October 4, 2005

Newswriting: AP Guide Chapters 5-7

Sometimes, I want to cry when I read the AP Guide to News Writing.

Seriously, it is only because it strips away the merit of all my other English classes: Journalese, seems to be the language of the English department; tone, and attributive verbs that may or may not be loaded are the platform for my writings.

I am slowly coming to realize the values of simplify and condense when it comes to newswriting. We can not use sensational verbs, when a better, more fitting verb is at hand. We can not use anything but said, because other words might imply emotions. We can not load the stories to slant them one way or the other.

Perhaps, feature writing will be more simple because it allows for flowery speech, breathing room....subjects that I will be holding my arms wide open to. Right now, it seems as though we need to hold a tight focus on condensing.

Posted by KatieAikins at October 4, 2005 4:17 PM

Katie, Andy LoNigro had a similar reaction.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 4, 2005 5:42 PM

Thank you for the direction, Dr. Jerz.

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 5, 2005 12:41 AM

Katie, you took the words out of my mouth. I love words, trying to find expressive and interesting words, playing around with adjectives and adverbs, but all of a sudden I can not do this. It is quite a shock to my natural style. From day one of this class I have been trying to eliminate wordiness. I have a chronic wordiness disease. For those of you who know me, I know that you are aware of this. If a paper assignment is 4 pages, I am lucky if my first draft is fifteen. Once I get on a roll there is no stopping me.

As far as the "said" thing, I also discussed this in my blog. When doing my first article, I originally tried to use as many words for "said" as I could, because I thought using "said" too often was repetitious and "bad."

Finally, like you I am use to writing literary essays. I love to write an argumentative essay. This may sound silly, but I get excited when I find a way to prove a personal opinion I have. In journalism I can not show my opinions. Instead I have to write, as though I am neutral on very issue. This is very difficult. For example with the Morgan Spurlock article, there are certain things that Spurlock did that bother me. But, when it came time to writing the article, I had to ignore my personal feelings. I would have much rather provided the reasons for my biased feelings, but that is not newswriting.

Posted by: Jenna O'Brocto at October 8, 2005 1:14 PM

Katie and Jenna,

For me news writing is easier. While I love writing editorial pieces and using bias-bearing descriptive words, it's easier to just state the facts.

As you said, Jenna, in regard to Morgan Spurlock, you had perspective to share- but would formulating your opinion and backing it up been easier or harder than telling the straight facts?

For me, it is much easier to just tell the story (with a purpose). Granted, there are stylistic points that take effort to notice and avoid, but when I wrote editorial pieces for my high school paper, I did twice the regular news research to assure that all my arguments were sound.

Posted by: David Denninger at October 10, 2005 1:38 PM

I agree with you David that it is easier just to provide the facts. When I write an essay it is more difficult than writing a news article in some ways. I get quotes and attend an event, and then I report on it. If I were use to this type of writing it would probably be very simple, but since I am familiar with essay writing, newswriting becomes difficult.

As far as the Spurlock issue, that is a hard question to answer. It was much easier just to report on what I saw and the quotes I received. But, if I had developed an article about my negative feelings towards Spurlock it would have been more work, but also more enjoyable for me to write.

Posted by: Jenna O'Brocto at October 11, 2005 10:48 AM

I totally agree. It is so hard to write in journalese as a senior after I have come close to perfecting my essay writing. It is so difficult also to just use the word "said” every time I read my articles over I want to mark out said and put in another more "flowery" word. One thing that has helped recently was chapter 8 in "The Elements of Journalism", in this chapter they discus how to incorporate storytelling into your news articles and new writing styles like the hour glass. That has helped a little bit. Though, yes, getting past this journalese "language barrier" is difficult.

Posted by: Ashley Welker at October 11, 2005 2:59 PM