Writing for Media - Writing
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Writing for Media - Writing

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DML Communications' Mike Lawson presents the writing session of his Writing for the Media class held at UCSD Extension.

DML Communications' Mike Lawson presents the writing session of his Writing for the Media class held at UCSD Extension.

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  • 1. Writing for the Mass Media UCSD Extension Mike Lawson 760/753-5943 [email_address]
  • 2. What is Good Writing?
    • Clear, concise, simple, and to the point
      • Efficient - minimum words to make your point
      • Precise - every word has a meaning
      • Clear - leaves no doubt in reader’s mind
      • Modest - don’t show off your intelligence
  • 3. Know the Tools of the Trade
    • Grammar
    • Spelling
    • Punctuation
    • Dictionary
    • Thesaurus
  • 4. Know Your Subject
    • Don’t have to be an expert
    • But have a clear idea
    • Your readers must understand your content
    • Don’t know subject - research!
      • Search engines
      • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
      • Book stores
  • 5. Write It Down
    • Just start writing (edit later)
    • Develop writing habits
    • Be a pro - meet your deadlines
    • Edit and Rewrite
      • Discipline
      • Re-read
      • Edit
      • Rewrite (critically)
  • 6. Write Simply
    • Use simple words - key to clarity
      • “ many” instead of “numerous”
      • “ use” instead of “utilize”
      • “ ease” instead of “facilitate”
      • Use simple sentences
      • Brevity (edit to cut out unnecessary words)
  • 7. Chief Goal of a Writer
    • The chief goal of any writer for the mass media is to be accurate.
      • The reason for an emphasis on accuracy is that people will not watch or subscribe to news that they believe to be inaccurate.
  • 8. Clarity
    • Clarity must be one of the chief goals of a writer for the mass media.
      • Facts that are unclearly presented are of little use to the reader. Some tips:
        • Keep it simple
        • Avoid jargon
        • Be specifc (who, what, when, where, why, and how)
        • Check time sequences (ensure narrative sequence)
        • Include transitions (story should flow logically)
  • 9. Eliminate Jargon, Cliches, etc.
    • Jargon - industry technical language
    • Cliches - overused words and phrases
    • Bureaucratese - misuse of language
    • Vary sentence length
    • Pay attention to nouns and verbs
    • Transitions tie it together
  • 10. Obscure Grammar Terms
    • Parallelism
      • She likes running, cooking, and swimming.
    • Active/Passive Voice
      • John throws the ball
      • The ball is thrown by John.
    • That and Which
      • That introduces essential clauses. Which introduces non-essential clauses.
  • 11. Writing for Mass Media
    • Subject matter
      • News, features, ads, letters, editorials
    • Purpose
      • Inform, entertain, persuade
    • Audience
      • Know your target audience (defines message)
  • 12. Journalist Conventions
    • Inverted pyramid
    • Types of stories
    • Balance and fairness
    • Impersonal reporter
    • Reliance on official sources
    • Attributions and quotations
  • 13. Text and Images
    • Stories built around graphics
      • Photos, logos, graphs, charts
      • TV, mags, web
    • Editors love graphics
      • Graphics attract the reader’s eye
      • Breaks up the text (less intimidating to read)
  • 14. AP Style: Capitalization
    • Capitalize holidays, historic events, church feast days, and special events -- but not seasons
    • Capitalize proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, and tribes
    • Capitalize and place quotations around books, plays, poems, songs, speech titles, hymns, movies, TV shows, etc. when the full name is used
  • 15. AP Style: Numbers
    • Spell out both numbers one through nine and Arabic numerals for 10 and above
    • Use commas in numbers with four or more digits except for years and addresses
    • Numbers greater than a million may be rounded off and expressed:
      • 2.75 million instead of 2,752,123
      • $2.35 million instead of $2,349,999
  • 16. AP Style: Punctuation
    • Colon used in clock time
      • 9:15 a.m., 10 a.m. (not 10:00 a.m.)
    • Hyphen used in phrasal adjectives
      • 7-year-old boy, a little-known man
    • Combinations of a number plus a noun measurement
      • 3-inch bug, 6-foot man, two-man team
    • Hyphen always used with the prefix “ex”
      • Ex-president, ex-chairman
    • Hyphen not used with adverb ending in “ly”
    • Comma omitted before Roman numerals and before Jr. and Sr. in names
  • 17. AP Style: Names & Titles
    • Identify people in the news with first and last name
    • Use full name in first reference, last name rest of time
      • Richard Cooper, then use Cooper rest of time
    • Titles before names - capitalized
      • Chairman and CEO, Bob Stanwick
    • Titles following names - not capitalized
      • Linda Bellweather, president of ABC Company
  • 18. Finally…
    • Writing is a process
      • Research, create, write, edit, proofread
    • Writing requires discipline
      • Be patient and stick with it
    • Writing is building
      • Word by word, sentence by sentence, etc.
    • Finally … sit down and write