Newswriting Style Chapter 4. “Just the facts, mam.” --Joe Friday, “Dragnet”. One of the basic principles of journalism is the separation of fact and opinion. Reporters and editors strive to keep their own opinions out of news stories.
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One of the basic principles of journalism is the separation of fact and opinion. Reporters and editors strive to keep their own opinions out of news stories.
Because readers and viewers have different educational levels, interests, etc., news writers– to communicate effectively with a mass audience– must learn to present information in a way that will allow almost everyone to read and understand it.
Beginners may find the newswriting style awkward at first; however, once it is mastered, students will find it can help them be more clear and concise in all writing.
Also use short sentences and short paragraphs—research has consistently found a strong correlation between readability and sentence length: The longer a sentence is, the more difficult it is to understand.
One survey found that 75 percent of readers were able to understand sentences containing an average of 20 words, but understanding dropped rapidly as the sentences became longer
But this doesn’t mean all sentences should be short. This would make the writing seem choppy. Have a mix of shorter and longer sentences.
Newswriters should write for the ear, listening to the natural rhythm, or flow, of the words and sentences they put on paper. Test your stories by reading them aloud to yourself or to a friend, or in a tape recorder then play them back.
Paragraphs should demonstrate relationships between ideas. It is a means of making complicated material clear. Like the words that form sentences, the sentences that form paragraphs should flow together, logically combining similar thoughts or ideas.
Avoid stereotypes that suggest older Americans are all lonely, inactive, unproductive, poor, passive, weak and sick.
Avoid the cumbersome and repetitive “he/she” references by working/writing around them. Example: “A postal carrier has his regular mail route.” Better: “A postal carrier has a regular mail route.” Or make plural: “Postal carriers have regular mail routes.”
Individuals with physical and mental disabilities as helpless, deficient or unable to contribute to society
Some Vietnam War veterans feel they’ve been stereotyped by the media as violent and unstable
Religious groups- Muslims, for example, as terrorists or inherently violent, or some Christian denominations as strange, different or extremist in their beliefs.
Reporters must be careful when covering members or different faiths. Be careful that you do not stereotype all members of a particular faith because of the actions of a branch of that faith—Islam, for example.