives and they’re always improving on their present knowledge. Indeed, you may not earn any money from your journalistic piece, but don’t you want the general public to admire your work? Remember, there is so much bad content out there so don’t contribute to the endless stream of error-filled content on the Internet.