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Verbs of attribution

Here we explain the differences of some of the most common verbs of attribution.

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The verb ‘said’

Stick with the verb “said.” It’s simple and straightforward, and you won’t have to carry any extra baggage by adding to its meaning.

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Compiling a local stylebook

Every publication needs its own stylebook — a set of rules for referring to local items and guidelines for solving problems and questions that the AP Stylebook does not address.

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Clichés

One of the most dangerous traps a writer can fall into — especially a beginning writer — is the use of clichés. Clichés are overused expressions that have lost their freshness and vitality. Chances are, if you hear a new expression more than once among your friends, it has already reached the status of a […]

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Grammar terms

Just as any competent artisan knows the tools of his or her trade, the professional writer should know the basics of the English language. That includes knowing the terms of grammar (verbal, antecedent, etc.) as well as the rules. How is the writer to avoid a run-on sentence if he or she doesn’t know what […]

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Writing with verbs

Most good writing teachers stress the power and importance of verbs – often to skeptical students. Verbs are the engines of the language and have far more descriptive power than adjectives or adverbs. That’s where the skepticism comes in. Students interested in writing develop a belief that using good adjectives and adverbs will enhance their […]

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The passing of Arthur Miller

The passing of Arthur Miller this week is a sad moment for American letters. Miller devoted himself to his craft – writing plays. Although he wrote in other formats, writing drama meant for performance captured his mind and heart even as a teenager. As with all writers, however, he had doubts.

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Confidential sources, New York Times style

Two major changes have occurred since Bill Keller took over as executive editor. One is that an editor must know (and approve) the identity of the person to whom confidentiality is granted. The second is that readers should be told why the source as requested confidentiality. This is a good policy for openness, but it […]

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Students’ writing skills – worst than ever?

Lawrence Musgrove, an English prof at St. Xavier in Chicago, has stirred up a debate on InsideHigherEd.com with an article that says the empirical evidence to show that student writing skills have deteriorated doesn’t exist. Students are making about as many writing errors as they always have. But there are many who disagree or have […]

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Changing quotations

One of the continuing practical problems that arises often in the nation’s newsrooms is how to handle direct quotations.

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Today’s Word on Journalism

That quotation comes from Ted Pease’s Today’s Word on Journalism, a daily email that contains a quotation about some aspect of journalism.

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Redundancies in the air

The story was on the opening of the new Supreme Court term. The anchor was interviewing a law professor about the various cases the court would be hearing this year. At one point in the interview, the anchor — in response to something the prof had said — cut in with “Well, that’s the key […]

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The Iraq war is like . . . a comma

He didn’t offer any explanation for what he meant, and his detractors have pounced, claiming that he is trivializing a war that he began and that has cost the lives of more than 2,500 soldiers.

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Plagiarism

Students sometimes get mixed up about what constitutes plagiarism, but journalists should never let that happen. They should understand that plagiarism is one of the worst things they can do, and they should know how to avoid it.

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Math help for journalists

Many journalists say (sometimes jokingly, sometimes not) that they got into the profession because they would not have to deal with a lot of math. For most working reporters, however, that turns out not to be the case.

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Context in reporting

One of the criticisms of journalism is that reporters report events as events only, rather than giving them any context.

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Writing an obit

For generations, the journalism culture demanded that young reporters cut their teeth on obituary stories – “writing obits,” we would say. The thinking was that obituaries were easy to write and possibly not very interesting or important.

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Reporting religion

Religion and religious topics are not particularly welcomed in a newsroom. That is why years such as 2004, when religion is a big part of some of the year’s biggest stories (gay marriage, the presidential election, Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of Christ,” etc.) are tough for journalists. Why then are editors and news directors […]

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The ‘essentially accurate’ standard

Abraham Lincoln began the Gettysburg Address with the words, “About a century ago, the dudes that started it all . . .” Well, ok. Those weren’t exactly the words, but they are “essentially accurate.” That’s the standard that Detroit Free Press sportswriter Mitch Albom imposed upon himself in handling direct quotations for his column. Apparently, […]

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Web Journalism: Practice and Promise of a New Medium

Web Journalism: Practice and Promise of a New Medium explores the current practices and future possibilities of Web journalism and examines the characteristics of the Web that distinguish it from traditional media.

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