A Necessary Characteristic for Journalists: Self-Confidence
“Reporters indulge in tennis-ball writing and legal jargon because they don’t quite trust themselves to tell in a straightforward way what’s going on. By sticking to the legal terms, they play it safe” (Cappon 34).
A common quality seems to be popping up again and again that is necessary for journalists: self-confidence. Qualifiers aren’t allowed, because it makes the story seem less credible. Journalists must weave enough of their own voice into their articles as well as quotes. They must use strong verbs. They must be assertive and out-going enough to interview and talk to people they have never met before. And now, they need to be confident enough to explain complicated jargons in everyday, easy to understand language.
It makes sense that a reporter needs to be self-confident, after all, they are supposed to be the authority. Yet, at the same time, I can also understand why a reporter would hide behind jargon. Chances are reporters are not experts in the law field. Unless they’ve been reporting court cases for years, they probably don’t know much more about it than the average person.
However, as Cappon points out, it is important for them to simplify it. If they don’t write it in an understandable manner, no one will read it, so why even bother writing it at all? Maybe in this case, the best policy would be to get quotes about the case. Instead of relying on one’s own limited knowledge, the reporter could call a lawyer and ask them to explain what the jargon really means. Regardless, reporters need to be sure about what they write, because if they’re not, it’s going to be very obvious to everyone that reads their article that they’re not sure what they’re talking about.
As for articles that have leads that begin with "when," I would say that almost none of them do. Usually the "when" is included within the lead, but it almost never starts it.
Read more on Cappon’s Chapter 3.