Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
8 tips on how to write a newspaper column   wiki how
8 tips on how to write a newspaper column   wiki how
8 tips on how to write a newspaper column   wiki how
8 tips on how to write a newspaper column   wiki how
8 tips on how to write a newspaper column   wiki how
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

8 tips on how to write a newspaper column wiki how

1,172

Published on

Published in: News & Politics, Education
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
1,172
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
4
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. 8 Tips on How to Write a Newspaper Column - wikiHow Follow us on Pinterest Sign Up or Log In or Log In via Home Articles Community My Profile Search Home » Categories » Education and Communications » Writing » Publishing Edit Write An Article Random Article How to Write a Newspaper Column http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Newspaper-Column like http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wikihow.com%2FWrite-a-Newspaper-Column AVoKo8cM Edited by Len Pal, Nicole Willson, Ben Rubenstein, A. Wallace and 42 others 1 104 24 Article Edit Discuss Like Writing a newspaper column is the bread and butter of many journalists. While it may seem straightforward, there are a lot of important things to remember when producing a column that isnt all just about the writing itself. Maintaining journalistic integrity requires the ability to present balanced, bias-free, objective, and fair reporting. Being a columnist carries the responsibility of being supportive of your sources, getting the facts straight, and not embroiling yourself in conflicts of interest. Naturally, all of these challenges are relished by a good columnist and if youre a keen writer plus a lover of communication, then being a columnist may be just the right career for you. Related Articles Create a Personalized Time Magazine Person of the Year Cover Icon Steps Edit Write a Press Release Create an Advertisement Sample Newspaper Column Write Articles Featured Articles Knit the Purl Stitch Make a Movie Turn a Girl Friend Into a Girlfriend Practice Body Mindfulness Meditation Sample Newspaper Article About Event Meet a Community Member Meet John, a semiretired geek and wanderer who has been a member of wikiHow for over 6 Writing Your Newspaper Column years. He spends most of his time on wikiHow reading the articles, but occasionally he writes some himself. Many of the 38 articles hes started have been Know how to write and communicate well. You will need a good understanding of using 1 the English language and not just grammatically. Its important to be comfortable with using featured. His proudest achievement is having published How to Plot the Mandelbrot Set By the language to convey emotions, to persuade, to engender trust, to enlighten people, to Hand. clarify issues, and to make what you write interesting. Learn how to write the "inverted pyramid" style so that the reader gets the point straight up and then dives into the Join The Community supporting story. Moreover, be comfortable with communicating with others as youll need to spend a lot of time interviewing other people and knowing how to put people at their ease will be of great benefit to you. - collapse Things to Do Read your favorite columnists work with a critical eye. What about their writing makes it so appealing, so useful to the reader, and so popular that readers keep Write an Article coming back for more? Are there aspects of their writing style that you feel you could Edit this Articlehttp://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Newspaper-Column[1/13/2013 10:16:34 AM]
  • 2. 8 Tips on How to Write a Newspaper Column - wikiHow develop within your own writing? Be inspired by existing columnists to help you to Request a New Article bring out your own talents. Answer a Request Login for more! Places to Visit + expand Know the basics expected behind a column. Columns are meant to provide enough 2 information for a reader without drawing them in to too much reading. On average, a short article for a column will be about 500 words or less, while few columns go beyond 1200 words. Brevity and getting to the point quickly are skills that you need to hone to be a good columnist. It is important to check with the specific paper youre writing for, especially when Follow Us On... youre freelance writing and youre not aware of each papers requirements. Most of them will be able to clarify the word limits, and any other requirements such as format, delivery times, etc. upon asking. Get used to whittling down your initial drafts; in time, this will become much easier to do as you see how to shorten sentences and see ways to get to the point without belaboring it. Bear in mind that once it has been said, the reader has read it, and there is no need to repeat it again unless it really does add to the emphasis that particular story requires. If possible, write in Associated Press format. Journalisms punctuation is very different from your normal English formatting. Alternatively, ask the paper what format theyre following and study it intently to conform with it. This is one hurdle you can easily surmount with a little studying. Be prepared to thoroughly analyze the topics you write about. You will also need to 3 have top rate analytical skills and a willingness to present both sides of a story (or more if needed) rather than simply remaining captured by your own perspective of an issue. Good journalism is objective and doesnt seek to take sides (leave your opinions for the editorial section) but it also offers balance to ensure that not only one side of the story is presented. Put your devils advocate glasses on when examining any issues and see how you fare viewing situations from all sides! Provide a solution, dont just raise an issue. Have the conviction to suggest a solution or a range of them. Columns that criticize certain issues but offer no solutions are pointless because readers want to gain insight and answers from the column. Provide at least a riveting conclusion with one suggested solution. Find interesting topics or angles to draw in the reader. Even if you have the freedom to 4 write a column of your choosing, you are still reined in by having to provide what people want to read. Be conscious of what is fashionable, topical, current, and likely to interest readers. It isnt always the sensational stories either; anything can be made interesting with the right angle and careful writing. Most columnists find themselves being asked by their editors to write on specified topics. In this case, you need to find the interest hook in the topic, even if you arent particularly enjoying it yourself! When you feel stuck and youre not particularly fond of the topic, focus more on getting your writing to come across well and to humanize a story that might otherwise be bland, boring, or even distasteful if it werent for the expert way in which you write it. Then, try to distance yourself and read it as a reader – did you succeed in making the column interesting? Put accuracy at the top of your list. Be prepared to do research and to learn as much as 5 you can while preparing it, and draw heavily on speaking to experts in that field so that you get your information correct prior to writing it up. Remember that it is writing, "curiosity", and "communicating" that form your skills, expertise and passion, not necessarily the topic (indeed, rarely will the topic be in your field of expertise!). Nobody expects you to know the minutiae of cardboard box production but the reader does expect you to report the experts explanation of the process with total accuracy. Realize that there will be times when you will be under pressure to get a column prepared in time for printing that day. This doesnt mean tossing in sloppily analyzed, unsubstantiated information. If you dont have the facts straight or cleared, if you dont have the missing piece that draws all the threads together, then dont publish until you do. You may have to produce a shorter story focused only on those facts you are certain are accurate and then come back to it when you have the entire facts clarified; waiting is far better than having to retract your story, take a huge dent to your reputation and reliability, and then feel your journalistic integrity questioned from that point on. The more specific (niche) a topic is, the more likely it is that you can trip up if you arent careful about accuracy. Readers who do know will quickly point out errors, so always double and triple check all of the specific facts that youre writing about. Be aware that people, companies, PR agencies, promoters, agents, etc., have theirhttp://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Newspaper-Column[1/13/2013 10:16:34 AM]
  • 3. 8 Tips on How to Write a Newspaper Column - wikiHow own agenda and points of view to put across. Treat them with respect but always seek the balance and recognize the hype. Report on them fairly rather than accepting their angle without question. Keep good records of your interactions with sources who are used within your stories. Emails are very useful in this respect, and always keep written or taped notes (always seek permission from the person youre interviewing to tape them). Especially when a column is controversial or challenging, have your information sources watertight and accessible to back you up. Researching the facts can be done in a local library, in your organizations own library, or online via journal/paper/publication article compilers, etc. Many well- equipped publishers will have access to vast online research sources, so make use of them and if you dont know how to, ask for immediate training as it doesnt take long to learn how. Also stay up-to-date with news feeds, new articles, and technological innovations/state-of-the-art practices in your fields of interest, to be sure that youre up-to-date generally. Avoid conflicts of interest. Sometimes a columnist may write about someone they have 6 close ties to, or something theyre affiliated with or have a connection to, such as a company in which the columnist is a shareholder, or an organization that the columnist is a frequent customer of, etc. In any case where there is a real or even a perceived conflict of interest, either dont write the story, or make it extremely clear that you have a link of some sort. Be totally aware of the newspapers policies with regard to gifts and the fine line between been sent items for "testing" and being sent items as "gifts". Most importantly, remember that your journalistic integrity rests on readers knowing that youve been open with them and that youre not trying to fool them or hide anything from them. Think of it like this: "How would my readers feel if they found out that I had a connection with this story but didnt reveal it?" And if youre in doubt, always talk to fellow journalists and your editors, who will be able to help you reach an objective decision. For example, say you write about the state of disposable diapers and you want to present a side of the story that argues that these are not filling up the landfill anymore because a new brand claims that their diapers biodegrade within a month. However, youre also a new mom and the company that makes these diapers just sent you 50 packs to get you through the next year on the grounds of "testing them". Make it clear that Company X sent you these diapers to try and also distance yourself by doing things to balance the story, such as testing other diapers, getting diaper landfill statistics, and getting information from other companies on how long it takes for their diapers to break down. Make it clear who the sources are in your stories. When writing a newspaper column, 7 nobody wants to read a tennis match of "he said, she said". Be clear as to whom youre speaking about, including their expertise to speak to the matter. For example, "Expert psychiatrist Ray Bawdlin said", "Mother of two Rachel Anwin said", "Farmer of 25 years Gretel Bobo said", and so forth. By announcing to the reader the reason why the person youre quoting has authority to speak on the matter, the reader is immediately able to assess the reliability or trustworthiness of that persons statement. Equally, there will be times when you need to protect a source. In this case, someone will give you the information but theyll wish to remain anonymous. In this case, you will have to explain to the reader that the source wanted to remain anonymous "to protect their job/position/family, etc." but also persuade the reader that its reliable. And then, you will also need to be prepared to keep protecting that source. Use original writing. Plagiarizing is a sad indictment for a person who writes for a living. If 8 you dont feel you can produce what needs to be produced because of time pressures, disinterest in the topic, other pressing matters, etc., then be honest with your editors and ask for a different topic or take that break you need to pull yourself together. Plagiarizing is never the answer and it will out, eventually, no matter how cleverly you think youre covering your tracks. Its too easy to discover plagiarism with current technology, and the keen eyes of many readers poring over lots of work both in printed and online form. Resist the urge, and do things that restore your originality if youre beginning to feel jaded or over- pressured. Moreover, see being original as your mark or voice. If you develop your own distinctive writing style (something you should be striving for at all times), then plagiarism wont enter your head because you will know innately that only your own voice can be used in the column for it to be an effective piece. If the temptation does arise, ask yourself this simple question: "How would I feel if someone pinched my work after all the effort Id put into it?"http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Newspaper-Column[1/13/2013 10:16:34 AM]
  • 4. 8 Tips on How to Write a Newspaper Column - wikiHow Acknowledge sources. As well as your primary sources, be sure to acknowledge all secondary sources from books, other papers, magazines, etc. and cite them clearly. Also be aware of the restrictions on how much youre able to quote before youre breaching copyright. This varies across different jurisdictions. Tips Edit Every writer has a unique style. Do not try to copy the style of any writer. You should define your own unique style. If youre freelancing, youll need to get into the swing of finding papers to write columns for. In this case, the following is suggested: Do your research; come up with a list of newspapers youre interested in working with. Contact those papers and ask if they would be willing to print your article, or are looking for other articles on topics you might be able to write. Most first contacts are never made when sent through e-mail or fax. Editors get many faxes and e-mails and most will disregard the ones from people they do not know. Prepare a cover letter and a sample of your writing. Send this letter and sample of writing to editor for first contact via snail mail (unless otherwise requested by the editor). Be prepared for rejection. You may try to get into 100 papers and not get accepted by one, but its also possible the first one may be your jackpot. In all, rejection is a very common part of writing. If you dont get accepted, dont give up. Keep on writing! Think outside the square when looking for unique angles to stories – your love of words should actually be a great help in enabling you to think laterally, so use this skill to your advantage! Becoming a columnist is something you can learn to do on amateur paper productions at school, for a club or association, or even just for fun making a newspaper for your family and friends to begin with. And if you want to extend your abilities, you can start sending your efforts in to real newspapers to see if they will print your work (see above). Warnings Edit There is a difference between stating an opinion and stating something that is offensive or untrue. Be aware that your readers will expect serious, researched work and they dont want to read abuse. Indeed, if you get a reputation for being nasty in your columns, youll find it harder and harder to get good contacts and your readers wont have any qualms in tripping you up when you err and in taking a bite out of you when you irritate them. Remember your defamation laws. If you dont know them, learn them straight away to avoid possible legal repercussions! Avoid turning into a propaganda tool. A journalist shouldnt push agendas on professional time; as a professional, remain objective and balanced, prepared to communicate the whole story, and not just the part of it that pleases you. This means using multiple sources, providing evidence for the facts that you state, and directly attributing sources where they are speaking openly. Your readers are smart; often smarter than you. Remember that they will remember things and spot inconsistencies, bad grammar, flaws in your line of thinking, and lies. Dont deal in any of these poor forms of journalism and your readers will appreciate your good reporting. Things Youll Need Edit Writing tools such as computer Research sources Communication skillshttp://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Newspaper-Column[1/13/2013 10:16:34 AM]
  • 5. 8 Tips on How to Write a Newspaper Column - wikiHow Related wikiHows Edit How to Provide a Writing Sample How to Write a Column How to Write a Newspaper How to Write a Christmas Newsletter How to Distribute a News Story for Maximum Media Exposure How to Create a Professional Looking Newsletter How to Design an Effective Newspaper/newsletter Page How to Be a Reporter How to Obtain a Magazine Barcode How to Read the News on Your Favorite News Website How to Write a Column for a School Newspaper Article Info Categories: Featured Articles | Magazines and News | Publishing Featured Article Recent edits by: Stephen, ElizabethD, WikiRicardo In other languages Español: Como escribir una columna para diario http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Newspaper-Column like http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wikihow.com%2FWrite-a-Newspaper-Column AVr-553o Share this Article: Like 104 Discuss Print Email Edit Send fan mail to authors Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 80,271 times. Was this article accurate? Yes No Search the how to manual that you can edit Home Explore Categories About wikiHow Arts and Entertainment Cars and Other Vehicles Computers and Electronics Education and Communications Terms of Use Family Life Finance and Business Food and Entertaining Health Hobbies and Crafts Holidays and Traditions Home and Garden Other RSS Personal Care and Style Pets and Animals Philosophy and Religion Relationships Site map Sports and Fitness Travel wikiHow Work World Youth All text shared under a Powered by Mediawiki. Creative Commons License .http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Newspaper-Column[1/13/2013 10:16:34 AM]

×