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Editing the Wire “The best training, the best resource that a gatekeeper on a small paper has is the wire." - Edward Seaton, 1998-99 president, ASNE "We.

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Presentation on theme: "Editing the Wire “The best training, the best resource that a gatekeeper on a small paper has is the wire." - Edward Seaton, 1998-99 president, ASNE "We."— Presentation transcript:

1 Editing the Wire “The best training, the best resource that a gatekeeper on a small paper has is the wire." - Edward Seaton, 1998-99 president, ASNE "We need to develop people who know how to edit the wires." - Susan Deans, editor, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C. "We're going snow blind reporting all the snowflakes... We need to achieve the proper context for these episodic stories on the wire." - Douglas Clifton, executive editor, The Miami Herald

2 Editing the Wire A culture is the stories we tell ourselves. This can be seen most powerfully in the use of wire service stories. So much of what a culture understands about the world is found through the efforts of the nation’s wire editors:  The gatekeepers on the events and life: Of the world outside our borders. And the world inside our borders.

3 The Associated Press The Associated Press, or AP, is a U.S. news agency. It is the world's oldest and largest. AP is a cooperative.  It is owned by its contributing newspapers and broadcasters.  Journalists with those member organizations contribute stories to AP and members use material written by those journalists.  Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the U.S. subscribe to AP. They pay a fee to use AP material.

4 The Associated Press The AP has 242 bureaus and serves 121 countries. As of 2005, AP's news is being used by:  1,700 newspapers  5,000 television and radio stations.

5 The Associated Press - History AP began in May 1848 when representatives of six competitive New York newspapers decided to join together to collect news from Europe. Up to that point, newspapers tried to scoop other newspapers by sending reporters out in rowboats to meet the ships as they arrived in the harbor. The first telegraph was developed and patented in the United States in 1837 by Samuel Morse. His Morse code quickly spread across the country in the next two decades.

6 The Associated Press - History The first transatlantic telegraph cable was successfully completed in 1866, allowing transatlantic telegraph communications for the first time. In 1899, AP used the wireless telegraph to cover the America's Cup yacht race off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, the first news test of the new telegraph. In 1914, AP introduced the Teletype, which transmitted directly to printers over telegraph wires. Eventually, it established a worldwide network of 60- word-per-minute Teletypes. In 1935, AP began WirePhoto, the world's first wire service for photographs.

7 Editing the Wire – Trimming Stories Before you begin at the bottom – recall pyramid style  Trim or brief long stories by carefully condensing text to retain key info.  That is, line and word edit. Find where you can say the same with fewer words.  Watch out – there are often first mentions of key points at end. Eliminate repetition and unnecessary attribution.

8 Editing the Wire – Trimming Stories Do away with clutter and jargon. Quotes – don’t cut good, telling quotes – look for the bland and inconsequential That is, look for:  Long quotes that can be reduced or paraphrased  Weak, say-nothing quotes  Redundancies and comments that add nothing to story

9 Editing the Wire – Trimming Stories Remove background – but don’t lose relevant context Watch out – don’t cut first references or move second references before the first ref. Comb back through your story to check  for first refs problems  if numbers still add up  to see how it flows  if there are any holes a reader would spot

10 Bloomberg Briefs Bloomberg, the financial news service, is know for its package of well constructed briefs that captures the world of economics and business that day. Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler told ASNE that with a story 1,000 to 2,500 words long, Bloomberg boils it down to a “very specific four-paragraph lead model (with) no sacrifice in news judgment, context or perspective.”

11 Bloomberg Briefs Winkler describes the structure of a Bloomberg brief as follows: 1. “The lead is clearly what and why (the theme). 2. The second paragraph must ratify the lead... provide the authority that establishes why you should be reading the story. 3. Typically, the second paragraph can be a quotation from a recognized authority, making it clear that this story is worth taking seriously. 4. The third paragraph is what’s at stake, why you should care, why readers should be interested. 5. And then the fourth paragraph is the typical laundry list of detail that establishes the factual basis for the story....”

12 Bloomberg Briefs “The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters & Editors” elaborates: 1. Determine the key piece(s) of information. Failing to include the most important facts in the theme, or including too many facts, makes it difficult to attract readers’ attention. 2. Include the “why” along with the “what.” Without providing the explanation as part of the theme, the quotation and details don’t help the story.

13 Bloomberg Briefs 3. Be sure the quotation backs up the theme. In some cases, quotes don’t help readers understand the story. In others, they conflict with the theme. 4. Select details that relate directly to the theme. 1. Good writing involves deciding not only whether information belongs in a story, but also where it belongs. 2. Details put in the wrong place can sidetrack readers rather than inform them. 5. Explain the news sufficiently before providing context. 1. To understand why a news event matters, readers must have a clear understanding of the event first. 2. Otherwise the context and perspective become meaningless.

14 Editing the Wire – Compiling Stories Have the relevant wire services’ phone numbers on hand. Pick one of the two or more stories as your basis to build on  Use that story’s structure and organization to merge other info from other stories Ensure you lose no relevant information

15 Editing the Wire – Compiling Stories Make sure names of people and things are consistent & fix inconsistencies by checking facts – DON’T ASSUME This can happen, too, with quotes Ensure you do not repeat information. Determine if there is info missing from all the stories that needs to be found through fact checking

16 Editing the Wire – Compiling Stories Recall where your readers reside.  Change words, idioms, locations, directions, currency, land areas, etc. For example: What does “lorry” mean? What does it mean “to table” something?

17 Editing the Wire – Compiling Stories Ensure that datelines do not lead to confusion about where a story was reported from.  Often, stories on the same subject will have different datelines. In that case, it is often prudent to remove datelines But be sure to make clear in story where it is being reported from

18 Editing the Wire – Crediting From staff and wire reports Compiled from Times wire services The Associated Press contributed to this story  Shirttail with staff or story from another wire

19 The Language of AP – Bulletin* BC-Obit-Shabazz,0032 BULLETIN NEW YORK (AP) — Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X,died Monday of burns from a fire allegedly set by her 12-year-old grandson. She was 61. MORE * Adapted from Editor’s Guide to AP News Services for Newspapers, By The Associated Press, Edited by Dave Tomlin and Marty Thompson

20 The Language of AP – Urgent BC-FBI Spy,0079 URGENT Former FBI agent gets 27 years for spying ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Former FBI agent Earl Pitts was sentenced Monday to 27 years in prison for spying for Moscow. Prosecutors had requested nearly 24 years. MORE

21 The Language of AP AP editors decide whether to file a Bulletin or an Urgent based on an estimate of a story’s news value.  A Bulletin story should almost always be worth Page One consideration. A Bulletin consists of no more than one or two paragraphs, followed by a notation promising that MORE will move quickly.

22 The Language of AP An Urgent can run up to three or four grafs, followed either by a MORE or a pickup line showing where the copy flows into a story already on the wire. Bulletins and Urgents typically are followed by several short adds, each of them slugged Urgent and running no more than about three or four grafs. The idea is to provide short bursts of information as quickly and in as well-crafted a form as possible.

23 The Language of AP Once all the basic new information available has moved, work begins immediately on a Writethru that combines the various pieces into one file. This provides a chance to sharpen the lead, if necessary, smooth out the copy and incorporate new information at the same time.

24 The Language of AP While the copy is moving, AP editors provide advisories about an upcoming Writethru:  What AP’s staffing plans are  Photo prospects  Likely timing of further leads  Information about relevant sidebars.

25 The Language of AP Once the initial Writethru is on the wire, further Writethrus will be filed as aggressively and frequently as the magnitude of the story warrants. On a major, fast-developing story like a jetliner crash, the number might well go to a dozen or more leads before the cycle is over, and in rare instances the number can go much higher.

26 Power of the Wire Editor * Note: The news editor usually depends largely on the wire digests for guidance. Therefore, the wire editor must look for stories that: 1. Present a provocative human-interest feature from abroad. 2. Illuminate a social trend. 3. Offer a clear analysis of a complicated issue. 4. Are of particular local interest that's connected in some way to the community. 5. Are inherently important (deemed to have a major impact on public affairs). 6. Are intrinsically compelling (touch a common chord). 7. Are especially well written and/or presented... or, in other words, good journalism. * Adapted from “Using Wire Copy,” www.asne.orgwww.asne.org


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