Writing Better News Articles

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Being a journalist today is one thing, but being able to write successful, distinguished articles is another.

So what is the different between a mediocre journalist and an extraordinary one?

There's plenty of opinions suggesting what that is, but here's five tips that won't hurt on your path to being a successful journalist.

1. Focus your important information into the beginning of your article.
One thing you need to know as a journalist is your general audience is pressed for time. Therefore getting all the most important facts down first is key to keeping the audience interested and reading. The format using this style is the inverted pyramid technique and at the end you can summarize what you wanted to accomplish in the beginning.

2. Stay fresh
When your writing an article do you write almost the same way every time? If your pattern is becoming predictable, it's time to switch it up. Change your style a little and switch up the vocabulary. Find ideas and work to be creative with your articles.

3. Receive feedback
Another great way to improve is to get constructive feedback. Try finding a good writer, editor, or someone who reads a lot. When you get intelligent and honest feedback just listen and try to understand the criticism. Accepting it will help you improve and become a better writer in general.

4. Check and recheck
One basic rule of good journalism is to check and recheck those facts. Giving false facts can lead to trouble and an untrusting audience. Checking and rechecking also applies to grammatical and contextual aspects. If your a sloppy writer then your credibility will also become sloppy. Writers do make mistakes from time to time, but checking your work will save you more times than not.

5. Write what you love
I believe this is one of the most important things for a journalist. Simply put, you need to be passionate about what you write about. When you write about things that don't interest you, it shows in your writing. The article will then become dull, disengaging, and uninformed. Stay with what interests you and it will come out into your writing. When you find your voice as a journalist just let it shine.

These aren't the only tips you need to become the successful journalist I know you're striving for, but these were the 5 I thought were most important in my opinion. Nevertheless, these and other skills will surely help you on your way to being a great and outstanding journalist.

Photo Credit: designthinkingblog.com via Creative Commons


There Are No Breaks in Journalism

So everyone is excited for spring break, right?

Trips to the Bahamas, Panama City, Cancun, Orlando, Los Angeles or anywhere warm. No tests. No projects. No annoying roommates.

I know I am.

However, when studying to become a journalist, there is one main thing that a person has to realize: there are no 'spring breaks' in journalism. There are no breaks. Period.

News is always being made, locally, nationally, and internationally. Murders. Earthquakes. Car accidents. Winter weather.

The key to being a successful journalist is to stay in touch with the news, especially when going on vacation.

One way to do this is fairly simple: get a smartphone. Be it an iPhone, Blackberry or Android, these devices can keep you connected even while on vacation.

By giving you access to thousands of applications, smartphones can keep you logged in to your Twitter, Gmail and Facebook. They can also give you access to news sites like Fox News or the New York Times so you can catch up on the latest stories while on the go.

Another way to keep up on the news while on vacation is to watch the local news on television before you go to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning. Although you won't be updated on your local news, you will still be able to hear about major national and international events.

Another way to keep updated is if the hotel provides you with a newspaper, read it. Just like watching the news on telelvision it can keep you updated on major events throughout the country. And maybe you'll discover a fun new comic strip.

It's important to stay up to date with current events while on vacation, just incase we have one of those improptu BNR quizzes like we sometimes do. But make sure not to get too plugged into the media.

Otherwise, are you really on vacation?

Photo Credit: via Creative Commons


Learn How to Write an Effective Headline

What's the first thing that a reader sees when looking at a newspaper article or even a website? If you said the headline you would be correct. The headline is what can either make or break a story, depending on whether it catches the interest of the reader. Here are 7 tips on how to write an effective headline and not to have your headline end up on a list of worst headlines ever.

1.First off you need to understand the purpose of having a headline. It is to interest the reader enough to keep them reading further. The point is not to entertain them or to crack a funny pun. In certain occasions that is acceptable, but that should not be your goal.

2. Know your audience and target your headline specifically to them. Ex: "Conquer Your Smoking Habit Using this Simple Step" instead of "Stop Smoking Using this Simple Step"

3. Use active voice. By using active voice you will tap into the readers emotions making them want to read further. Ex: "Hitter Blasts Record Distance Homerun" instead of "Hitter Blasted Record Distance Homerun"

4. Summarize it all in one sentence. Ex: "Scientists grow human ear on back of mouse" instead of "Scientists conduct cell transplant experiments"

5. Possibly propose a question as a headline, but make sure the question is something your reader wants to know the answer to. Ex: "Is the Zune anybetter than the iPod?" instead of "Zune not much better than the iPod"

6. Use a list or bullent points to stress your main points. It will catch your readers attention more than just a paragraph. Ex: "Top 10 films of 2010" instead of "Great films released last year"

7. Lastly, do not capitalize the letter of every word in your headline. You should only capitalize the important words.

Hope these tips help you create headlines that will draw readers into your story.

Photo Credit: Via Creative Commons


Dare to Cross the Fine Line?

Relationships in the media business are key in any field. Without them, there would be little interviews, little sources, and frankly, stories would be monotonous and low-key.

In the sports world, athletes and coaches alike have a fine line with media. Whatever is said can be leaked, and sometimes, it can create a world of havoc.

Granted, the link between sports and fans are the media. Without media, fans can't follow what is going on with their team. What would life be like without the resources of ESPN?

Take what happened in the summer of 2006. At-the-time Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen didn't necessarily like each other. OK, scratch that, they hated the living hell out of one another, and neither were afraid to hide their emotions. Guillen went so far to throw a gay slur at Mariotti. Every media pundit reconsidered where the fine line was, and thanks to this situation, sportswriters now think twice about becoming the next blow-up between he/she and a coach/athlete.

Athletes have the ability, however, to bypass the media. Some athletes use Twitter to connect with fans. For example, Mississippi State basketball players say Twitter can be a great resource, but has its downfalls, too. Athletes want to say what they want, but the fine line can be crossed when dissing a teammate or a particular moment in the game. Ask Chad Ochocinco how that goes every time he loses.

Media has a major role. It also has a fine line. The tricky part is (depending how the relationship is) where to locate it and how not to cross it.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Creative Commons


5 Easy Tips to a Getting a Journalism Job

If you are nervous about getting a job in Journalism during this time of economic struggle, this blog will provide you with five simple tips on how to do so.

1. Prepare yourself in college
This is the time where you are learning, and if you make a mistake it is okay. Therefore learning everything you can about your future career is important, and asking questions is recommended. Getting involved in journalism is what editors are most interested in. Get involved with your school newspaper, Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, and other social mediums in order to get that experience.

2. Learn Marketable Skills
Learn these skills in college. They consist of creating layouts, making blogs, creating web pages, and dealing with digital photos and video. All easy skills that take a some practice.

3. Do your research
You are a reporter, so this should be easy! Do some research about the job you are applying for. This will not only prepare you for your interview, but will impress the editor with how much you already know about the company.

4. Create a great resume
This will be your first impression on the editor. Make sure what you are showing them is something that will be impressive. There are many sites online that give ideas about ways to make a great resume.

5. Be versatile and flexible
Rarely does a journalist start at a job doing exactly what he or she wants to do. In order to do well when starting out at a new job you will need to make sure that you have many skills, so that you are able to do any kind of job your editor may have for you.

All these skills will help you get a job in journalism during this economic struggle. Like tip number one says: get started now so that you can prepare yourself for the job of your dreams.

Photo credit: geekz.co.ua


Women on the Rise

More Newsweek readers are going to be female. Why? Newsweek has hired their first female editor, Tina Brown.

Newsweek hopes to establish more popularity for female readers through this decision. Browns first issue also features a couple stories centered around females.

To attract female readers, Brown placed a popular female figure on the cover. Hilary Clinton stands proudly on the cover of Browns first issue.

Along with this first issue, the magazine will be hosting the second annual Women in the World Stories and Solutions summit. This is where female field leaders come together and speak to individuals about tyranny and cruelty.

Both of these activities are female related. By engaging women in the working environment, we can continue to build this side of involvement.

Since Brandweek is featuring their first female editor, it will encourage other women to set their mind on a goal and achieve it. Hopefully by this acceptance into the news industry, it will help men view women as working class individuals.
Photo Credit: Edmund Lee, Creativecommons.org


Location-based Networking

A recent article over at TechnologyReview.com discussed the growth that we will begin seeing in the "location-based" market over the next several years.

Location-based services such as Foursquare provide ways for people to interact online, seeing when people are at what location and a variety of random services depending on which app is used.

Many new developers of this technology are saying that the few services provided are not enough, however. They still feel that these social networking utilities are not social enough, and the question of "why use it?" constantly arises.

To combat this lack of features, new companies are trying new methods and combining different means of social interaction. One company is trying to create a location-based "game" of sorts that becomes highly competitive and focuses on people "conquering" each other's real-world territory.

Another company is focusing on providing its customers with the ability to spontaneously create "parties" that all friends can attend, rather than just informing others regarding the location they are at.

What does all this mean for journalists? There is a lot of potential for this new strive toward networking to make finding people or news more streamlined and easier.

Imagine being able to see "status updates" from every person within a couple of miles while you're looking for feature story ideas. If you then send out several requests to meet with those people who have newsworthy messages, your job has just become that much easier, or at least your choices have grown considerably.

At any rate, journalists will have to be on the cutting edge of this technology to ensure all the news that's worth reporting gets told.

Photo Credit: Bernard Goldbach via Creative Commons


The New Newsweek

On Monday, March 7, Newsweek hit newsstands with what they hoped would be a fresh new look.

Dirk Barnett, who came to Newsweek from Maxim magazine, is trying to take Newsweek in a new design direction.

The new design is focused more on photos. The old Newsweek lacked the visual appeal of many magazines, and therefore had a hard time attracting readers that are more visual readers.

Although the company had good intentions, the feedback about the new Newsweek has been almost brutal.

In an article published by Columbia Journalism Review, the quotes presented are all negative towards the new Newsweek design. The New York Post stated, "New Newsweek hits streets with a whimper."

Others have been even more harsh on the new design. An editor of The Awl, Choire Sicha, voiced his opinion by saying, "Mmm, it’s like soaking in a nice warm bath of a comfortable yesterday." He then goes on very bluntly, talking about how even the new Newsweek appears to be geared toward 40-some year olds in the doctor's waiting room.

Even though this criticism may be accurate, the new design is still a visual improvement from before. The magazine isn't going to recover overnight, and this is a big step in the right direction

To view some of the new pages of Newsweek click here.

Photo credit: FontShop via Flickr on Creative Commons


Apple is Number One

When it comes to marketing, there are certain companies that not only do it well, but they do it best. Apple, ranked No. 20 on the Interbrand Best Global Brands in 2009 and 17th in 2010, has always risen to the occasion when launching a new product. There's always a fascination with the company, when they speak, the world listens.

Last week, Apple unveiled the much awaited arrival of their second generation iPad, the iPad 2. The second generation will be available this Friday. It offers a completely new thinner design, faster processor and includes two new applications: iMovie and GarageBand. The selling point for this product has to be the price, $499.

In a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that Apple grabs more headlines than any other technology company. Apple is great at marketing because it uses a few key strategies.

1. They're everywhere - Apple plants its brand everywhere: posters, billboards, television commercials, etc... Their commercials are fun to watch and invite individuals to experience the Apple lifestyle while giving the impression that if you buy one, you're part of an exclusive group and people thrive on this idea.

2. They understand the importance of reviews - When people hear good reviews about products, they want to own it themselves. Apple embraces this concept and promotes the positive customer experience.

3. They focus on customer service - Apple is known for inviting the customer into the store and experiencing their products first hand. They have great customer service. You walk into the store and they let you play around with the devices and ask as many questions as you can fathom. They are very knowlegeable which gives the customers security in their choice. With the positive customer experience they have, it will leave them coming back for more.
Photo Credit: CreativeCommons, Robert Scoble.


  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP