Journalistic writingand “English class” writing Similarities and differences by Candace Perkins Bowen Center for Scholastic Journalism Kent State University
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.
No t a l l j o u r n a l is t ic wr it in g is t h e s a me n o r is a l l“E n g l is h c l a s s ” wr it in g t h e s a me , b u t c o n s id e r t h e s eg e n e r a l g u id e l in e s .Here are some differences… Journalistic writing has “English class” writing short, concise has longer, more sentences. complex sentences. JW has simple, ECW uses more multi- understandable words. syllable words. JW uses short ECW often has paragraphs, often one paragraphs of 100 or two sentences. words or more, including a topic sentence and its support.
Organization varies… Newswriting is Essays traditionally are traditionally arranged five paragraphs. in an inverted pyramid. The first paragraph is the introduction and thesis The first paragraph is statement. the lead -- with 5Ws Second, third and fourth and H. paragraphs develop the A summary lead is topic using Compare and contrast usually one sentence. Definition Additional paragraphs Classification, etc. are short and contain The final paragraph is the less and less important conclusion. information.
Organization Five-Paragraph Essay Inverted pyramid I n t r o /T h e s i s s ta te me nt Lead - B ody 5 Ws & H G e t s le s s C o n c lu s io n im p o r t a n t
And information-gatheringvaries, too… Media writing uses lots Essays often require of primary sources. material from Interviews with: Reading a particular Experts work Spokespersons Drawing on insight and Newsmakers information from previous readings or ‘People on the street’ lectures Secondary sources Applying personal include: experience Official records Reference materials Other media
But keep in mindwhy that’s the case: q Different audience q Different purpose
BEWARE OF PLAGIARISM!All writing needs attribution… Media writing works Essays use various attribution into the 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 citations This 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
Remember, news and featuresdon’t contain reporter opinion. While 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’s still the same between Englishclass writing and journalism? 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
Good writing is still goodwriting…But when you become journalists, you have to remember you have A different audience A different purpose And that means leaving some of your English class writing behind.