Presentation on theme: "Newswriting Basics Journalism. Fact vs. Opinions Write one paragraph explaining each. What is an opinion? What is a fact? Is there a connection between."— Presentation transcript:
Newswriting Basics Journalism
Fact vs. Opinions Write one paragraph explaining each. What is an opinion? What is a fact? Is there a connection between fact and opinion? If so, what is it?
Fact vs. Opinions cont. What are/should opinions based on? Are all opinions equally valid? The first clear statement of relativism comes with the Sophist Protagoras, as quoted by Plato, "The way things appear to me, in that way they exist for me; and the way things appears to you, in that way they exist for you" (Theaetetus 152a). Thus, however I see things, that is actually true -- for me. If you see things differently, then that is true -- for you. There is no separate or objective truth apart from how each individual happens to see things. Consequently, Protagoras says that there is no such thing as falsehood.
So Where Do They Fit? “Good reporters respect the integrity of facts. When you select them carefully and arrange them skillfully, you can communicate without inserting your own opinion. For instance, this fact by itself seems trivial: Percentage of Americans who can name two freedoms granted by the First Amendment: 28. But now add this fact: Percentage of Americans who can name two members of “The Simpsons” cartoon family: 52. Together these two facts lead to a logical, unspoken conclusion – that Americans pay more attention to TV characters than to government. True? Arguably. But it’s a good example of how journalism should work: The facts tell the story, and readers draw their own conclusions.”
Two Problems 1.The opinion of the writer was stated, even though it is left up to debate. 2.The way the facts are presented leads to a more valid or less valid opinion. Or are these problems?
Free Write So do opinions belong? If so where? What would happen if no opinions were in stories?
Where Opinions Belong News Story – Straight facts Political News Story – Allow for creativity, but opinions should only come from quotes. (Careful! How a story is written, what quotes are included, still can be opinionated.) Sports Stories – Allow for much more creativity in description. Opinion Columns – Must be based on facts, but are clearly set up to support an opinion. Reviews – Critics are expected to voice their opinion on a subject. No Opinion Facts support Opinion
The Five W’s and one H Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How?
The Who Readers love stories that focus on people. Always look for the “who”. Who’s involved? Who’s affected? Who’s going to benefit? Who’s going to lose?
The What The “what” gives substance to the story. The “who” gives humanity and personality. All “what” and no “who” makes articles a boring read.
The When Timeliness is important. Readers depend on you to tell them when events happened, when events will happen, and how long they will last.
The Where The closer the event, the more relevant it is to the reader. The more complex the topic, the more detailed you will have to be. –Maps Where will they build the new airport? –Diagrams Where will they expand the gym? –Photo Where did they find the body?
The Why Good journalism reports the news. Great journalism explains the news. –Why is this law necessary? –Why will it cost so much? –Why should we care?
The How Good reporters are good teachers. They know how to explain thins in a clear concise way. –How will this work? –How did the prisoner escape? –How do I decorate my dog for Halloween? For short stories and news briefs the “how” is often left out to save space, but readers love a good “how-to” story, especially in the features section.
Leads Definition – The first sentence or paragraph of a news story. A lead in a newspaper is a combination of a thesis statement, attention catcher and introduction. “Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, sink your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tag line.” – Paul O’Neil “If you don’t hit a newspaper reader between the eyes with your first sentence, there is no need of writing a second one.” – Arthur Brisbane
Types of Leads You can lead with any of the five W’s, but even those are not the only way. Buried Leads – Avoid at all costs. This is worse than writing an essay without a thesis statement. Read example on handout.
Writing Leads Find five articles. Rewrite the leads.
Homework Article for each W (and H). Rewrite five leads.
Review Leads Be concise Be accurate Remember the day Don’t name names Use strong verbs Ask “Why should I care?” Sell the story Move attributions to the end of the sentence.
After the Lead… The Nutshell Graf –A paragraph that condenses the story idea into a nutshell. –A nutshell graf should be used after a catchy lead in order to tell the reader what the story is about. –But what if the lead summarizes the story? Nutshell grafs can also: Supplement any of the five W’s missing from the lead. Provide background to the action described in the lead. Add a supporting quote
Two ways to organize the same story Version One is more of a traditional straight-forward news story that focuses on “what”. Version Two is more of a feature story that focuses on “who”. –Which do you prefer?
Story Structures 1.Inverted Pyramid 2.Martini Glass 3.Kabob
The Inverted Pyramid Best for: News briefs, stories about breaking news. Not recommended for: Anything else. How it works: Summarize the key facts in a concise lead. Then organize the story as logically as possible, arranging paragraphs in descending order of importance. End the story when you run out of details.
Inverted Pyramid cont. Lead – Most important facts Next most important facts Additional facts A few more Again
The Martini Glass Also known as: The hourglass Best for: Crimes, disasters, or any story where chronology is imported. How it works: Begin with inverted pyramid, then shift into chronological narrative. (Signal change with phrase such as, “Police gave this account of what happened.”) End the story with a kicker (a surprise ending or strong closing statement).
The Martini Glass cont. Inverted Pyramid Structure Kicker Chronology of Events
The kabob Also known as: The Wall Street Journal formula or cycle. Best for: Stories on trends or events where you want to show how actual people are affected or involved. How it works: The story begins with an anecdote about a specific person. Then it broadens into a general discussion of the topic. It ends by returning to that specific person again.
The kabob cont. Anecdote Nutshell Graf Details More Details Anecdote
The kabob cont. Some people also refer to the kabob as a circle. Opening Anecdote Nutshell Graf Details Closing Anecdote
Start with… Briefs are stories that are no longer than 5 or 6 paragraphs. Brites are features that are no longer than 5 or 6 paragraphs.
Moving between grafs Keep paragraphs short. Short, punchy paragraphs are much easier for readers to scan and absorb. Really. Some reporters have trained themselves to write just one sentence per paragraph. Think of it this way: in a thin newspaper column thick paragraphs (like the one you are reading now) get dense and daunting as long wordy sentences stack up, giving your eyes no place to rest. Deep paragraphs may actually discourage readers from sticking with your story. So you should also try to follow these next helpful hints…
Moving between grafs cont. Keep paragraphs short. Write one idea per paragraph. (Standard essay rules of 3 to 5 sentences per paragraph no longer apply.) Add transitions. –However –In addition –Finally –Meanwhile –Previously –On a related issue
Alternatives to Boring Text Bullets Sidebars Subheads Other story telling alternatives
Bullets Start with a boldface phrase. Then change to normal text. Use parallel construction. Each bullet here is a tip that starts with a verb. Run at least three items. Otherwise it will look incomplete.
Sidebar A short feature written to accompany a longer story. They usually run in boxes beside or beneath the main story. They organize the complex information from the story. They can include photos, etc..
Alternatives to Boring Text cont. Subheads – Subheads break long stories into short accessible chunks. They can be inserted whenever there’s a shift in topic.
Other Storytelling Alternatives Break complex material into lists, quizzes, Q and A’s, timelines, chronologies, first person flashbacks diagrams, etc.
The Ending (The Kicker, The closer, The big Finish) A juicy quote A revealing anecdote An amazing fact A clever pun “You should hear it echo in your head when you put the paper down.” - Bruce Desilva
The Ending (The Kicker, The closer, The big Finish) Plan Ahead – Do not stop just because you are out of material. Possibly write the end right after the lead, then work on the middle. Do not end by summarizing! Avoid cute clichés – “That’s all folks!” or “And that’s the way it is…” End with a bang – Avoid ending with weak words or phrases, “… he said.” Instead, use the most powerful right there, at the end.
Rewriting “It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C.J. Cherryh Stories don’t always start bad, or end up good. The goal is to make them better at each step, and to take as many steps as you need.
Early Draft to Final Draft Rewrite the left hand side of the article. Leave the paragraphs in the same order, but revise it by shortening, lengthening, rewording and deleting.
5 Reasons to Delete 1.Passive Verbs – Start with the subject and use strong verbs. 2.Redundancy and repeating yourself “Currently president of the club.” “The game is scheduled for Friday night.” “The victims were burned in the flames.” Doublespeak – Grateful thanks, all-time record, totally destroyed, true facts, end result, very unique, personal opinion, serious danger, first time ever. “When in doubt, strike it out.” – Mark Twain
5 Reasons to Delete cont. 3.Long, long, long wordy sentences. 4.Jargon and journalese Suspects are apprehended and incarcerated. Or, utilize, finalize, structured. Negotiators yesterday, in an eleventh hour decision following marathon talks, hammered out an agreement on a key wage provision that they had earlier rejected.
5 Reasons to Delete cont. 5.Clichés – Beyond a shadow of a doubt, you should work 24/7 to avoid clichés like the plague. The close-knit community was shaken by the tragedy. Tempers flared over the laundry list of complaints. Skilled writers can still use clichés, but only carefully, and skillfully.
The Fog Index 1.Take a typical sample of your writing that is around 100 words. 2.Count the average number of words you use per sentence. 3.Count the total number of hard words (those with more than three syllables), not counting proper names. 4.Add the numbers from step 2 and 3. 5.Multiply the sum by 0.4.
Fog Index cont. The result is your Fog Index, the number of years of schooling a reader needs to understand what you’ve written. Most Americans read at a 9 th grade level, so experts say to aim for 7 th or 8 th.
Editing – Continual Before you write – Editors begin by assigning stories to specific reporters. They will also give input on scope, angles and packaging. While you write – Editors will read and edit your story long before the due date. After you write – Editors will edit the content (length) and will also send it to copy editors to fix grammar, punctuation, etc.. Editors may assign follow up stories also.
Which would you Print - Exercise Use your current knowledge, and precious discussion to decide which choice is appropriate for printing.
Strange but True What is Styrofoam? –A trademark of plastic foam, but it is never used to make cups. Heroin was once a trademark. Who is this figure? –Smokey Bear (Not Smokey the Bear)
Strange but True cont. “God” is never capitalized when swearing. Which of these should be capitalized? 1.dumpster 2.popsicle 3.mace 4.kitty litter 5.seeing eye dogs 6.frisbee They are all trademarked!
Strange but True cont. How many words are each of the following? –ping pong- pooh pooh –bon bon- ball point pen It is U.S. Navy, but it’s the French navy. Dr Pepper does not have a period after Dr. What is this animal? –Canada goose
AP Style AP Stylebooks are a good resource tool to use. The AP Stylebook will be the guide for this class. The handout lists some of the most common style issues.
More Resources Deadline Checklist - Whenever you write a story, run through this list. 66 Newswriting Tips – Keep this with you and refer to it often!
Homework List Articles for each W with rewritten lead. Early Draft to Final Draft rewrite. 100 word brief or brite with Fog Index. “Which would you print?” Exercise. Test Yourself Exercises 1-9.