In Journalism, There's Nothing to Zing About

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Chapter Six

"If you have solid information logically marshaled, the readers will draw their own inferences, without the aid of zingers" (Cappon 55).

Here we can also refer to the rule we were given for comma usage: When in doubt, leave it out.  Will the reader be confused by a sentence's meaning if we drop phrases like "of course" or "surprisingly"?  When we include such leading terms, betraying our own opinions, we're losing our objectivity.  Without even delving too deeply into this issue, I can think of two ways including these "zingers" can go wrong.  Perhaps the event or description we are "zinging" will naturally lead the reader to the conclusion we were trying to draw.  For example, is it necessary to include the term "tragically" when talking about an accident in which five people died?  Probably not.  In this case, that would just be wasted space, which, in journalism, is a big no-no.  Though, things could go the other way as well.  Perhaps the reader doesn't find an event particularly "shocking" yet you've tossed in that word in hopes of generating a certain response.  Well, the only response the reader will have to that will be confusing.  The last thing we want to do is distract our reader from the heart of our article with unnecessary words.

Chapter Eight

"Quotes should pull lustily on the oars to help move the story along" (68).   

While quotes add authenticity to stories, they're of no use if they're simply in the article for the sake of being in the article.  If a quote just restates a fact already mentioned, it's done nothing but waste space and patience.  Sometimes quotes can introduce a new fact, and then the reporter can expand in his/her own words after, or vice versa, but, as always, repetition should be avoided.  Just as bad as redundant quotes are the random quotes that follow no train of thought.  It's important to keep the flow of the article uninterrupted, and include quotations smoothly.

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5 Comments

Jennifer Prex said:

In terms of quotes, it seems like it's similar to what we need to do when writing literary study papers. It's the same basic concept. You only need to say it once. If the quote says it, don't repeat it, and vice versa.

Derek Tickle said:

I liked your idea of how leaving out words can make a reader seem confused or not understand what your talking about. I personally do not think that leaving out the word "surprisingly" is going to make any difference, but what if it is a part of an emotional reaction? I think that it really depends on the story and setting, but your correct when you say, "When in doubt, leave it out!"

Angela Palumbo said:

Josie, you're right about the zingers. It just seems difficult because we are all so used to adding these words to express our own opinions or even as a kind of transition. In writing, the opinions can be left out but I still find myself using these words as mere transitions because I feel the work is too choppy otherwise.

I also struggle with making my article interesting and relatable without using such aides.

Josie Rush said:

Jen, I'm always thankful when someone can draw a parallel between journalism and literature, so thank-you.
Derek, you're right. It depends on the story and setting. In some profiles, for example, I don't know that certain "zingers" would be especially frowned upon.

Aja Hannah said:

News is news. News is short. News is concise and that is all it should be. Features, on the otherhand, can wow and add a little flavor. (As a creative writer, I have a preferance to these stories.)

I was thinking about how I use brevity in coversation though. If I need to tell a quick story or make a point, I try to go all fact and I like this better (especially when on the phone with someone or texting). I hate it when I get hung up on formalities or pleasantries.

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