I was born to be a Journalist

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...the language of journalism:

  • The language of journalism is concrete and specific.
  • The language of journalism is active.
  • The language of journalism makes meaning early.
  • The language of journalism is democratic.
  • The language of journalism has a voice.
  • The language of journalism strives for clarity.
-Clark & Scanlan pg. 295

When I first read this assigned reading, the first thing that came to mind was something that my mom always says to me: "Jess, you talk like you're writing a book or something." And it's true. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm never dramatic, but that's beside the point. The point is--Clark and Scanlan mentioned that when journalists write, fires are "always raging..." so, in that respect, I guess I was made to be a journalist, because I tend to make mountains out of molehills. I'm not saying that journalists exaggerate the facts--they just spruce them up a bit. After all, that's what the language of journalism is all about, right?

The language of journalism is concrete and specific.Without the details, what kind of a new story would we have? A very weak one. The more specific we get, the more likely people will remember what we write. This is the old "show, don't tell" thing again. A good journalist should paint a pretty picture of words for his/her readers to get the message across.

The language of journalism is active. I'm pretty sure we've already gone over active and passive writing when we discussed the difference between an english essay and a journalism article. But anyway, this is so important in a good news story, because it makes you less wordy when you  just put the important words in--Noun verb. That's all you really need when you're not giving out all the sensory details in your articles.

The language of journalism makes meaning early. From the first paragraph of an article, readers should at least have a grasp of what they're getting into as they read your story. When you get down to the nitty-gritty and you can only write 4-500 words, making those words count is essential.

The language of journalism is democratic.  So this section basically tells us to Keep it simple stupid. Remember that not everyone might have the most amazing vocabulary. We aren't really "dumbing-down" our articles, we're just making sure that as many people as possible will be able to read and understand what we have to say.

The language of journalism has a voice. I felt like this section of the characteristics of the language of journalism was really more of a summary of the other criteria than anything else. But at the same time, I guess it's just reminding us that each journalist has their own writing style, even though we do have a ton of rules to remember and follow. Even so, we can still break one here and there and have a little fun.

The language of journalism strives for Clarity. I don't think they could emphasize this enough. The last thing any journalist wants is to confuse his/her reader. if that happens, the chances of them reading another of your articles (assuming you even get another assignment) go out the window.

So, in review, the language of journalism is a tricky one, but its worth the study, because if you can just master these few steps, I'm pretty sure you can master any writing style, because even though they might be "journalism specific," i'm pretty sure we could apply most of these rules to any form of writing.

2 Comments

Cody Naylor said:

I won't lie to you... this is an impressive blog! I completely agree with you though. Readers have to be excited about the news stories that they read and it is the journalist's job to excite them. How else will newspapers and magazines compete with the flashing, shiny, moving pictures of broadcast news?!

Jessie Krehlik said:

Exactly! Although there still are some really boring articles out there, I get so excited when I read one that really grabs my interest. When I was in high school there were two guys on my newspaper staff who were amazingly witty--I always got a good laugh out of their articles, even when they covered serious issues. This just goes to prove that journalists can still have fun even while getting the job done.

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