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Column-Writing Lecture. The heart of journalism may be news reporting, and the soul of journalism the editorial page, but the personality of journalism is the column. -- Sam Riley, Editor, The American Newspaper Columnist (1998). Straight News Report: no reference to “I”, unbiased, factual,

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Column writing lecture

Column-Writing Lecture

The heart of journalism may be news reporting, and the soul of journalism the editorial page, but the personality of journalism is the column.

-- Sam Riley, Editor, The American Newspaper Columnist (1998)

Column writing lecture

Straight news report
Straight News Report factual,

The United Kingdom is working on an unprecedented £1-billion annual international emergency aid and development package to rescue the ruined Zimbabwean economy, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

Feature article
Feature Article factual,

In the past five years, the UK has given over £20-billion in aid to sub-Saharan Africa, and is promising another £1-billion to a newly democratised Zimbabwe. But is this enough to save the Zimbabwean economy? Tracy Lee investigates how aid has been used by benefactors in the past.

Column factual,

When I read about the promised £1-billion for Zim, I just knew there was going to be trouble.

Content factual,

  • Collapse the division between the private and the public.

  • Localised content, i.e. national or regional – aimed at creating a sense of community.

  • Assume identification with the reader (the “we” used in column-writing is assumed)

Krisjan lemmer
Krisjan Lemmer factual,

The allegations against Mbulelo Goniwe are but a horsefly on the ass of the ANC, says Smuts Ngonyama. “Mistakes do happen,” he said this week, “but that does not mean that will change the image of the party. The party is too big to be affected by one person’s mistakes.” Apparently one person by the name of Jacob Zuma has been forgotten …

Structure factual,

  • Most literary form of media-writing & employs conventions such as innuendo, irony, metaphor, simile, persona …

  • Generally keeps the reader’s interest until the end, when it delivers a punchline. Uses a pyramid rather than an inverted pyramid structure.

  • Frequently follows the structure of a classical argument.

Strong openings
Strong openings factual,

Clive James: “Sex changes and organ transplants dominated the week. I gave the sex changes a miss, on the grounds that what’s right for some of us leaves others of us crossing and uncrossing our legs while whistling nervously. Organ transplants, however, are of vital interest to all.”

Clive james again
Clive James again factual,

Anyone who isn’t watching The Bell (BBC2) must be craxy. On the other hand, watching is no guarantee of staying sane.

Aa gill
AA Gill factual,

Mum, dad, sit down please, I've got something I need to tell you. I suppose I've known for some time. The signs were there: the inappropriate pleasure at being sent cut flowers, discovering that somehow, by a process of cultural osmosis, I'd absorbed all the lyrics to Annie Get Your Gun without ever seeing it, the fact that I'd rather loiter outside Russell & Bromley than Dixons.

Ben trovato
Ben Trovato factual,

Dear RobertDo you mind if I call you Robert? Obergruppenführer McBride sounds so formal.

Maureen isaacson
Maureen Isaacson factual,

We need a woman president who is equal to the task. Otherwise, give us a man who is capable of the same. Equality to task is all. So if the president insists on giving us a woman successor, she had better have balls.

Column writing lecture

Karen Blixem factual,

  • In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and murdered by:a. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi; b. Sitting Bull; c. Arnold Schwarzenegger; d. Muslim male extremists aged mostly between 17 and 40.

  • 2. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:a. Lost Norwegians; b. Elvis; c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women; d. Muslim male extremists aged mostly between 17 and 40.

    3. During the 1980s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:a. Ferdi Hartzenberg; b. The king of Sweden; c. The Boy Scouts; d. Muslim male extremists aged mostly between 17 and 40.

Satire factual,

  • Abrahams’ definition of satire: "the literary art of diminishing a subject by making it ridiculous and evoking towards it attitudes of amusement, contempt, indignation and scorn"

Persona factual,

Karen Blixem

Krisjan Lemmer

Ben Trovato

Karen blixem
Karen Blixem factual,

(Note from the deputy editor: Enough, Ms Bliksem, enough. The readers and I certainly do not want to know about your nocturnal, or diurnal, exploits. Bear in mind that some of us, as we read this, are eating breakfast.)

Krisjan lemmer1
Krisjan Lemmer factual,

Lemmer is pleased to report that the manne are no longer tittering prudishly over the South African Revenue Service Web address as reported last week ( However, in the interests of avoiding more scandalised uproar, Oom Krisjan has opted to remain tjoepstil about some other shockers, listed in the Independent’s “Indipedia”; gems such as Pen Island (, the Experts Exchange consultants hub (, and of course, which is either a car-hire firm in the Cook Islands, or something extremely cheap and nasty ...

Metaphor aa gill
Metaphor - AA Gill factual,

“Well, what would you do?” Miss India enquires, slightly more sharply than my mood requires. “What would you do if you were Miss World?”

And because my mind is already playing pass the parcel with her sari, I don’t really think before opening my mouth …

And again
… and again factual,

… a woman I had just met gave me an odd look & said hesitantly, “You wouldn’t by any chance like be a judge for Miss Iceland, would you?”

… I knew this was one of life’s exclamation marks.

Darrel bristow bovey
Darrel Bristow-Bovey factual,

A walking trademark by virtue of her Crayola box make-up and mascara that make her eyes look like two fields of sooty asparagus spears, she rose to cult status when she remarried …

Clive james
Clive James factual,

Fiction is life with the dull bits left out.

It’s only when they go wrong that machines remind you of how powerful they are.

Aa gill1
AA Gill factual,

Sport is how poor kids from poor countries pass through the eye of the needle to riches and recognition.