Journalism Wrtinig Tips


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Some final tips before submitting your journalism stories.

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Journalism Wrtinig Tips

  1. 1. Journalism Writing Tips By Prof. Mark Grabowski ________________________________ Email: mark [at]
  2. 2. The Final Edit: 5 Things To Do Before Submitting Your Story
  3. 3. 1. Spell check your story. • It's simple and it's easy, but many young journalists forget to do it.
  4. 4. 2. Print out your story. • After you've edited it on your computer, print it out and look over it again. Read it out loud. Many times you'll catch mistakes on your hard copy that you miss on a computer screen. Having a hard copy is also good protection against a computer crash or file corruption.
  5. 5. 3. Underline all names and places. • For names, check the spellings again. Remember, many people's names have nontraditional spellings. Is it Mark or Marc? Cindy or Cyndi? Gregg or Greg? Did you include full names and qualifiers (i.e. Jon Smith, 44, of Howell; Byron James, police chief of Long Branch) on first reference? • If it's a place, is it spelled correctly? Are you sure the address is correct? Is it in correct AP format? Remember: in stories, states are not abbreviated the same way as when you're mailing a letter. For example, in AP Style, New Jersey is abbreviated as "N.J." - not "NJ".
  6. 6. 4. Circle all dates and numbers. • Double-check to make sure you provided the correct date. Use proper names of days (i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.) instead of "yesterday," "today" or "tomorrow." You don't know when the story will run, so using the latter terms could cause confusion. • Make sure your numbers are correct. Remember, it's okay to round off. If you arrived at your numbers through math (i.e. "The school budget will increase 22 percent this upcoming fiscal year."), double check that your calculated correctly.
  7. 7. 5. Re-examine every quote. • Compare it to your notes. Is it attributed to the correct person? Is it typed in your story correctly? Did you accidentally omit a "not" or "un" or some other word(s) that could entirely change its meaning?
  8. 8. Revising: 10 Dos and Don'ts
  9. 9. 1. DON’T use ( ) [ ] and … If you need parentheses or brackets to explain something, rewrite the sentence so that your story is clear without them. If you need an ellipsis in a quote to show that you have left out some words, then rethink the quote. Maybe you can paraphrase part of it and just quote the most important part.
  10. 10. 2. DON’T use rhetorical questions: Tell your reader what you have learned. Don’t ask the reader questions. Sometimes simply rephrasing solves the problem. – NOT: What happens when these offenses are no longer humorous quirks? – INSTEAD: When these offenses stop being funny, the housing office may let a student change roommates.
  11. 11. 3. DON’T read minds. Tell readers only what you know. – NOT: She feels that arguments can be solved… – INSTEAD: She said arguments can be solved.
  12. 12. 4. DON’T put your question or your interview in the story. – NOT: When asked about roommate swaps, she said they are rare. – INSTEAD: She said roommate swaps are rare.
  13. 13. 5. DON’T put your opinions or judgments in the story. Stick to facts. – NOT: In the end it was better for her to move. – INSTEAD: In the end, she moved.
  14. 14. 6. DON’T write factoids. These look like facts but have no real basis. – NOT: Many students are frustrated with their roommates. MANY? Do you have statistics? No…? – INSTEAD: Roommates can be a source of frustration. You DO have quotes to support that statement.
  15. 15. 7. DO write about people doing things, rather than about abstractions. – NOT: Beginning the process of requesting a change of roommates requires submitting the reason for the request to the housing office. – INSTEAD: To change roommates, students must submit the reason for the request to the housing office.
  16. 16. 8. DO re-read your work and cut out unneeded words. Be ruthless. – NOT: Students have many reasons as to why they wish to change roommates. – INSTEAD: Students change roommates for many reasons.
  17. 17. 9. DO say said. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s cheap. Use it again and again… Nobody will mind. Nobody will notice because said just disappears on the page. Try it at home! – NOT: stated or commented or went on to say… – NOT: explained, pointed out, noted, suggested, claimed, admitted or confessed … unless you really mean it.
  18. 18. 10. DON’T write generalities, introductions or conclusions. Write the facts and quotes that you gather in your reporting. Put the new, interesting information high in the story and then back it up with quotes. When you run out of facts, stop writing.