| || |
Always willing to talk newspapering
December 12, 2012 - Jim Smith
I had an interesting 45 minutes or so Tuesday morning speaking to the English composition class of instructor Joan Lemley at National College in Parkersburg.
Lemley had asked if I would hit the highlights of what we look for in news articles written by journalists, as her class is beginning to write essays in preparation for writing a thesis at the end of the course.
I will be the first to admit, I am not a classroom teacher, although 40 years of dealing with reporters might qualify me as a writing coach and certainly an experienced editor.
Clarity, context, continuity, common language, flow, answering readers' perceived questions when reading an article and general writing not to be understood but rather so as not to be misunderstood always take the top of my list of writing skills that need to be stressed.
Unlike most forms of written communication, newspaper articles are written in an inverted pyramid style where the general synopses is the lead paragraph and item of descending importance are in subsequent paragraphs, reinforcing the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how.
The Victorian era's use of flowery language and convoluted paragraph structure belong in the pre-American Civil War days, not in modern newspaper writing, which was seriously affected by the war and led to the inverted pyramid style of writing.
The students had several interesting questions about newspapers in general and The News and Sentinel specifically, which I hope I adequately answered.
I have to admit, I'm always happy to take about newspapering, which has been my life since 1970, and in detail about The News and Sentinel, warts and all.