Basic Principles of Writing | Journalistic Writing | Mass Communication | PPT
Feb. 6, 2021•0 likes•35 views
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2. • When writing, consider these points:
• ■ Positive
• ■ Active
• ■ Specific
• ■ Simple
• ■ Concise
• One job of a news story is to tell readers what has happened. People are generally not interested in what has
not happened. The only exceptions are those rare occasions when you need to highlight the negative, such as
when a country votes no in a referendum. Sentences should assert. Writer needs to express negatives in a
positive way. Thus instead of writing:
• Mikael Paznewski, who escaped from Barwon prison last week, has still not been apprehended.
• you should say
• Mikael Paznewski is still on the run after escaping from Barwon prison last week.
• Orwell maintains that writing should be in the active voice as much as possible. As you know, this is where the
subject performs the action, rather than having the action done to it. The latter is known as the passive voice.
Why should journalists avoid passive construction? Because active voice is clearer, more concise and tends to
mimic the natural human style of conversation. As the name suggests, it is more ‘active’.
• Here is an example of passive phrasing:
• It was deemed appropriate that a meeting of the businessmen would be held next week.
• Passive voice is a cunning way to say little in a lot of words. It also leaves questions unanswered in the reader’s
mind. In the example above, who considered it appropriate to hold the meeting? A good sub would pen
• The businessmen agreed to meet next week.
• Specific writing involves using common nouns and powerful verbs, and avoiding vague terms such as
• Story A
• Four aircraft passengers, the pilot and three people travelling in a car
were killed when a twin-engined Beechcraft Baron aircraft hit an electric
power line and crashed near Nadi airport this week.
• Story B
• Eight people died when an aircraft crashed near Nadi airport this week.
The pilot and four passengers died when their twin-engined Beechcraft
Baron hit a power line. The plane then crashed into a car on a road
near the airport, killing three more people.
• Clear writing is simple writing. The best writers in English have known that elegance is contained in simplicity. It
is also the best way to be understood. A full stop is one of the best ways to simplify a sentence. One idea per
sentence is the ideal for clear writing. Sentences should travel without excess baggage. If you choose the right
nouns and verbs, you seldom need adverbs and adjectives. If you use modifiers, make sure they contribute to
• Orwell’s advice to prefer the short word to the long. Instead of the bloated words in the left column below you
should employ those on the right.
• altercation fight
• apprehend catch
• A secret to writing well is choosing the best combination of words. The French phrase le mot juste summarizes
this idea — the right words in the right order. Concise writing avoids verbal clutter. You do this in two ways. The
first is selection of specific and concrete terms. The second is to know the value of words, so that each word
carries its own weight.
• posed a question asked
• made a contribution gave
• gained an insight realized
• tendered her resignation quit