NCMC Friday lecture I


I thought about publishing all my notes, but then I figured it would be better to publish the most relevant.

Wringing the Bad Writing Habits out of your Eager, but Inexperienced Staff

Pitfalls of Beginning Journalists:

I. In Journalism

  • Too few sources
  1. Google does not have all the answers–Talk to people who don’t want to talk
  • “Wrong” sources; PR titles sound like “right” sources, but are not
  • Making it hard for source to contact (editor)
  • Sloppy interviewing and note-taking style
  1. Check writer’s “sources” and “facts”. Check the source’s “facts” as well.
  • Not recognizing ideas
  • Procrastinating
  1. Make sure writers write the story (or, part of it) as soon as they’ve had the interview
  • Not enough info
  • Not getting source’s phone number for check backs
  • Not appreciating contacts
  • Making promises the writer cannot keep
  1. When a source wants to see the article after it’s written, this is a type of “prior review”. The answer should always be, “I would like to, but my editor says that showing you the story is not okay…”

The difference between the “source” and the “contact” is that the “source” is quoted and referenced in the story; a “contact” points you to the source.

II. In writing

  • Not staying objective (editorializing)
  • Inaccuracy
  • Bad grammar
  • Forgetting to attribute sources (anonymous quotes are bad)
  • Weak leads (dull, cliché, confusing, wrong)
  • Awkward quotes (direct and otherwise)
  • Long paragraphs
  • Stories too short
  • Written works void of AP style (journalistic style)
  • Committing “word fat”

Recommended books/reading:

More later!



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