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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.

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Writing for Media - Writing

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