What makes news NewsWhy are my paragraphs so short? by Candace Perkins Bowen Associate professor Director, Center for Scholastic Journalism Kent State University firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep these ideas in mind:Each has a different audience. With an English class essay, the writer usually has an audience of one — the teacher. When writing for media, the writer has a much broader audience — the entire school or community.Each has a different purpose. Usually the English essay writer is trying to impress the teacher… and get an A! The journalist needs to clearly and often quickly inform, entertain or persuade an audience.
Here are some differences…Journalistic writing has “English class” writing has short, concise sentences. longer, more complexJW has simple, sentences. understandable words. ECW uses more multi-JW uses short syllable words. paragraphs, often one or ECW often has two sentences. paragraphs of 100 words or more, including a topic sentence and its support.
Organization varies…Newswriting is Essays traditionally are five traditionally arranged in paragraphs. an inverted pyramid. The first paragraph is the introduction and thesisThe first paragraph is the statement. lead -- with 5Ws and H. Second, third and fourthA summary lead is paragraphs develop the usually one sentence. topic using Compare and contrastAdditional paragraphs Definition are short and contain Classification, etc. less and less important The final paragraph is the information. conclusion.
Organization Five-Paragraph EssayInverted pyramid Intro/Thesis Lead – statement 5Ws & H Body Gets less important Conclusion
information-gathering varies, too…Media writing uses lots Essays often require of primary sources. material from Interviews Reading a particular Experts work Spokespersons Drawing on insight and Newsmakers information from previous readings or ‘People on the street’ lecturesSecondary sources Applying personal include: experience Official records Reference materials Other media
But keep in mindwhy that’s the case: Different audience Different purpose
BEWARE OF PLAGIARISM! All writing needs attribution…Media writing works Essays use various attribution into context: citation forms: “The result is dangerous,” MLA Mayor Fred Norton said. APA According to the Health Commission’s survey, 27 This could include: percent of the participants Footnotes or endnotes lost weight. Parenthetical citationsThis is also necessary Bibliography when using secondary sources the reporter didn’t interview: “The result is dangerous,” Mayor Fred Norton told the Greenville Times.
It’s not quite that simple, but…Not every assignment in English class is a five-paragraph essay. Not every story in the media is a traditional news story. Today’s publications — especially student media — often use news features. These start with a “softer” lead Anecdote Description Suspended interest, etc. Organization varies but generally has An interest-catching beginning A “nut graph” to show the focus An ending that makes it feel “finished” Plenty of short, interesting quotes Transition to tie all the parts together
news and features don’t contain reporter opinionWhile all readers would agree, it’s not a “tragic fire.”Without a survey or other way to show this, it’s not accurate to say “everyone owns an iPod.” What is the source? Who researched this?And even if “Greenville High School is better off because she won the award,” the reporter shouldn’t be the one to say it.
What IS the same?The basic writing process Brainstorm for ideas Gather information Organize and select appropriate information Write the first draft Share with a coach Use coaching suggestions and insight for second draft Tweak as many times as necessary, polish and submit
Common Core: College and career readiness anchor standards for writingGrades 6-12 – Text types & purposes1.Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. [editorials/columns/reviews]2.Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. [in-depth news, features]3.Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences. [narrative features]
Common Core: College and career readiness anchor standards for writingGrades 6-12 – Production and Distribution1.Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. [any journalism]2.Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. [editorial process – including possible alternative story forms]3.Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. [definitely!]
Common Core: College and career readiness anchor standards for writingGrades 6-12 – Range of writing1.Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) [publication cycle]2. and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences. [Web vs. newspaper or news magazine?]
So…what else makes it Journalism?Writing for media, based on its purposehave something we call NEWS VALUES. Timeliness Proximity Prominence Human interest Significance Impact
Good writing is still good writing…But when you become journalists, you have to remember you have A different audience A different purpose And that may mean leaving some of your English class writing behind, but it still means incorporating Common Core Standards.