Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

  1. 1. lcome to the world ofurnalism, whereporters have beengging dirt, raking muck,king headlines andadlines for centuriesw. It’s a history full ofbloid trash, of slimynsationalists, ofrunkards, deadbeats andmmers” (as a Harvardiversity president oncescribed reporters).But it’s a history full ofroes, too: men andmen risking their livestell stories of war andagedy, riskingprisonment to defendee speech. And as youn see here, reports havecome beloved charactersp culture, too, turning upmovies, comics and TVows as if guided by ancult hand.Every culture seekseffective ways to spreadnew information and gossip.In ancient times, news waswritten on clay tablets. InCaesar’s age, Romans readnewsletters compiled bycorrespondents andhandwritten by slaves.Wandering minstrels spreadnews (and the plague) in theMiddle Ages. Them cameink on paper. Voices onairwaves. Newsreels, Websites, And 24-hour cablenews networks.Thus when scholarsanalyze the rich history ofjournalism, some view it interms of technologicalprogress—for example, thedramatic impact of bigger,faster printing presses.Others see journalism asa specialized form literaryexpression, one that’sconstantly evolving,reflecting and shaping itsculture.Others see it as aninspiring quest for freespeech, an endless powerstruggle between Authority(trying to controlinformation) and the People(trying to learn the truth).Which brings to mind thewords of A.J. Liefling:“Freedom of the press isguaranteed only to htosewho own one.”In the pages ahead, we’lltake a quick tour of 600years of journalism history,from hieroglyphics tohypertext: the media, themessage and the politics.Technical advances andbrilliant ideas forged a newstyle of journalism. It was acentury of change, andnewspapers changeddramatically. The typinewspaper of 1800 waundisciplined mishmalegislative proceedinglong-winded essays asecondhand gossip. B1900, a new breed oftor had emerged. Jourhad become big businReporting was becomdisciplined craft. Andnewspapers were becmore entertaining andessential than ever, wmost of the features wexpect today: Snappyheadlines, Ads, ComicSports pages. And an“inverted pyramid” stywriting that made storitighter and newsier.Radio and televisionbrought an end tonewspapers’ mediamonopoly. Why? Wellyourself: Which did yoBEYOND BREAKING NEWSInside ReportingTim Harrower6
  2. 2. Beyond breaking news• The world of features• Generating story ideas• Feature style• Feature story structures• Writing profiles• Enterprise projects (continued)
  3. 3. Beyond breaking news(continued)Investigative reportingPackage planningShort-form alternativesWriting editorials and columnsWriting reviews
  4. 4. The world of features News stories focus ontimely, public events. Features are morepersonal, narrative. Include topics, treatments, stylesnot found in news.Personalizing the newswith stories
  5. 5. The world of features Personality profile Human-interest story Color story Backgrounder Trend storyPopular feature stories10 Reaction piece Flashback How-to Consumer guide Personal narrative
  6. 6. Generating story ideas“Hard” news, “soft” news Relative terms that describetopic and treatment of story.• Expect serious, timely events tobe written in inverted-pyramidstyle.• Items that are less urgent orsomber make up “soft” news.
  7. 7. Generating story ideasGreat stories are waiting discovery• Publication’s archives• Competitors• TV, magazines, newspapers,Web sites• News releases• Reader suggestions• Brainstorming
  8. 8. Generating story ideasIs it a good one? Where did it comefrom? Is it original? Did it surprise you? Does the idea havemovement? Is there a STORY there? Is there tension? Is it true? Do you like the story?
  9. 9. Generating story ideasTurn your idea into a story• See if it’s been done.• Focus your angle.• Talk to your editor.• Do your research.• Plan the package.• Write the story.
  10. 10. Feature styleSome stories require a livelier, looser, moreliterary voice Tom Wolfe dubbed it“New Journalism.”• Realistic dialogue.• Vivid reconstructionof scenes.• Viewed through theeyes of thecharacters.• Recording everydaydetails.
  11. 11. Feature styleSuccessful feature writers rely on literarytechniques• Syntax & phrasing• Voice & tense• Detail & description• Dramatic techniques
  12. 12. Feature styleSuccessful feature writers… Helpful tips• Write tightly.• Vary sentencestructure.• Match treatment totopic.• Don’t overdo.• Avoid 1st person.• Stay objective.• Learn shorthand oruse a tape recorder.• Remember editorshave strongopinions.• Read.
  13. 13. Feature story structuresStandard story structures• How long should thisstory be?• What key points do Ineed to make?• Think visually.• Think package.
  14. 14. Package planning Photocopy page 127. Summarize story idea in 25wordsor less. Answer questions readerswill ask.Using the package-planning form Specify photos orillustrations. Write headline/deck. Set staff, deadlines,lengths. Create rough layout.
  15. 15. Short-form alternatives Fast-facts box Bio box Checklist List Step-by-step guideTo reach readers, condense the data Quiz Factual index Diagram Quote collection Timeline
  16. 16. lcome to the world ofurnalism, whereporters have beengging dirt, rakingmuck, king headlinesand adlines for centuriesw. It’s a history full ofbloid trash, of slimynsationalists, ofrunkards, deadbeats andmmers” (as a Harvardiversity president oncescribed reporters).But it’s a history full ofroes, too: men andmen risking their livestell stories of war andagedy, riskingprisonment to defendee speech. And as youn see here, reports havecome beloved charactersp culture, too, turning upmovies, comics and TVows as if guided by ancult hand.Every culture seekseffective ways to spreadnew information and gossip.In ancient times, news waswritten on clay tablets. InCaesar’s age, Romans readnewsletters compiled bycorrespondents andhandwritten by slaves.Wandering minstrels spreadnews (and the plague) in theMiddle Ages. Them cameink on paper. Voices onairwaves. Newsreels, Websites, And 24-hour cablenews networks.Thus when scholarsanalyze the rich history ofjournalism, some view it interms of technologicalprogress—for example, thedramatic impact of bigger,faster printing presses.Others see journalism asa specialized form literaryexpression, one that’sconstantly evolving,reflecting and shaping itsculture.Others see it as aninspiring quest for freespeech, an endless powerstruggle between Authority(trying to controlinformation) and the People(trying to learn the truth).Which brings to mind thewords of A.J. Liefling:“Freedom of the press isguaranteed only to htosewho own one.”In the pages ahead, we’lltake a quick tour of 600years of journalism history,from hieroglyphics tohypertext: the media, themessage and the politics.Technical advances andbrilliant ideas forged a newstyle of journalism. It was acentury of change, andnewspapers changeddramatically. The typinewspaper of 1800 waundisciplined mishmalegislative proceedinglong-winded essays asecondhand gossip. B1900, a new breed oftor had emerged. Jourhad become big businReporting was becomdisciplined craft. Andnewspapers were becmore entertaining andessential than ever, wmost of the features wexpect today: Snappyheadlines, Ads, ComicSports pages. And an“inverted pyramid” stywriting that made storitighter and newsier.Radio and televisionbrought an end tonewspapers’ mediamonopoly. Why? Wellyourself: Which did yoBEYOND BREAKING NEWSInside ReportingTim Harrower6

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