Walking On Eggshells?

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"Reporters indulge in tennis-ball writing and legal jargon because they don't quite trust themselves to tell in a straightforward way what is going on" (Cappon 34).

"Another abused word in suspect. It's seldom a very good word to use in any case; if somebody is questioned or wanted for questioning, let those facts speak for themselves...It is ridiculous in crime stories, however, to refer to unknown but indubitable culprits as suspects. While nobody knows their names, they're the ones who have done it" (Cappon 34).

Touchy, touchy, touchy. For me it's a love-hate relationship. I love how direct and concrete newspaper writing has to be. I actually like editing (even though you probably wouldn't be able to tell with the many typos I make throughout my blogs), especially when it comes to trying to condense paragraphs or phrases. I think I picked this up because when I was younger, I had the bad habit of using "that" after every couple words. My teacher always made me go back and take out my overused "that"s to make my sentences shorter and more direct. This part about newswriting I love.

I think hate might be a little strong to express my opinion about the second part because it's more like an uncomfortable feeling. It seems like editing for a news story goes on and on forever. There are so many rules and guidlines to remember that it seems impossible to create a well written lead, much less story to go with it. Even Cappon mentioned in this chapter that the sentences edited as examples could probably be edited even further. Where does it end?

If I were to take the rules for newswriting and apply to papers I have written for other college classes, I would have much left to my papers. I would have so much fluff and extra stuff to take out and condense that I could have saved part of the rain forest had I written all my papers newswriting style (although they would all be way too short for the requirements). I find this amusing because I like the directness of news writing so much better than the fluff and stuff of essay writing.

Getting back to my quotes, one area where I see as a "walking on eggshells" zone is when it comes to legal issues. As we discussed before in class, you can't write "the robber was arrested", etc., because it assumes that the person is guilty and displays that assumption to the public even though a legal trial to determine so may not have been held yet. However, once I read Cappon's paragraph about how "suspect" isn't a good word to use as well, I think it would make the subject a little more difficult to write about. Yes, I realize that a reporter doesn't need to make it anymore obvious that someone committed a crime, but doesn't "suspect" save a reporter from accidently claiming someone a criminal? Maybe I feel this way just because I'm new at this and I would feel a little uncomfortable dancing around this touchy topic with my green newswriting skills.

I also related to Cappon's discussion about other legal and business topics that sometimes come off too complicated for a reader in the reporter's writing. I always hate when I try to read an article about a subject I feel is important and I can't understand what is going on because of all the jargon. However, I guess the uneasiness I talked about above still applies because a reporter doesn't want to alter and possibly create false information by trying to report news about a complicated subject in their own words.


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