Mass communication writing


Frontline Media Writing Profile: Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer, Television News Reporter

What has Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer as tips for how you can make the best news stories?

  • Doing storytelling
  • You will never be fully prepared for writing in a breaking news situation and for the emotional toll it takes on you, but you can be prepared for the story. When the scanner went off in the newsroom, I will ask myself: how would I have this phone conversation with my parents, friends, of family member? What would they want to know and how would I describe the scene?
  • When you write television news, you’re essentially having a conversation with people who were not there.
  • You have to be a strong critical thinker. A reporter should never just accept a statement as face. Think more critically. A successful journalist, regardless of the platform, will always find better stories by being curious and inquisitive (= nieuwsgierig). That’s what separates the really good journalists form the others.

Media consumption and Production, All at Once

What must media professionals now be able to do?

  • Create and deliver content that is accurate
  • Create and deliver content that is relevant
  • Create and deliver content that is on point for fragmented
  • Create and deliver content that is for time-pressured audiences
As the digital transformation of media enters its third decade, news audiences have become both consumers and producers of a diverse array of media.

What is professional media writing?

It requires a highly developed skill set and the ability to produce pieces that are accurate, ethical, thorough, clear, and tailored to your audience’s media preferences.

What is professional writing strategy?

Professional writing strategy is driven by an understanding of your situation and audience. These may appear to be daunting challenges, but with diligence and focus, you can meet them.

What do it man: you must learn how to be both a skilled media producer and a savvy (= snuggere)media consumer?

For example: Everyday, you are consuming the online content. It is not only produced by official media organizations, but also by people lik you.

As a media producer, you might be working on a blog that you fill with posts on a given topic. Maybe you publish your own videos or post on Instagram to publicize news events or personal causes. Do you comment on blog posts and then tweet their links to them to your friends?

Media Responsibilities and Challenges

What does media organizations have in the United States?

In the United States, media organizations bear great power and responsibility for informing audiences, influencing publics, and preserving a democratic system of government. These are high public trusts, and they are upheld primarily through the writing that media professionals do.

What is required in the media sector?

Strong writing skills. In the media, skilled writing is a craft that not only is appreciated, but demanded by employers and audiences alike.

Give some examples of the media sector:

  • Journalism
  • PR
  • Advertising

What are the skills you need to have when media writing?

  • Creativity
  • Open thinking
  • Strong research skills

How does media professionals define themselves?

As professionals through their commitment to writing excellence. They value their own writing skills and those of their colleagues. They rely on each other’s expertise to work effectively under heavy deadline pressure. Employees who write poorly or place little value on good writing will not succeed.

Why would you love to write for the media?

You gain the opportunity to engage diverse audiences, to influence them, and to play a key role in the marketplace of ideas that we enjoy in a democratic society.

What is important when writing for the media? What is the media writers ultimate responsibility?

Equally important, the media serve as the watchdogs of government, providing information and ideas that citizens need in order to understand significant issues and make important decisions for themselves.

Understanding Yourself as a writer

What does Aristotle say about knowing yourself?

  • “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
  • Understanding your writing skills and perceptions of your own writing abilities are the keys to becoming a better writer and a media professional.
  • For example: the quality of writing instruction you received in grade school and high school, your family life, how much you read, how much you watch television, etc.

Understanding Yourself as a writer: Pro Strategy Connection: Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer’s Top Seven Tips for becoming a Skilled Journalist

What are some attributes that help you become a good writer?

  • Reporting
  • Observation
  • Interviewing
  • Writing
  • More on writing
  • Ethics
  • Credibility

What do you mean with reporting?

Never assume that you have the facts, or that you know something just because you heard or saw it. Ask the dumbest and most routine questions too. Get everything you can on record (where a source is willing to have information attributed to them).

What do you mean with observation?

Soak in everything you see and hear using all five of your senses so that you can describe the story for someone who is not there. (= Geniet van alles wat je ziet en hoort met alle vijf je zintuigen, zodat je het verhaal kunt beschrijven voor iemand die er niet is.)

What do you mean with interviewing?

Don’t rely only upon official sources. Speak with unofficial sources too. The people standing around a story scene may have seen something important, and you never know where that will lead. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

What do you mean with writing?

Writing is the essential skill in the news business. It is communication. Writing skills have deteriorated in recent years, which is even more reason to excel at it, because not enough people write well. In most broadcast markets, there is a good chance you will be writing everything you say on the air. (= Schrijven is de essentiële vaardigheid in de nieuwsindustrie. Het is communicatie. Schrijfvaardigheid is de afgelopen jaren verslechterd, wat nog meer reden is om uit te blinken, omdat niet genoeg mensen goed schrijven. In de meeste omroepmarkten is de kans groot dat je alles wat je zegt in de ether zult schrijven.)

What do you mean with more on writing?

Writing competent leads and stories is crucial, but the use of description takes it to the next level. Use vivid descriptions and metaphors to take the viewer to the scene of the story. Let the story breathe through the use of characters, descriptions, and emotions.

What do you mean with ethics?

Pause anytime you are asked to do anything that doesn’t feel right. Ask yourself, “What is it that makes this feel uncomfortable to me?” When in doubt, ask someone else. It is much better to ask beforehand than to have to defend your decision later.

What do you mean with credibility?

Credibility is everything, and it is always up for grabs. People can quickly forget the good things you have done as a journalist or media organization if you make one mistake.

Understanding Yourself as a writer: Self-Knowledge Leads to Career Success

What can you learn by knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

Regardless of your age, knowing your strengths and weaknesses enables you to see where you need to improve and perhaps identify a career direction.

Give some examples of when you know your strengths and weaknesses as a writer:

  • If you are skilled at explaining facts, details, and issues, then you would probably make a strong journalist or public relations writer.
  • If you can write inspiring commercial copy, you could be headed for a successful career in advertising.

What do media professionals carefully consider?

Media professionals carefully consider their situations and audiences as they write news stories, blogs, or advertisements.

How do they do that?

They identify the facts and determine what is most important for their readers or viewers to know. Before setting their fingers to the keyboard, they think hard about how they will approach their writing task.

Understanding Yourself as a writer: Good Writers are made, not born

Why are good writers made, not born?

As true as this is, writing is a skill you can learn. It can be fully developed by nearly anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort.

What kind of skills develop ideas into prose? (= Wat voor soort vaardigheden ontwikkelen ideeën tot proza?)

  • Writing requires the mental “heavy lifting” of developing those ideas into prose that is clear, concise, and well ordered. (= Schrijven vereist het mentale ‘zware opheffen’ van het ontwikkelen van die ideeën tot proza dat duidelijk, beknopt en goed geordend is.)
  • Becoming a good writer takes self-understanding, mental effort, strategies, and practice.

What does Thomas Edison say about writing?

Writing, much like genius, can be viewed as “1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” (= Schrijven, net als genie, kan worden gezien als ‘1 procent inspiratie en 99 procent transpiratie’.)

What is the MWSP?

  • Media Writer’s Self-Perception
  • Scale will help you to understand your ownperceptions of your writing

What is the GSP?

  • Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation
  • Test will help you to pinpoint your currentskill levels in these areas

The Media Writer’s Self-Perception (MWSP) Scale

What is the MWSP?

It is an instrument developed to measure how college students think and feel about themselves as writers. Research studies have revealed three main areas of self-perceptions that influence your performance as a writer: writing apprehension, writing self-efficacy and writing approaches.

What is writing apprehension?

It refers to feelings of anxiety connected with the various phases of writing (= Het verwijst naar angstgevoelens in verband met de verschillende fasen van schrijven.),like mechanical skills (e.g.: grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure), career skills, fear of being evaluated, anxiety about procrastination (= angst voor uitstelgedrag),and worry about which ideas to use.

What is Writing Self-Efficacy?

Writing self-efficacy is your confidence in your writing skills: how strongly you believe you can succeed at the writing task that faces you (= Het schrijven van self-efficacy is uw vertrouwen in uw schrijfvaardigheid: hoe sterk u gelooft dat u kunt slagen in de schrijftaak waar u mee geconfronteerd wordt.).

What does high self-efficacy mean?

High self-confidence

What does low self-efficacy mean?

  • It translates to low self-confidence.
  • g.: If you are a student with low self-efficacy, you may feel as though you cannot learn, but this is not true!

What are the writing approaches?

Writing approaches describe the way you think about undertaking a writing task.

Equally important, writers who have developed strategies believe they can write well, and therefore enjoy higher self-efficacy. Finally, developing a set of writing strategies enables you to take a deep approach to your writing, exploring new meaning and insight instead of relying upon a surface approach, which means repeating or reproducing ideas already developed by others (= Even belangrijk, schrijvers die strategieën hebben ontwikkeld, geloven dat ze goed kunnen schrijven en daarom een hogere zelfeffectiviteit genieten. Ten slotte stelt het ontwikkelen van een reeks schrijfstrategieën u in staat een diepgaande benadering van uw schrijven te volgen, nieuwe betekenis en inzicht te verkennen in plaats van te vertrouwen op een benadering op het oppervlak, wat betekent herhaling of reproductie van ideeën die al door anderen zijn ontwikkeld.).

The Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation (GSP) Test

What is the GSP?

It is a diagnostic exam you can take to determine your skill levels in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.


Explain how the dynamics of media consumption and production affect the media professional’s work.

As the digital transformation of media enters its third decade, news audiences have become both consumers and producers of a diverse array of media. Professionals must now be able to create and deliver content that is accurate, relevant, and on point for fragmented, time-pressured audiences.

Identify the responsibilities and challenges that media professionals face.

Media organizations carry with them a high public trust and are central to a functioning democracy. Employers and audiences expect media professionals to be skilled writers.

Describe the importance of skilled writing in the media professions.

News audiences, employers, and clients demand writing that is accurate, clear, and concise for both news and persuasive writing situations. 

Identify your self-perceptions as a writer.

Our informal social media writing experiences may influence our perceptions of our writing skills, but good writers are made, not born.

Explain how the Media Writer’s Self-Perception (MWSP) Scale helps diagnose writing skills.

The MWSP Scale can help you identify your self-perceptions as a writer. It addresses writing apprehension, writing self-efficacy, and writing approaches.

Diagnose your own writing skills with the Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation (GSP) Test.

This is a diagnostic exam you can take to determine your skill levels in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You can use it to interpret your test results and then consult with your instructor to work on any deficiencies you find.

PowerPoint-presentation: Introduction

If you are a successful journalist, you can open the door to opportunities for other people who do not have a voice. You have a chance to make a difference through the stories you tell.

Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer, Television News Reporter

PowerPoint-presentation: Be Prepared for That Opportunity

–       Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer

–       Continually hone your skills

–       From classroom to news room


In the Frontline Media Writing Profile, television news reporter Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer tells us about the importance of” story,” and how, when you’re a journalist, you have the great opportunity to tell the story of those who may not have a voice. She also speaks to being prepared for that opportunity. Your education is important (and that’s why you’re in this class). And, then you hone your knowledge and skills on the job – and if you’re fortunate – with a boss or editor who takes your writing to task. As Fettrow-Alderfer put it about her first job, “There, I worked with a really hands-on news director who ripped my writing apart every time. From there on out, my writing got a hell of a lot tighter.” When you are prepared, you can go into the writing situation with more confidence. We are going to review the basics of solid writing, write a lot with hands-on instruction in this class, and delve into strategies for success, plus we’ll help you identify your strengths – and what to work on – through the Media Writers Self-Perception Scale. A grammar, spelling and punctuation review and test will help you prepare for the professional world, too.

PowerPoint-presentation: Critical Thinking Questions

Give some critical thinking questions:

  1. Why is skilled writing important to the task of telling the story today?
  2. Media consumption has changed markedly in the last few years. How does this affect the role of the professional writer?
  3. How does good grammar, punctuation, and spelling affect how your writing is perceived?

PowerPoint-presentation: Informal Versus Professional Writing

Which forms of writing do you have?

  • Informal writing
  • Professional writing
  • Professional writing strategy
You may be a very eloquent writer in social media, your blog, etc. That’s great, and you may be practicing more articulate writing skills than you realize (if you don’t abbreviate everything). But, putting your writing to work as a professional requires a highly developed skillset and the ability to produce pieces that are accurate, ethical, thorough, clear and tailored to your audience. Having a deep understanding of that audience drives your professional writing strategy.

PowerPoint-presentation: Pew Research image and notes

Figure 1.1: Eight Key Takeaways About Social Media and News

PowerPoint-presentation: Where Strong Writing Skills Fit

Where do strong writing skills fit?

  • Journalism
  • Public relations
  • Advertising
Whether you use the knowledge from this class to be a better media consumer or producer, you will find the strong writing skills are required for any type of position in journalism, pr, or advertising. In the media, skilled writing is a not only is appreciated, but demanded by employers and audiences alike. Develop strong writing skills and rise to the top you profession, whether that means a seat at the editor’s desk, a place at the corporation’s management table, or in an executive slot at a PR or ad agency.

PowerPoint-presentation: Influence

How do you have to be?

  • Engage
  • Persuade
  • Inform
  • Ultimate responsibility for being honest, fair and accurate in all you write.
It takes dedication and discipline to hone professional writing skills, but those who write for a living love their jobs because they have the opportunity through what they do for a living to engage and influence people, and play a key role in the marketplace of ideas that we enjoy in a democratic society. Those in the media serve as the watchdogs of government, providing information and ideas that citizens need to understand significant issue and make decisions. The importance placed on the role requires you, as professional writer, to be honest, fair and accurate.

PowerPoint-presentation: Other Titles Require Writing

Which other titles require writing?

  • Photographers
  • Radio DJs
  • Frontline managers who relay critical information
You may be surprised to learn that most jobs require clear, concise writing skills, let along those that occasionally require creative writing skills.

PowerPoint-presentation: Tips for Becoming a Skilled Journalist

Give some tips for becoming a skilled journalist:

  • Reporting
  • Observation
  • Interviewing
  • Writing
  • More on writing
  • Ethics
  • Credibility
Television journalist Jaime Fettrow-Alderfer relays her Top Seven Tips for Becoming a Skilled Journalist in our text. Her advice if being in front of the camera is your goal: It takes more than looking good to be a skilled broadcast journalist.


“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

— Aristotle


Understanding your writing skills and perceptions of your own writing abilities are the keys to becoming a better writer and media professional.

PowerPoint-presentation: Good Writers are Made… not born

Writing is a skill you can learn.


“One percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Thomas Edison

No one is born literate and eloquent. Simply having ideas and being able to express them coherently are two different things. Writing requires the mental heavy lifting of developing ideas into prose that is clear, concise and well-ordered. Becoming a good writer takes self-understanding, mental effort, strategies, and practice.

PowerPoint-presentation: The Media Writer’s Self-Perception (MWSP) Scale

What is the MWSP Scale?

  • Writing apprehension
  • Writing self-efficacy
  • Writing approaches

PowerPoint-presentation: The Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation (GSP) Test

The GSP test


“In my profession, my writing has to be ‘on point’ all of the time. I know that the audience I write for gets so many mixed messages every day, so it is up to me to relay the information in a clear, concise, and accessible way. To me, solid writing skills are a reflection of strong critical thinking and reasoning skills.”
—Cailyn Lingwall, Emory University

Frontline Media Writing Profile: Alycia Rea, Group Director The Zimmerman Agency
What does Alycia Rea, of the Zimmerman Agency have to say about writing?
– Writing is an anywhere, everywhere, around-the-clock enterprise.
– Our bosses, clients, and teams are communicating 24/7, so you’re crazy to think that you’re not getting emails in the middle of the night.”
– She travels around the globe to work with clients
– You must be able to write wherever you are, day or night.
– You have to get used to convey work from wherever you are: “Initially it was hard to do my best writing from a car or airport or hotel room. But these days, Wi-Fi is everywhere, so I really don’t have an excuse for not getting it done.”
– An average day doesn’t exist
E.g.: Recently, I spent a big chunk of time putting together a deck (visual presentation) for one of my hospitality clients to present to the hotel owners. Another day, it may be all about writing press material.
– She puts her professional writing skills on the line every day as she engages in media relations on behalf of her clients. She’s built lasting relationships with editors and writers at key travel and consumer publications largely on the strength of her writing skills. “At Zimmerman, we have so much respect for the journalists we pitch,” she says. “That means our writing has to be distinctive, tight, and on point so we don’t waste their time. If our writing isn’t relevant, it will be ignored.” (= Rea zet haar professionele schrijfvaardigheid elke dag op het spel terwijl ze zich bezighoudt met mediarelaties namens haar klanten. Ze heeft langdurige relaties opgebouwd met redacteuren en schrijvers bij belangrijke reis- en consumentenpublicaties, grotendeels op basis van de kracht van haar schrijfvaardigheden. “Bij Zimmerman hebben we zoveel respect voor de journalisten die we pitchen”, zegt ze. “Dat betekent dat ons schrijven onderscheidend, strak en gericht moet zijn, zodat we hun tijd niet verspillen. Als ons schrijven niet relevant is, wordt het genegeerd.”)
– Today, most editors and journalists want pitches via email. You have to be able to deliver your message clearly and efficiently to get your client noticed. Our clients need to be able to see, hear, believe and trust that we van take their message and ‘brand voice’ and tell their story effectively to the press. And nothing can get lost in translation. At the end of the day, it’s all that matters.
– You work as a team of social media strategists who write and blog every day. You can’t lose brand voice, otherwise you end up making it confusing or boring to your audience.”

What is Zimmerman?
It is based in Tallahassee, Florida. Zimmerman is an advertising and public relations agency specializing in hospitality and consumer industries. Its clients include SpringHill Suites, Hard Rock Hotels, Cooper Tires, and Party City.
21st-Century Media: A Rapidly Changing Landscape
What is happening in the entire mass media industry?
Which appeared to be so solid a few short decades ago, is rapidly evolving into a digitally driven, interactive enterprise. Major newspapers that have thrived for a century are cutting back their publication schedules or going mostly online. Well-established radio and television stations, facing declining advertising revenues, are laying off news staffs.

How do you need to be as media organizations and professionals?
– Flexible and agile (= behendig) in terms of their business models
– Flexible and agile in terms of technologies
– Flexible and agile in terms of skill sets
– As a professional, you will need to be able to produce high-quality content across multiple platforms.

What will always be there as a need?
The need for skilled, professional writing, produced by people who know how to select interesting topics and tell compelling stories with accuracy and speed.

Overview of the Major Media Professions
What are the major media professions?
– Journalism
– Public Relations
– Advertising

What is the convergence of advertising and public relations called?
Strategic communication

What is strategic communication?
This means that organizations are integrating their communications with key stakeholders and speaking with one brand voice across public relations, advertising, and marketing channels.

Overview of the Major Media Professions: Journalism: Print to digital
Some publications are in both print and digital form. Which one is mentioned in this chapter?

Which industry creates the most original reporting?

Give an example:
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, have attracted new readers and advertisers through their online publications while retaining their print editions.

Which options are there for journalism?
– Having both: online and print
E.g.: The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
– Only having print publications
E.g.: The Derrick and The Bemidji Pioneer. They have survived as print publications by serving a traditional (and often aging) readership with news and advertising content they cannot get elsewhere.
– Only having online publications
E.g.: Mashable and BuzzFeed were born online and have never existed in print form

What does modern journalists do to connect with their audiences?
Create content for them on a 24/7 basis.

What is the advantage of online newspapers?
– Online newspapers provide “comments” sections for reader input at the end of many articles.
– Online publications are updated more frequently than print-based newspapers and magazines

What are the first steps for reporters?
– Doing research
– Obtaining background information
– Conducting interviews before they begin the task of writing

Overview of the Major Media Professions: Journalism: Broadcast and Cable
What is broadcast?
– It refers to radio or television where the signal is transmitted by radio wave to the receiver.
– E.g.: Fox

What is cable television programming?
– Cable television programming is delivered directly to paying subscribers
– E.g.: AT&T

What do you need to have as a broadcast or cable news professional? What is true about writers in broadcast media, in regards to competition and deadlines?
– Write quickly
– Write clearly
– Write effectively under intense deadline pressure
– Being able to operate in a highly competitive media environment that often encourages staff members to scoop the competition

Overview of the Major Media Professions: Public Relations
What is PR?
Public relations is a dynamic and fast-growing profession. Public relations practitioners work to influence public opinion, manage relationships with key publics, and create favorable publicity for their clients and employers.

What is the work setting of PR?
Work settings can range from agencies and corporations to hospitals, sports teams, school districts, and nonprofit organizations.

Which channels will PR use?
– Print
– Digital
– Broadcast
– Cable media
– Social media channels

Many times, you will plan for and manage crises.

It should come as no surprise that the bulk of the public relations professional’s work and the biggest career rewards are directly related to writing skills. Why? Explain with examples:
Whether you are writing a speech for a corporate CEO, releasing new product information through your company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, drafting an online news release in response to a crisis, or editing the company newsletter, you will be polishing your writing skills every day.

Overview of the Major Media Professions: Advertising
What is the most creative industry in the media writing sector?

What is the task of copy writers?
Copy writers create new messages with fresh approaches to selling clients’ brands, products, and services.

Advertising is about writing what kind of messages?
Copy writers listen to the needs of their clients and use their creativity to compose messages that will sell. They then work with production staff to shape those messages for particular media platforms. You can expect to write outdoor slogans, web page banner ads, radio and television commercials, print newspaper ads, and other types of promotions. You may also be a team member involved in developing an entire advertising campaign, where your key messages carry through all aspects of the campaign.

Many advertising firms may hold brainstorming meetings in their offices to come up with new concepts or ideas about a new client or project.
What is strategic communication?
Give another word for strategic communication:
Integrated marketing communication (IMC)

Who will work together?
– PR
– Advertising
– Marketing disciplines

What is IMC?
The central idea is that organizations are always communicating with a brand voice, saying something positive or negative about their brand through their public relations, advertising, product packaging, customer relations, and everything else they say and do.

Pro Strategy Connection: Nathan Crook’s Seven Tips for a Successful Journalism Career
Give 7 tips for a successful journalism career:
1. Be ready to jump on a new story
2. Be flexible and willing to work long hours
If the president speaks on Saturday evening, you will be writing the story that night,” he says. “It’s not always fun. But it is rewarding to make the front page. Then you can start tweeting it out to others.”
3. Be skeptical at all times
This is especially true with enterprise stories, scoops, and off-the-record information. Ask yourself what this really means.
4. Learn how to write interesting story pitches
Also named as enterprise stories. Here, you have a bit more leeway to think about how you want to develop and write the story. But you still need to be able to write the pitch clearly. Editors get so many of these every day, and your pitch must be compelling.
5. Pick up an outside area of expertise
Pick up something extra like a foreign language or some type of technical expertise. This will give you authority and a leg up on the competition.
6. Be hardworking and relentless (= meedogenloos)
Be flexible. Be willing to go anywhere and start at the bottom
7. Be willing to present the truth – even if you don’t like it

Professional Media Writing Strategy
What will happen when you use strategies?
Using strategy to tackle writing enables you to work more effectively and efficiently.

What is the Professional Strategy Triangle?
The Professional Strategy Triangle summarizes a strategy that many media professionals employ in any writing situation they encounter. The Professional Strategy Triangle features three corners that are critical to every media writing task: the Situation, the Audience, and the Message.

What is the first thing you do according to the Professional Strategy Triangle?
When you begin to write, always first assess the situation for which you are writing.

Which situations can be there?
– News writing
– Persuasive writing

What do you have to keep in mind when you write news?
– What type of story is this: a hard news story on a news event or a feature story based on human interest?
– What are the facts of the story? Which ones are most relevant to my audience?
– Who are the key players in the story?
– Where will I go to get the information I need? For instance, at the protest march, you might interview marching workers and speak with a restaurant manager or city or county official.

What do you have to keep in mind when you write persuasive?
– Is this a positive or a negative situation?
– Who are the key players?
– Which arguments should I use?
– Which rational or emotional appeals should I use?
– How should I structure my argument and appeals?

What do you have to keep in mind in both scenario’s?
– What are the organizational objectives for my employer or client?
– How does my message advance my employer’s or client’s agenda, profit, or return on investment?

What is the second thing you do according to the Professional Strategy Triangle?
The second corner in the triangle refers to the people who read, hear, or see your message (your audience). You must be clear about who they are so that you can tailor your message to them.

Which questions do you need to ask yourself?
– Who are my readers, listeners, and viewers?
– What are their likely predispositions toward the issue?
– Which of their demographic factors are relevant (race/ethnicity, sex, occupation, income, education level)?
– Which psychographic factors (attitudes, dispositions, life stages, hobbies) are relevant?
– How is my audience likely to interpret my message?
– How credible is my organization in their minds?

What is the final thing you do according to the Professional Strategy Triangle?
That will be your message. You’ve actively thought about your situation and audience, and assembled the pieces you need to create an effective message. What will it take to write a piece that meets the unique demands of your situation and audience?

In the Center of the Professional Strategy Triangle: The Active Thinking Process
What is the active thinking process?
It will help you gather the information you need and determine how situation and audience will drive your message. Writing is a multistep process. The quality of your final written piece will be determined by the strength of your vision and the thinking you do in these five steps:
1. Consider situation and audience together
2. Creatively envision the final story
3. Actively learn
4. Refocus thinking
5. Write

What do you have to do when consider situation and audience together?
You have to answer the questions about the situation and audience

What do you have to do when creatively envision the final story?
Try to form a mental impression of what your final piece will look like in a major publication. Think about how it will look, feel, and read in finished form. Envision the characters and what they might say or do. Which visual elements can you see alongside the story? Visualizing in this way is a powerful technique professionals in other fields frequently use to break through to their best work.

What do you have to do when actively learn?
Get out of your comfort zone. Head out into the world and feed your creativity. Get the facts and assemble the most complete picture possible.

What do you have to de when refocus your thinking?
Stop and sift through all the information you gathered in Steps 1 to 3. Figure out how it all adds up and which key themes and messages are emerging. Who appears to be credible, and what needs further investigation? Run a mental “sort” on everything you have. You can also use the FAJA Points.

What do you have to do when write?
It’s time to set it all down in words. As your mental gears begin to turn and your fingers start to click away at the keys, you can see that your story is headed in an exciting new direction. You know your situation and audience; you are inspired by your creative vision and armed with the information gleaned from interviews and research. Now it’s time to write a story that will be driven by facts, insights, and a new perspective. Remember, you would have not gained all of this had you bypassed the Professional Strategy Triangle and the active thinking process at its center. It still takes you most of the night to assemble and edit the story, but you and your news director are extremely happy with the final package. Best of all, the story makes a major splash on the news that evening!

Using the FAJA Points in your writing?
What is the FAJA points?
The FAJA Points stand for Fact-Analysis-Judgment-Action. Every message should contain a basic organizational structure that fits the situation and audience needs. the FAJA Points provide a starting place for the more specific kind of thinking you need to do to begin your piece. The points feature a series of questions that you apply to your topic.

There are four basic types of message structures, which ones?
1. Messages based on simple facts, such as a news story.
E.g.: About a recent Supreme Court decision regarding national health care.
2. Messages based on more detailed analysis of facts.
E.g.: Such as a news story examining what the Supreme Court decision means for individual states and the people who live in them.
3. Messages that use judgment to show what is positive, negative, or otherwise about an incident or event.
E.g.: This could include an editorial about how the Supreme Court decision will benefit large numbers of people who do not currently have health insurance.
4. Messages that encourage the audience to take action
E.g.: such as an online petition for signatures in support of a decision the writer wants the Supreme Court to make.

The story is much livelier and interesting when a journalist has done their homework, researched the subject, prepared good questions, and can provide insights based on their findings.

Explain fact:
– This relates to questions that identify the essential details of situations and events.
– Your questions will be:
o What happened?
o Is there a problem or issue?
o How did it begin?
o What are its causes?
– Journalists use fact-based questions to work on straight news stories. At the same time, however, public relations and even advertising writers also need to consider these questions in persuasive situations.
– fact provides only the initial information and surrounding details.

Explain Analysis:
– Analysis questions help define and explain situations, problems, or issues. Again, these tend to be largely news oriented.
– Your questions will be:
o What kind of problem or issue is this?
o To what larger class of things or events does the problem or issue belong?
o What are the pieces of it, and how are they related?
o Which experts support this analysis? Which ones reject it?
– Analysis gets at the heart of what explains or defines a situation or issue.

Both fact and analysis are essential starting points for journalists. They also provide “first stops” for public relations and advertising writers.

Explain Judgment:
– Judgment enables you to apply critical thinking to judge a situation, issue, idea, or opinion.
– Your questions will be:
o Is this a positive or negative situation?
o How serious is the situation or issue?
o How does it affect people?
o What standards should be used to judge its effect on people (happy versus sad, fortunate versus tragic, etc.)?
– News audiences often criticize media organizations for saying they are delivering straight news, when in reality, they are essentially making judgments.

Explain Action:
– The action starting point identifies what the writer must persuade people to do for example, to support a new policy, purchase a product or service, or vote for a candidate.
– The action questions are as follows:
o Why should action be taken?
o What kind of action should be taken?
o Who should take the action?
o When should the action occur?

Remember that the FAJA Points are just that—starting points. They are also thinking points that help you quickly find the focus of your piece. Professionals become so accustomed to these questions that after a short time they begin to use the questions like automatic tools they can quickly put to work. Whether you are working as a journalist, a public relations practitioner, or an advertising copy writer, the FAJA Points serve as valuable tools in your writer’s toolbox.

Describe the changing landscape of twenty-first-century media.
This landscape is uncertain, yet full of opportunities for aspiring journalists, public relations practitioners, advertising professionals, and others who are strong storytellers, able to write well across media platforms.

PowerPoint-presentation: Introduction
You have to be able to deliver your message clearly and efficiently to get your client noticed. Our clients need to be able to see, hear, believe, and trust that we can take their message and “brand voice” and tell their story effectively to the press. And nothing can get lost in translation. At the end of the day, it’s all that matters.
-Alycia Rea, Group Director, The Zimmerman Agency

PowerPoint-presentation: 21st-Century Media: A Rapidly Changing Landscape
How did it change?
– Unprecedented upheaval and rapid change
– Newspapers going online
– Declining ad revenues in broadcast venues
– Digitally driven, interactive world
– People consume and produce media all at once

PowerPoint-presentation: Major Media Professions
What are the major media professions?
1. Journalism:
Telling the facts, being objective
2. Public relations:
Different role that we play; you want the third person endorsement. It is non-paid ad
3. Advertising:
Strategic communication

PowerPoint-presentation: Journalism
What is changed in journalism?
– Print to digital
– Broadcast to cable: Its cable its Netflix

PowerPoint-presentation: Public Relations
Explain Public Relations:
– Influence opinion – more influencing,
– Manage relationships with key publics
– Create favorable publicity for clients and employers
– They target group is called public.
– It is unpaid – earned media: they can’t control it.

PowerPoint-presentation: Advertising
What is advertising?
– Create messages that move people to action
– Most creative of the media writing sectors
– Create new messages with fresh approaches to sell
– They have target audience – paid media – controlled
– Call to action

PowerPoint-presentation: Copy Writers
What do copy writers?
– Listen to needs of clients: what do they want to accomplish, what do they want to achieve
– Compose messages that sell
– Work with production staff to shape those messages for media platforms
– Slogans, web banner ads, radio/TV commercials, print ads, campaigns
– You have to persuade them that this is a good idea, with a pitch

PowerPoint-presentation: Strategic Communication
What is strategic communication?
– The merger of the public relations, advertising, and marketing disciplines
– AKA-integrated marketing communication
– Takes a consumer-centered approach to present one brand voice

PowerPoint-presentation: Tips for a Successful Journalism Career
Give some tips for being a successful journalist:
– Be ready to jump on a new story
– Be flexible and willing to work long hours
– Be skeptical at all times
– Learn how to write interesting story pitches
– Pick up an outside area of expertise
– Be hardworking and relentless
– Be willing to present the truth—even if you don’t like it

Journalist Nathan Crooks relays his Seven Tips for a Successful Journalism Career in our text. Crooks’ career has spanned many years at renown media outlets in South America,

PowerPoint-presentation: Professional Media Writing Strategy
What is professional media writing strategy:
– Simple and direct strategies to begin and organize writing
– Enable you to work more efficiently and effectively.

PowerPoint-presentation: The Professional Strategy Triangle
What is the professional strategy triangle?
– The Professional Strategy Triangle features three corners that are critical to every media writing task: The Situation, The Audience, and The Message.
– Situation
Assess the situation for which you are writing
– Audience
Be clear about who the people reading, hearing, or seeing your messages are.
Tailor your message to them.
– Message
After researching the situation and getting a rich understanding of the audience, create an effective message to meet these needs.

PowerPoint-presentation: Craft Essential
What are the craft essentials?
– Create your own professional strategy triangle
– Own it

PowerPoint-presentation: Active Thinking Process
What is the active thinking process?
– Consider the situation and audience together
– Creatively envision the final story
– Actively learn
– Refocus your thinking
– Write

PowerPoint-presentation: Pro Strategy Connection
What is the pro strategy connection?
– Journalism is a license to find out all kinds of things.
– The job allows you to meet new people and have new experiences all the time.
– Deadline pressure brings an adrenaline buzz.
– There’s no limit to what you can do.
– Seeing your name in media is a thrill.

Chris Kraul, a freelance reporter in Bogota, Columbia, and twenty-two-year veteran with the Los Angeles Times, loves what he does. He provides the Top Five Things he loves about being a journalist in the text.

PowerPoint-presentation: FAJA
What is FAJA?
– Fact-analysis-judgment-action
– Four basic types of message structures.

What are the FAJA-messages?
1. Based on facts
2. Based on detailed analysis of facts
3. Use judgment
4. Encourage audience to take action



“For me, the hardest thing about writing is trying to be completely passionate about everything I write. There are going to be times you have to write about things you don’t care about, and it is a lot harder to push through those pieces. I overcome that difficulty by realizing that in the end, those pieces of writing make me a stronger writer. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, and I like that.”

Frontline Media Writing Profile: Nathan Crooks, Bureau chief

Crooks advises aspiring media professionals to practice hard on media writing basics including lead writing, story structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. “Once those skills become internalized,” he notes, “you can concentrate on getting the news out, and on the higher-level issues that matter.”

Style: your audiences are counting on it

What is media writing style?

It provides a set of conventions that dictate how you approach and execute your writing.

Why do media professionals employ it?

  • Because their audiences expect it
  • Because it helps them work together effectively and efficiently

How must your writing be?

  • Brief (= beknopt)
  • Concise (= bondig)
  • Aimed at a high school reading level
  • Factual
  • Accurate

Why do professional media writers use style conventions?

  • For consistent application of language on many critical items
    • Spelling
    • Grammar and punctuation
    • Abbreviations
    • Job titles
    • Numbers
    • Sports and weather terms
  • Because their use and practice represent professionalism.

Media writing style conventions

Media writing style is built up on?

  • Accuracy
  • Brevity
  • Clarity

Media professionals strive to produce copy that is..

  • Active
  • Vivid
  • Direct

Media writing style conventions: be accurate

What does new audiences expect?

Truth and honesty in what they read in the media

How can you achieve that?

  • Double-checking facts
  • Verifying information from interview sources
  • Rechecking routine information such as name spellings, addresses, phone numbers, and web addresses

What can accuracy also mean?

Establishing the context of your story fairly so the reader understands it correctly. It is the mark of a true professional.

Where is the entire media industry founded upon?

The credibility of the information it presents.

What are the 2 key characteristics of accuracy?

  • Objectivity
  • Balance

What means the journalistic objectivity?

Journalistic objectivity refers to a lack of bias, judgment, or prejudice in reporting, interviewing, and writing. It means that you base your news stories only upon the facts and evidence you have gathered, and that you exclude your personal opinions. Objectivity also refers to being fair, impartial, disinterested, and nonpartisan in your news writing. In order to be as objective as possible, journalists conduct thorough research, reporting, ansd interviews with multiple sources. They attribute all information to sources.

What means balance?

Balance, a related concept, means that journalists do not take sides in a news story. They research all sides of an issue, and present the facts and viewpoints in an even manner. This gives the audience the opportunity to hear both sides of the story and reach their own conclusions. Striving for balance also means that you attempt to grasp the relative significance of the news events you are covering, taking care not to overemphasize or underemphasize any one of them in your story.

Media writing style conventions: be brief

“If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.”

What appreciates readers?


Why do you need to be brief?

Publication space, bandwidth and airtime are limited. Editors can publish or air only a fraction of the information presented to them. The less trimming your piece needs at the copy desk, the better for your employer and your career.

Give some tips to achieve brevity:

  • Short sentences and paragraphs
  • Sentences between 12 and 16 words. 20 words = readability drops
  • Carefully constructed longer sentences add color and variety to your writing.
  • Let your ear be the judge. Read the story out loud to yourself or a roommate.
  • Let it hear natural, as in an everyday conversation
  • Ask yourself whether every word in your sentence is necessary to make the audience understand the ideas you are trying to convey.

Media writing style conventions: be clear

Think first and write second. Resist the temptation to simply write down the first thing that comes into your head.

What is clarity?

It is achieved by using language in the most efficient manner possible.

What are the keys to clarity in media writing?

  • Simplicity
  • Precision

What do we mean with simplicity?

Audiences are impressed not by big words and complex sentences, but by writing that is clear and straightforward, conveying what they need to know without wasting any words. When writing distracts readers from the message by calling attention to itself, it loses its effectiveness.

What do we mean with precision?

If a writer chooses words poorly, through carelessness or misunderstanding of their meaning, readers are left confused. They may doubt the accuracy of what they are reading, and even the media channel’s credibility. Professional media writers use concrete terms and choose the exact words needed to represent the ideas they want to express. The perfectly chosen word makes writing compelling and interesting.

The connection between thinking and writing

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”

Readers appreciate which level of attention to detail?  

A professional writer knows the tools of the trade. He or she is able to construct sentences well, spell words correctly, and punctuate properly to enable readers to understand the ideas he or she is trying to convey. It makes readers more likely to trust that the writer is competent and applying due diligence in researching matters of fact, opinion, meaning, and context.

Writing well is hard work, but it will pay off handsomely regardless of your career path. Fuzzy thinking always results in fuzzy writing, but clear thinking leads to clear writing.

 A note on plagiarism

What is the act of plagiarism?

  • The act of plagiarism involves using another person’s words without attribution and without enclosing those words in quotation marks.
  • The act of taking the ideas or expression of ideas of another person and representing them as one’s own.

Style guides

What are style guides?

Style guides provide the rules for consistency, usage, and precision that a media writer relies upon daily. Style guides address everything from abbreviations, capitalization, and dates to punctuation, grammar, spelling, and word usage. Style guides provide a set of uniform rules on which everyone can rely. Style guides save considerable time and effort on deadline.

What are style guides also known as what in the writing profession?

Media professionals consider style guides to be their working “bible.”

What is the Associated Press Stylebook?

It is also named the AP Stylebook. It is used by reporters, editors, and news directors in print, online, and broadcast journalism. It is published in English, Spanish, and across digital platforms. The AP Stylebook is the most widely accepted style and usage guide in the US news industry. It is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering worldwide. The idea behind the AP Stylebook has always been simple: to make the rules clear and unambiguous, allow few exceptions to them, and when in doubt, refer users to a standard dictionary. Beyond promoting consistency and explaining proper usage, the AP Stylebook defines terms and covers topics that you are likely to encounter in your media career, such as weather terminology, business and sports guidelines, and photo captions.

What is the key thing you need to remember of the AP Stylebook?

It governs the rules of professional media writing.

What is included in a Style Guide?

  • Media career
  • Weather terminology
  • Business terminology
  • Sports guidelines
  • Photo captions
  • The Stylebook offers a basic reference to grammar, punctuation and principles of reporting, including many definitions and rules for usage as well as styles for capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals.

What is not included in the Style Guide?


AP Stylebook: Abbreviations and Acronyms

–        Before a name: 

Abbreviate the following titles when used before a full name: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Rep., Sen., and certain military titles. For further guidance, see “military titles.”

–        After a name:

Abbreviate “junior” or “senior” when they follow an individual’s name. Abbreviate “company,” “corporation,” “incorporated” and “limited” when they follow the name of a corporate entity.

–        Academic degrees:

Some degrees are abbreviated after a person’s name. Consult the “acedemic degrees” entry.

Do you know which months should not be abbreviated, per the AP Style Guide?

In all cases, use Arabic figures without “st,” “nd,” “rd,” or “th.” Example: The publicity committee will meet on July 23. For months of the year, spell out March, April, May, June, and July when they are used to indicate a specific date. Abbreviate all others. Spell out all months when using them alone or with a year alone. Examples: Jan. 29, next January, January 2016.

AP Stylebook: Capitalization

–        Proper nouns: 

Capitalize nouns that denote the unique identification of a specific person, place, or thing. Examples: James, Cheryl, Minneapolis, South Africa.

–        Proper names: 

Capitalize common nouns such as “party,” “river,” or “street” when they are integral to the full name of the person, place or thing. Examples: Republican Party, Allegheny River, Wall Street. Lowercase them when they are used alone in later references.

AP Stylebook: Numerals

Generally speaking, spell out most whole numbers below 10 and use numerals for 10 and above.


–       Sentence start:

Avoid beginning a sentence with a number, but if you must, then spell out the number. Example: “Seventeen refugees drowned when their boat capsized.”

Exception: to start a sentence, a year is expressed as a numeral. Example: “2017 will be a year of record high temperatures.”

–       Casual uses:

Spell out casual expressions such as, “I spent ten times that much on gas,” or “He ran half a mile.”

–       Proper names:

Use words or numerals according to an organization’s practice. Examples: The Big Ten, 3M, 20th Century Fox.

AP Stylebook: Punctuation

What do we need punctuation?

A tool designed to help audiences understand the news stories they are reading.

What can incorrect punctuation do?

  • Incorrect punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence and as a result, convey the news incorrectly.
  • It can also confuse readers, cause them to give up on reading your piece, and ultimately damage your credibility

Give some rules about punctuation:

  • If a punctuation mark does not help to clearly express your intended meaning, do not use it.
  • Excessive punctuation can slow the reader down and interrupt the flow of ideas you are trying to convey.
Consider the following example:

–        Incorrect:

He (the father of the injured girl) said his daughter was playing at the construction site (which was fenced off for safety) when she fell into a deep hole.

–        Revised:

The father of the injured girl said his daughter was playing at the construction site when she fell into a deep hole. The site was fenced off for safety.

AP Stylebook: Spelling

A word can have only one spelling.

When you are not sure about the spelling, what will you consult?

  1. AP Stylebook
  2. A dictionary

Pro Strategy Connection: The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters and Editors

–        Accuracy is the most important principle in journalism. There is no such thing as being first with news if we’re wrong.

–        Show, don’t tell. The best reporters assemble the details, anecdotes and comments and then let the readers decide who’s right, wrong, guilty or innocent.

–        Fulfill the Five Fs

–        Include “five easy pieces of information”

–        Write the headline first: What’s the headline? helps to focus leads, which are often too long or have too many thoughts.

–        Write a lead that runs four paragraphs long

–        Do not rely on modifiers. Adjectives and adverbs are imprecise.

–        Avoid characterizations and labels. Instead, focus on facts. Report what people say and do.

–        Be concise and clear. Prefer the short word to the long. Prefer the familiar to the fancy. Prefer the specific word to the abstract.

–        Avoid the word “but” except when you are signaling an “about-face” in your story. Clauses that start with “although,” “but,” “despite,” or “however” will confuse readers by connecting dissimilar ideas and taking readers in two different directions.

What are the Five Fs?

  • First
  • Factual
  • Fastest
  • Final
  • Take future events into account

What are the five easy pieces of information?

  • The markets
  • The economy
  • The government
  • The politics
  • Companies

Feature stories need to include?

  • A theme
  • A quotation
  • Details
  • A “nut paragraph” explaining what is at stake

Additional Language Rules

What are the additional Language rules?

  • Use the Active voice and strong verbs
  • Be precise
  • Be concise
  • Make it Accessible
  • Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

Additional Language Rules; Use the active voice and strong verbs

What is active voice?

Active voice tells the reader that the subject performs the action. It utilizes the subject-verb-object sentence structure.

For example, “I ate the cake.”

Why do professional writers prefer the active voice?

Media professionals favor active voice because it strengthens their writing. It helps readers, listeners, and viewers envision the events described in stories and enlivens otherwise uninteresting sentences.

What is passive voice?

Passive voice emphasizes the object being acted upon and reverses sentence structure by putting the object first.

For example, “The cake was eaten.”

What will passive voice create?

  • Water down sentences
  • Weaken your writing
  • It may cause you to omit key information (such as who ate the cake, in our example).
  • Passive sentences can also sound overly formal.
Passive verbs describe the action done by the subject of a sentence. They use a linking verb alongside the main verb. With passive verbs, the subject of the sentence may not be named. Passive verbs can include any form of the verb “to be.” Examples:

–       Is

–       Are

–       Was

–       Will be

–       Were

–       Have

–       Has

–       Had

When will you use passive?

You can use passive verbs when you want to downplay the actor in your sentence. Here, the actor may not be known, may have already been named, or may be relatively unimportant. However, as a professional media writer, you should always favor active voice over passive voice. It clarifies your sentences and adds force to them. Your readers will appreciate this every time.

Additional Language Rules: Be Precise

“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.”

What are the differences?

Comprise Compose
Omvatten Componeren
Principle Principal
Beginsel Hoofd
Fewer Less
Minder Kleiner
Further Farther
Verder Verder
Emigrate Immigrate
Emigreren Immigreren
Conscience Conscious
Geweten Bewust
Rack Wrack
Rek Verwoesten
Averse Adverse
Afkerig bijwerkingen
Then Than
Dan Dan
Capitol Capital
Capitol Hoofdstal
Complementary Complimentary
Aanvullend Complimenteus
Reluctant Reticent
Onwillig Terughouded
Premier Premiere
Eerste minister Première
Everyday Every day
Alledaags Elke dag
Faze Phase
Iemand storen Fase
Carat Caret Karat
Bv. 2 karaat diamant met gewicht van 400 gram Dakje Puur goud is 24 Karaat

Explain the word:

Word Meaning
To comprise To “comprise” is to include or to enclose. “Comprise” is a verb used in active voice.

E.g.: The county comprises six municipalities.

to compose To compose is to make up or be a constituent of something. Compose is used in passive voice.

E.g.: Congress is composed of two chambers.

Principle Principle is a noun that means “rule” or “axiom.”

E.g.: There is one major principle we need to discuss here.

Principal “Principal” carries three meanings. As an adjective, it means “foremost” or “major.” As a noun, it means “chief official.” In finance, it is also a noun and means “capital sum.”

E.g.: Today, Robyn Newstrander became principal shareholder in the company.

E.g.: If you make an extra principal payment on your mortgage each month, you will pay it off faster.

Fewer Fewer refers to numbers that can be counted, even very large numbers that can be counted in theory only, such as the number of stars in the sky.

E.g.: There were fewer cars on the roadway this holiday weekend.

Less Less is used for quantities that can’t be counted.

E.g.: This spring, California will have to get by on 20 percent less water than in previous years.

Further Further means “to advance” or “in addition”.

E.g.: My son plans to further his knowledge of Spain by studying abroad next spring.

Farther “Farther” refers to physical distance.

E.g.: The company moved its largest restaurant farther from the downtown district.

To emigrate To leave the country is to “emigrate,” or to be an emigrant.

E.g.: My mother’s family emigrated from Germany after the war.

To immigrate To enter the country is to “immigrate,” or to be an immigrant

E.g.: Laurel immigrated to the United Kingdom.

A carat A “carat” is a unit of weight for precious stones, equal to 200 milligrams.

E.g.: Can you measure rhinestones in carats?

A karat A “karat” is the proportion of gold used with an alloy.

E.g.: Pure gold is 24 karat.

A caret A “caret” is a V-shaped proofreader’s symbol indicating something is to be inserted.

E.g.: Carets should be placed within the text, not in the margin.

Conscience To have a “conscience” is to have a sense of right and wrong.

E.g.: My conscience tells me this joke is going to be a bad idea.

Conscious To be “conscious” is to be awake or aware.

E.g.: The patient remained fully conscious throughout the operation.

To rack The verb form of “rack” means to arrange on a rack, to torture or torment.

E.g.: I racked my brain but still could not think of a headline.

Wrack The noun form of “wrack” means ruin or destruction.

E.g.: Under his leadership, the company will come to wrack and ruin.

Adverse It is used when something is opposed to the subject in a sentence.

E.g.: Union members last week filed a grievance in response to adverse working conditions.

Averse Averse” is used when the subject is opposed to something.

E.g.: Noah is averse to any criticism about his artwork.

Then Then is most often used in describing a sequence in time or events.

E.g.: First I left the building; then I grabbed a cup of coffee

Than Than is a conjunction. It is used to compare two or more things.

E.g.: Premium gas is much more expensive than regular gas

Capital it is the city where the seat of government is located; it also means money, equipment, or property.

E.g.: Austin is the capital of Texas.

E.g.: To start our own communications firm, we need to raise capital.

Capitol Capitol refers to the building in which a legislative body meets.

E.g.: The senator invited me to her office in the Capitol building.

Complementary Complementary means “to add to, complete, or reinforce” something else.

E.g.: Multimedia storytelling and cross-channel marketing use complementary content to create the full experience.

Complimentary Complimentary means flattering or given away for free.

E.g.: Complimentary drinks will be served at the event.

Reluctant “Reluctant” means unwilling to act

E.g.: I was reluctant to correct the CEO’s grammar.

Reticent “Reticent” means unwilling to speak, to be reserved or restrained.

E.g.: I am often reticent around people I don’t know very well.

Premier Premier means first in importance, principal or chief.

E.g.: Our company offers premier writing and editing services.

Premiere Premiere means a first performance.

E.g.: We attended the premiere of the musical “Annie.”

Everyday Everyday is an adjective meaning “used daily” or “common.”

E.g.: Levi’s jeans are ideal for everyday wear.

Every day Every day is a term consisting of the noun “day” modified by “every.”

E.g.: I take a walk at lunchtime every day.

Faze To “faze” means to embarrass or disturb.

E.g.: The typo in her headline did not seem to faze her.

Phase Phase means a stage of development or an aspect or part.

E.g.: Developers are building the new condominiums in three phases.

Additional Language Rules: Be concise (= beknopt)

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

What does conciseness mean? What is a benefit of being a more concise writer?

Writing with conciseness means writing straight to the point, removing superfluous details and polishing your writing into smooth expression

How can you reach conciseness?

  • Choose specific and powerful words

Think hard and focus on the words you need to convey your idea most effectively. If you skip the “think first” step, weak, ambiguous words and phrases can easily creep into your writing. Eliminate them mercilessly until you have honed your phrases and sentences to their essential meanings.

  • Eliminate redundant words and phrases

Often, you will discover that you have written two or more words when just one will do. Some words add little to your meaning.

You may encounter redundant word pairs in which the first word carries nearly the same meaning as the second. Choose just one.

  • Favor simple words over complex ones.

Like excess words, complex words slow your readers and interfere with their understanding of your writing. They may then skip terms they do not understand and search for meaning elsewhere in the sentence. Help prevent this by choosing simple words instead of complex ones.

  • Cut the jargon and buzzwords.

Government organizations, businesses, and technology companies are famous for using jargon in their materials. Your job is to translate it into terms your audience can understand. If you cannot replace jargon, define or explain it.

Favor simple words over complex ones: give the simple form:

Consolidate Join
Parameters Limits
Proficiencies Skills
Commensurate Equal
Terminate End
Ascertain learn

Cut the jargon and buzzwords, explain the following words:

Utilize Use
Core competency Skill
Buy-in Agreement
Move the needle Make a difference
Leading edge Modern
Tiger team Team

Additional Language Rules: Make it Accessible

The media professional’s writing challenge is to convey all the important information in a manner the average reader can comprehend. And that’s the irony: it is much more difficult to distill complex issues into everyday language than it is to simply turn in a complicated piece readers will not fully understand.

Additional Language Rules: Write with Sensitivity

Words are powerful and carry tremendous meaning. They can be used to inform, uplift, and inspire your audience. They can also be used to hurt, demean, or offend. If you don’t think carefully about the meanings of your words as you set them down in writing, someone else certainly will when they read your news article, press release, or advertisement. Audiences are diverse and are likely to interpret your writing in a variety of ways. As much as possible, you must eliminate any chance of misinterpretation or offense.

What are sensitive subjects for audiences?

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Education
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Geographic location
  • Sexual orientation
  • Physical abilities

Give some sensitive things you as writer need to undermine?

  • Stereotypes

Again, the more we get to know people as individuals, the less stereotypes apply. Always question the assumptions behind any label before you use it.

  • Titles

Police officer,” “mail carrier,” and “representative” are not only more accurate; they are more descriptive. Gender neutral terms!

  • Pronouns

Avoiding sexist pronouns such as “he” or “his” can still be tricky for the beginning writer.

  • Descriptions

To avoid demeaning sexist or racial descriptions, always ask yourself whether these descriptions would be equally important if the story subject were white, a male, or someone else. Would the reader need to know about this? If not, then drop the description.

  • Disabilities and illnesses

The AP advises journalists to avoid describing an individual as disabled or handicapped unless that fact is clearly pertinent to a story.

Let the context of your story determine what is most appropriate.

 As you write, which questions do you always need to ask yourself?

  • Have I treated people fairly and equitably in my writing?
  • How would I feel if this story, phrase, or term were written about me?
  • Have I avoided stereotypes?
  • Have I avoided phrases or descriptions that could be demeaning?
  • Have I included everyone in my story who might have something important to say about it?

Additional Language Rules: Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation: The Professional Connection

Good writing requires the use of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. There is no reason to write a news story or any other piece of professional communication that contains errors. In the media marketplace, which depends so heavily upon the exchange of ideas and the words that build those ideas, the use of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation distinguishes you as a professional who knows how to use the tools of the trade.

 Can you learn grammar, spelling and punctuation?

Yes. Once you have acquired these skills, they are yours to keep. Knowing them will enable you to operate at a professional level and advance more rapidly in your career.

Additional Language Rules: Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation: The Professional Connection: Use Grammar Correctly

Explain the eight parts of speech:

 Additional Language Rules: Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation: The Professional Connection: Common Language Errors

As a media professional, you must learn to use the correct words to form sentences. As you write or edit the writing of others, you may encounter these typically misunderstood words.

When do you use that or which?

If you can read the sentence without the subordinate clause and the meaning does not change, then use “which.” Otherwise, use “that.”

Give some examples:

  • Go to the third house that has green drapes. vs. Go to the third house, which has green drapes.
  • Thedeadlines that went into effect last year have passed. vs. The deadlines, which went into effect last year, have passed.

When do you use You’re or your?

“You’re” is a contraction of “you are.” (The apostrophe stands for the missing letter.) “Your” is a possessive pronoun.

Give an example:

You’re starting to neglect your daily exercise.

When do you use its or it’s?

When the meaning is “it is,” the apostrophe, which normally symbolizes possession, creates a contraction. When the meaning is possession, the correct word is “its.”

Give some examples:

  • It’s [It is] only fair that you share the chores with me.
  • The hawk fiercely defended its nest.

When do you use lose of loose?

To lose something is to misplace or miss it. “Loose” refers to something that is free, slack, or not tight enough.

Give some examples:

  • Be careful out there, or you may lose your hat.
  • I looked under the hood and discovered that a belt had come loose from the engine.

When do you use Their or there or they’re?

If you are referring to something that belongs to more than one person, use “their.” When referring to a location, use “there.” “They’re” is a contraction of “they are.”

Give some examples:

  • The children should comb their hair more often.
  • “Bundle up, because it’s cold out there.”
  • “After work, they’re heading out for dinner.”

When do you use To or too or two?

“To” is a preposition used to express motion, direction, limit of movement, contact, purpose, or intention. “Too” is an adverb that means “also” or “besides.” “Two” is a number.

Give some examples:

  • Drive to I–74 and turn west.
  • The movies sound like fun tonight. Can I go too?
  • Smaller trailers need only two tires.

When do you use Affect or effect?

“Affect” is a verb. “Effect” is usually a noun.

Give some examples:

  • High temperatures this week will affect crop yields.
  • The effect of industrial pollution is well documented on this river.

When do you use Would of or would have?

“Would’ve,” “could’ve,” and “should’ve” are all verb contractions and stand for “would have,” “could have,” and “should have,” respectively. “Would of,” “could of,” or “should of” are all incorrect.

Give an example:

“If I could’ve made it through the snow tonight, I would have gone to the concert.”

When do you use I or me or myself?

You can determine whether to use “I” or “me” by removing the other person from the sentence and using the pronoun that sounds right. Use “myself” only when referring to yourself in a more direct manner.

Give some examples:

  • My wife and I will be celebrating our fifth anniversary this year.
  • Only two people agreed with the idea: the manager and me.
  • Sometimes, I just don’t understand myself.

When do you use Who or whom?

“Who” is used as the subject of a sentence clause. “Whom” is used as the object of a verb or preposition.

Give some examples:

  • Who gave you the scarf?
  • The new teaching assistant, whom I met yesterday, is also doing research.
Here is a simple tip for remembering which word to use: turn the sentence around and replace “who” or “whom” with “he,” “she,” “him,” or “her.” If “he” or “she” works, use “who.” If “him” or “her” works, then use “whom.”

Additional Language Rules: Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation: Sentences and Sentence Types

Sentences express a complete thought. At their basic level, sentences usually contain, what?

  • A subject:the person or thing doing the action.
  • A verb:the word that describes the action.
  • A direct object:the person or thing acted upon.
  • (Or) An indirect object:to whom or for whom an action was done.

PowerPoint-presentation: Introduction

We operate in real time. There’s not much time to think when news is breaking. I have to write an accurate, succinct headline and story summary for the wire within seconds. The competition is stiff, and people are trading on our headlines. If I make a mistake, I will lose clients’ money. So it’s a fine balance between accuracy with the need for speed.

-Nathan Crooks, Bureau Chief, Bloomberg News

PowerPoint-presentation: Media Writing Style Conventions

How need your work to be?

  • Accuracy
  • Brevity
  • Clarity

PowerPoint-presentation: Journalistic Objectivity

What does it mean with objectivity?

  • Lack of bias, judgment, or prejudice in reporting, interviewing, and writing
  • Stories based on facts and evidence, excluding personal opinion

PowerPoint-presentation: Balance

How do you reach the balance?

  • Do not take sides
  • Research all sides
  • Present facts and viewpoints evenly
  • Avoid overemphasizing or underemphasizing a point

PowerPoint-presentation: The Connection Between Thinking and Writing

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”

— David McCullough, Author

PowerPoint-presentation: Clear Thinking Is Hard Work

Adopt a professional writing strategy such as the Professional Strategy Triangle to separate you from the amateurs.

PowerPoint-presentation: Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

  • Using another person’s work without attribution
  • Writing, ideas, expressions

PowerPoint-presentation: Style Guides

Give some examples of style guides:

  • Rules for consistency, usage, and precision
  • “Bibles”
  • Associated Press
  • Chicago
  • The New York Times
  • Bloomberg News

PowerPoint-presentation:Abbreviations and Acronyms

–       Use them sparingly

–       Can impede readability, understanding

–       Reference style guides for rules

PowerPoint-presentation: Style Guide References

–       Capitalization

–       Dates

–       Numerals

–       Punctuation

–       Spelling

PowerPoint-presentation: Active or Passive Voice: Using Strong Verbs

Explain the active and passive voice:

  • Active voice

The subject performs the action

  • I ate the cake.
  • The child dropped the book.
  • Passive voice

The sentence features the object being acted upon first

  • The cake was eaten by me
  • The book was dropped by the child

PowerPoint-presentation: Be Precise

Give some tips:

  • Do not rely on modifiers—adjectives and adverbs are imprecise.
    • She was really sad … or
    • She cried for three hours
  • Use words correctly
    • The motorcycle collided with the building … or
    • The motorcycle struck the building

PowerPoint-presentation: Be Concise

How can you reach that?

  • Choose specific, powerful words
  • Eliminate redundant words and phrases
  • Favor simple words over complex ones

PowerPoint-presentation: Try to Use the Best Single Word

Give the shorter word:

It is necessary that Must
In light of the fact that –       Since

–       Because

In the event that … If
To be sure … –       Surely

–       Certainly

Is required to … Must

PowerPoint-presentation: Accessible Language

–       Translate jargon and buzzwords into terms readers will understand

–       Writing should be understandable to average readers.

PowerPoint-presentation: Write with Sensitivity

–       Stereotypes

–       Pronouns

–       Titles

–       Descriptions

–       Disabilities and illnesses

–       Sexist versus neutral

PowerPoint-presentation: Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation

Give some tips:

  • The flow of the reading experience
  • Credibility
  • Intelligence
  • Avoiding misunderstandings

PowerPoint-presentation: Eight Parts of Speech

What are the eight parts of speech?

  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Prepositions
  • Conjunctions
  • Interjections

PowerPoint-presentation: Sentence Structure

What is the sentence structure?

  • Subject

Person or thing doing the action

  • Verb

The word describing the action

  • Object

The person or thing acted upon

  • Indirect object

To whom or for whom an action was done

PowerPoint-presentation: Sentence Clauses

–       Clause: a group of words containing a subject and a verb

–       Independent clause: expresses a complete thought or sentence, can stand on its own and make sense on its own.

–       Dependent clause: expresses an incomplete thought or sentence if it is removed from the rest of the sentence.

I slipped on the ice             after the sidewalks froze.
(independent clause)          (dependent clause)

PowerPoint-presentation: Common Sentence Errors

What are the most common sentence errors?

  • Run-on sentences
  • Comma splice
  • Agreement problems
  • Split infinitives
  • Misplaced and dangling modifiers
  • Parallel construction

PowerPoint-presentation: Punctuation Marks


Comma (,) Creates a short pause within a sentence.
Period (.) Ends a sentence.
Colon (:) Indicates that a sentence (or a portion of it), quotation, or list is to follow.
Semicolon(;) Connects two independent clauses in a sentence without the use of a conjunction.
Hyphen (-) Connects words, often to form a compound modifier.
Apostrophe(’) Forms contractions and possessives.
Exclamation point (!) Indicates strong emphasis or emotion.
Question mark (?) Forms the end of the sentence that asks a question.
Dash (—) Sets apart different clauses within a sentence, creating a longer pause than a comma. Do not confuse this with the hyphen.



“Finding a human interest angle is hardest, but I ask about backgrounds, motivations and experiences and lead with that when I can. I also try to observe actions that paint a picture. I need to plan what sort of story I’m going to write about something, so I can be looking for a creative angle while I am gathering material.”

Frontline Media Writing Profile: Chris Kraul, Freelance Journalist

What does journalist Chris Kraul plug into all the time?

  • He is a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times working in Baghdad (Iran).
  • He had experiences with bomb attacks. However, the explosion dealt him a severe concussion, blinded him in one eye, and knocked him out of commission for six months. “But the main effect was that it gave me a lot more sympathy for what our soldiers were going through,” Kraul says. “After the injury, I went back to Iraq twice to cover stories about injured soldiers.”
  • The misadventure was the roughest Kraul faced in his twenty-two years with the Los Angeles Times. During those years, the newspaper also sent him to cover stories in Mexico, Afghanistan, and across South America. Kraul was named chief of the paper’s Bogota, Colombia, bureau in 2006. When the paper closed the bureau in 2009, Kraul stayed on as a freelancer. Now sixty-four, he oversees a staff of six stringers (other freelance reporters) covering politics, economics, and popular culture news in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina.
  • I usually use my laptop for writing, but I’m also plugged into social media at all times,” he says. “The LA Timesis pushing us to tweet stories and link them on Facebook. They want eyeballs. So, I tweet all my stories. I notice that a lot of my colleagues will promote other reporters’ stories, as well.”
  • As Kraul envisions, researches, and writes, he constantly thinks about his audience. What are their needs and interests? What sorts of news stories will be relevant to them, and why should they care?

Journalism: A Higher Calling

The public relies on journalists to keep them informed using what kind of skills?

  • Reporting to deliver news they need to live as informed citizens.
  • Interviewing to deliver news they need to live as informed citizens.
  • Writing to deliver news they need to live as informed citizens.

Some say that journalism is more than a profession, that it is a higher calling that fulfills something more. What?

The public trust. Journalists play a vital role in advancing the marketplace of ideas and the healthy functioning of a democratic society. In the media environment, readers, viewers, and news organizations expect journalists to exercise accuracy, objectivity, and fairness at all times. Journalists must also develop a keen sense of ethical behavior and a general understanding of legal principles relevant to the media.

What are the hallmarks of professional journalism?

  • Accuracy
  • Objectivity
  • Fairness

What will rest on these principles?

  • The credibility of the reporter
  • The extension of his or her news organization

What is epidemic in today’s converged media environment?

Sensationalism, it has never been harder to tell the difference between a blogger, a cable TV news personality, and a true professional journalist. Yet the search for truth and the need to uphold professional journalistic standards have grown more important than ever in the twenty-first century.

The First Amendment Guarantee

What document is the Journalism in the US based upon?

The guaranteed freedoms found in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment Guarantee: How does the First Amendment affect the Media in the United States?

How many rights are guaranteed in the First Amendment?

Freedom of the press is one of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Professional News Writing Standards: Truth and Accuracy

What are the most important standards of the professional news writing?

  • Truth
  • Accuracy

What is the cardinal rule of Journalism?

  • To never lie.
  • You have to seek the truth and report it. Accuracy means telling the truth and making sure it’s the truth. That means checking and double-checking the facts, often under considerable deadline pressure. A commitment to truth and accuracy also means establishing contextcarefully and giving readers all the facts they need to know to fully understand your story.

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: Objectivity

Give the definition of objectivity:

It refers to a lack of bias, judgment, or prejudice in the news reporting, interviewing, and writing process. It means being fair, impartial, disinterested, and nonpartisan.

How can you achieve your objectivity?

you must base your news stories only upon the facts and evidence you have gathered and keep your personal opinions out of your news stories.

The mere appearance of subjectivity can damage a media organization’s reputation for thoroughness and responsibility.

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: Fairness

What means exercising fairness?

Treating people as human beings, employing consideration and an effort to understand others, and not simply using them as a means to your own ends.

What is The Golden Rule?

which exists in similar form in many cultures, says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and act accordingly. Fairness in dealing with your sources and co-workers carries an added benefit: they will probably remember you and treat you equally well the next time around.

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: Balance

How can you strive for balance?

By presenting as complete a picture as possible based on the available information. This gives audiences the opportunity to hear all sides of the story so that they can reach their own conclusions.

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: Legal and Ethical Standards

What are legal standards of media law?

The basics of media law including libel, privacy, and copyright.

What are ethical standards?

It means that you must also have a solid system of ethics to guide you through these situations.

In journalism, legal tell you what you …?

Must do

In Journalism, ethics tell you what you …?

Should do

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: Deadlines

If you want to keep readers coming back to your publication, you must meet your deadlines every time.

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: Verification and attribution

What does verification of facts and attribution of those facts to sources mean?

Seek the truth and then make sure it’s the truth.

How many sources is enough, for professional journalists?

The minimum of three sources for any news story.

Attribute all information to sources. How?

  • Journalists bring a healthy degree of skepticism to every assignment they tackle.
  • They conduct background research
  • They double-check everything they are told and seek out additional sources for corroboration.

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: It’s All About Credibility

What is the foundation?


Once a news organization loses its reputation for accuracy, thoroughness, and responsibility, audiences will look for more accurate and reliable information elsewhere. Advertisers will soon follow, along with their dollars. Credibility is a priceless commodity for both you and your employer, and it must be carefully guarded at all times.

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: The Converged Media Environment

By 2000, it was clear that much of the news audience was beginning to turn away from paper media and move online. Starting in the mid-1990s, many major newspapers began to move toward online versions that included audio and video content along with traditional text and pictures. Television network news continued to lose audiences to cable news networks, but both saw revenue streams increase from their websites. Many local television and radio news stations today continue to earn a major portion of their revenue from on-air spot advertising, supplemented by website and social media advertising.

What is converged media?

It combines all the elements of the older media into single sources online, removing the old distinctions between print and electronic journalism.

In the twenty-first century, journalists generate and produce news content for the converged media environment. This involves conducting interviews, shooting photos, and recording video and audio for stories that will run simultaneously on digital, broadcast, and print platforms.

What is convergence of the media?

It is a story in progress, particularly when it comes to the role of personal media devices such as smartphones.People still want news and entertainment.

How can they do that?

  • Photos
  • Video
  • Audio

Many of the professional attributes and skills of journalism that you are learning about in this text are timeless. They include, what?

  • A healthy curiosity, keen observational skills, and broad general knowledge;
  • The ability to understand one’s situation and audience;
  • The ability to network, make contacts, and develop sources;
  • The ability to think critically about facts, opinions, and events; and
  • The ability to be accurate, objective, and balanced in one’s reporting and writing.

Today’s media employers will expect you to have developed these core skills:

  • Shooting and editing photographs
  • Shooting and editing video
  • Recording and editing audio including sound bites
  • Telling stories through design and visual elements

Professional News Writing Standards: Professional News Writing Standards: Applying the Professional Strategy Triangle to Reporting

Journalists are strong strategists. They must quickly figure out what makes a story newsworthy and focus on the essence of the news as they write the story.

 Where is the Professional Strategy Triangle focus on?

The Professional Strategy Triangle is the first strategy step. It clearly focuses a journalist’s thinking about a news story into what is newsworthy.

The Professional Strategy Triangle for Reporting

What are the Six Situational News Values?

Which questions do I need to answer?

  • Which media am I writing for? This could include print, broadcast, online, social media, and their combinations.
  • What are the facts of the story? Which ones are most important?
  • What are the 5 Ws and H (who, what, where, when, why, and how)?
  • What type of news story is this—a hard news story, a feature story, or something else?
  • Who are the key players in the story?
  • Where do I need to go to get the information I need? Is it located in online databases, public records, or somewhere else? Who needs to be interviewed?
  • What are the key situational news valuesat play in this situation?

The Six Situational News Values

What is the six situational news values?

it speaks to the qualities of a story that make it news to our readers and viewers. They are driven by what makes the story useful, relevant, valuable, and at times, entertaining to readers, viewers, and listeners. They are impact, proximity, timeliness, conflict, prominence, and oddity or novelty.

What does impact mean?

Always consider the way your news story touches the lives of your readers, and then write accordingly. As many newsroom editors have asked their reporters, “What is the give-a-damn factor?” Consider a local employer laying off workers, a newly dedicated nature park, or a national retailer opening a store in the community. All these things affect the community.

What does proximity (= nabijheid)mean?

How close to the audience did the event, situation, or issue occur? In many cases, proximity to a news event will influence its impact on audiences.

E.g.: The water crisis that erupted in Flint, Michigan, in 2014 deeply affected thousands of children and adults who live in the city.

What does timeliness mean?

When did the news occur—now, this morning, or tonight? How current is the news? News events break quickly and evolve continuously. Readers and viewers want the latest information on pressing issues—not yesterday’s news.

What does conflict mean?

Conflict is a fact of life, and while most of us are fortunate not to face it on a daily basis, people want to read about how other people experience and overcome it. Reporters often find conflict in local government, school boards, and local political issues. What issues are at the center of such conflicts, and why do they lead to conflict?

What does prominence mean?

Readers will often follow a story with very little impact, proximity, or timeliness simply because the people in the story are prominent or famous. Reporters find out which local prominent people are most newsworthy and follow what they do in their communities.

What does oddity (= vreemdheid) or novelty (= nieuwigheid)mean?

The more unusual it is, the more likely an event will be of interest to your news audience.

Explain the following words in short:

Word Meaning
Impact An issue that directly affects people in your community.
Proximity An event, issue or situation that occurs close to you.
Timeliness An event, issue, or situation that is happening right now.
Conflict A local controversy that pits one person or organization against another.
Prominence Local public figures or other people well known where you live.
Oddity or novelty An event, person, issue or situation that is clearly out of the ordinary for your community.

News audience

Which questions do you need to ask yourself before starting with writing?

  • Who are my readers, listeners, and viewers?
  • What is the news that my audience needs or wants to know? How might they use it?
  • What are their demographics (age, race/ethnicity, gender, occupation, income, education)?
  • What are their psychographics (personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles)?
  • How is my audience likely to interpret my message?
  • How do I maintain the credibility of my news organization with this audience?
You may want to think of an audience as a collection of individuals rather than as a mass of people with similar tastes and ways of thinking.


Once you have fully considered your news situation and news audience, you are ready to begin the reporting and interviewing process that will form the outlines of the message you convey in your news story.

News reporting

What is the basic process of news reporting?

It remains timeless and takes place today much as it always has.

  1. First comes the idea for a story, which grows from a reporter’s curiosity and observations, informed by an understanding of what is important to the audience. Reporters watch for news. Many times events are thrust upon journalists, but often investigative reporters must dig out stories that take time, effort, and skill to uncover.
  2. Second, once reporters have found a story idea, they search for background information and interview sources. Finally, they verify their facts and write the story.

What are news beats?

They vary according to the size of your media organization and the community in which it operates. They range from city government, business, education, sports, and agriculture to police, fire, courts, medicine, and entertainment.

On your own news beat, you constantly watch for any news that might affect your readers or viewers. You attend local meetings and events, scour public records, and cultivate sources who can provide you with news tips on emerging stories. Whatever happens on your beat, your editors and readers expect you to know about it first.

Get to Work in the Center of the Triangle

What is the active thinking process?

The circle in the center of the Professional Strategy Triangle illustrates the active thinking process you use as a reporter to develop your story, track down the information you need, interview sources, and write the news story.

Good reporters practice observation diligently. The world is full of interesting people and things, even when so much of it appears to be routine. Your next big story could be sitting right under your nose if you are keen enough to observe it. Knowing what is important to your audience arms you with clues about what to look for as you creatively envision a story.

What are active observers?

Reporters always try to witness news events firsthand in order to clearly observe what they are writing about. They do not rely solely on the accounts of other people. Instead, they are active observers who usually know what they need to watch for and what kind of information they will need to gather on the scene. Being an active observer also means physically positioning yourself so that you can see the news event.

Putting the 5 Ws and H topic points to work

What are the 5Ws and H topic?

Explain the following:

Who If your story involves a prominent or famous person, you would probably choose to focus your lead on the who topic point. Notice that it may be related to the prominence news value above.
What What happened in the news event? Before beginning to write the news story, reporters carefully establish the facts, conducting background research and interviewing as many sources as possible.
Where Be as precise as possible in reporting the location of a news event in terms of addresses, counties, regions, states, countries, and other locational elements. Always verify locations and double-check them for correctness. Often readers are most interested in news that occurs closest to them because it has the greatest potential to affect their daily lives. However, news that is breaking across the globe can affect our audience’s lives with equal magnitude. Notice that the where topic point is related to the proximity news value above.
When When did the news occur? Is it breaking now or coming up this afternoon? In general, readers are most interested in news that just happened or will soon be happening. Reporters always strive to be as precise as possible in reporting the time element in their stories in terms of times, time zones, days, and dates. Critical news events turn upon time elements, and you must make sure you have it right. This topic point is related to the timeliness news value above.
Why Because human beings are curious, the why can often become the most important news element of your story. For instance, what led to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? In 2014, audiences across the globe scoured the news for months on end to find out why it happened. Addressing this topic point can also help you to uncover important trends related to your story subject or address the motivations behind the people in your story.
How Focusing on the how (related to the why) can help your audiences understand how a process works, how to approach a problem, or how to accomplish an everyday task. It can also help explain to readers how events in a news story led up to where we are today.


Early in the development of the story, settle on the types of facts you need to observe in order to tell your story. For instance, a story featuring conflict will probably first center on who, what, and perhaps where.

Pro Strategy Connection: How to boost your writing using creative visioning

How can you boost you writing using creative visioning?

  • Visualize what a dynamite story will look and feel and read like
  • How will the headline, lead, and quotes read? What about the photos running alongside the story?
  • Thinking in advance about how you will conduct an interview, cast the news lead, or structure your story will help you avoid walking into stories cold or getting into trouble on deadline
  • Promote it so that they’ll work on it, and maybe campaign for your story to get prominent placement
  • Don’t just send me raw notes. Send me a story that you can imagine writing for. Visualize it.

The Role of Skepticism

Media professionals and journalists learn to develop a healthy degree of skepticism, why?

They use it for everything they see and hear, whether it comes from a live source or a stored source, such as a website or set of public records. Simply because someone told you something (even if that person is a powerful authority figure) or you located a piece of information in a Google search does not make it automatically true.

What will good reporters do?

Always search for the missing piece, the illogical statement, or the answer that falls short in all that they observe.

Research: Developing the Story Background

What included the story background?

  1. Your own background information. Examples include material about the community and your audience, or information you have gathered covering similar stories.
  2. Information explaining the news event. This refers to facts you will uncover as you conduct research for the story. You may need to examine public records, research the web, or speak with people who are familiar with the story.
  3. Information that sources don’t want attributed to them. In rare instances, news sources want to remain anonymous. Before granting this request, always check with your editor or news director first. If he or she allows it, you will still need to cross-check the information with other sources before using it.

Use the Professional Strategy Triangle to look again at your situation and audience factors. What are the questions you need to keep in mind?

  • Am I working on a hard news or feature story?
  • What is my deadline?
  • Which situational news values are driving the story?
  • Who are my readers, listeners, and viewers?
  • Which information will be most important to them in this story?
  • What type of information do I need to gather, including audio and video?

To bring back the information you need for your story, concentrate on recording three different types of material, which ones?

  • Important facts and details
  • Key quotes
  • Personal observations

What do you mean with important facts and details?

The facts and details you gather should answer as many of the 5 Ws and H as possible. Finding this information requires you to be proactive. Get it down on your notepad and confirm it with your sources on the scene. You will need to approach people you may not know and ask them for information. 

What do you mean with key quotes?

Carefully write down the names, ages, and addresses of everyone with whom you speak. If they are speaking too fast, ask them to slow down. After you note a possible quote, read it back to the subject to verify you have recorded it correctly. 

What do you mean with personal observations?

Reporters often refer to personal observations as “color.” These details will enhance your story and bring it to life. Even if you have taken video on your smartphone, having notes about your impressions at the scene will make it easier to describe when you write the story back in the newsroom.


When do you use interviewing?

Essential facts for a story can only be obtained directly from people, or human sources.

What must you obtain as a reporter?

  • you must possess strong interpersonal skills.
  • You must be able to convince people to talk to you, make them feel at ease, and obtain their permission to use information that perhaps only they can provide.
  • You must enjoy talking to people and understand how to relate to them.
  • You must also be willing to speak with people in many different types of places, often outside your comfort zone.
  • You may be able to connect to your sources only by phone, which calls for persistence and solid phone communication skills. Shy people rarely become good reporters.

What is the purpose of an interview?

to gather the information you need for your story.

Types of interviews

Which types do we have?

  • Face to face
  • Person on the street
  • Phone or skype
  • Email

What does face-to-face mean?

Face-to-face interviews give you the best opportunity to put your powers of observation to work and look for additional story angles or photo opportunities. It also does the best job of informing the five senses, which always boosts your writing and the quality of the final story.

Voice inflections and pauses in the conversation could provide valuable cues about what she was feeling at the moment or about to say next.


A face-to-face conversation gives you the opportunity to establish trust.

What does person on the street mean?

As a reporter, you will often interview subjects in person while you are out on a story. You will need to muster up your courage and approach people you may not know and who may not want to talk to you. You will need to employ a mix of friendliness, salesmanship, and interrogation skills. These types of interviews represent the truest form of reporting and often yield the most important information. When you spot a likely source, politely introduce yourself and your media organization. Explain the story you are covering, and ask whether he or she would be willing to speak with you for a few moments. Never forget that no one has to talk to you for your story; you must persuade them to do so, and this may take some convincing if your source is reluctant or in a hurry.

What does phone or skype mean?

You may be unable to interview your source in person, or working against a tight deadline and need to briefly interview sources or verify information before filing your story. In these cases, phone or Skype interviews will do the job. If you can project a positive personality and establish a rapport with your source using just your voice or a screen image, you can gather the information and quotes you need. Phone interviews give you the added advantage of being able to use a speaker phone or headset and type your notes on a computer as you talk with your source. A word of caution: when conducting phone interviews, make sure you can verify your source’s identity.

What does email mean?

Use email only as a last resort, when there is absolutely no other way to reach your source.

What are the disadvantages of email?

  • It does not give you an interactive dialogue or conversation.
  • It does not give you the ability to see your source’s face, hear his or her voice, seek clarification, or ask follow-up questions.
  • It does not provide the human connection or sensory input of an in-person, phone, or Skype interview.
  • People do not write the same way they speak. When sources write out their quotes, they tend to manage them and make them sound overly formal, which may not play well in your story.
  • Email is a “thin” medium, which means that all you have is your source’s words. You cannot look the person in the eye, hear his or her voice, or ask what he or she meant in a statement. As a result, it is easy to take a source’s information or quotes out of context.

Preparing for the interview

Once your editor has assigned you a story and you have identified some promising interview leads through your story research, begin preparing for your interviews by which steps?

  1. Contact your sources immediately to request interviews.

As a rule, news stories should include a minimum of three sources. Do not delay in contacting them; they may be out of town and take some time to get back to you. Or perhaps they are available to speak with you now, but not three days from now.

  1. Get your questions ready. 

When you make your initial call to a source, he or she may surprise you by saying, “Now is a good time. Can we talk right now?” Be ready with at least a half-dozen interview questions you have developed through your story research and make sure your notepad is within easy reach. You can expect to depart from this list of initial questions as other interesting material comes up during the interview, but having your essential questions ready will ensure that you are not caught unprepared.

  1. Make notes and follow up. 

Some sources will fail to get back to you promptly or ignore your calls altogether. Others will be reluctant to speak with you and will avoid your calls or emails. Getting through to these people and landing interviews with them will require diplomacy, persuasion, and persistence. Keep meticulous notes of whom you contacted and when. If someone has not responded to you after several hours or days (depending on your deadline), contact them again. Don’t assume that one attempt will be enough. While you are waiting for responses, continue researching your story.

  1. Consider your source’s communication preferences. 

Is your source more likely to respond to voice mail, email, or social media? Everyone prefers different communication methods, so always call and send an email message at the least. Otherwise, you could leave five voice mail messages only to have your source later say, “I never check my voice mail. If you had sent me an email, I would have gotten right back to you!”

  1. Make use of other people. 

Secretaries, assistants, and other helpers can be invaluable in helping you to track down sources and set up interviews. They may also be able to provide you with background information, materials, or additional leads for your story. Always remember to ask for these extra items when you make your initial call and mention your deadline. Leave both your phone number and email address for your source to get back in touch with you.

  1. Confirm arrangements with your source. 

Once your source responds to you, make a friendly introduction and confirm the interview date, time, and place. Tell your source how long you expect the interview to last, and if appropriate, the kinds of questions you plan to ask. A positive, diplomatic attitude will go far here and help begin the interview on the right note. Ask whether your source can give you any background material now to help you prepare for the interview.

  1. Check your equipment. 

Is the battery in your phone, camera, laptop, or digital recorder charged? Do you have a reporter’s notebook and several pens that work?

  1. Groom and dress appropriately.

Regardless of the interview situation, you are always representing your media organization. Be professional. If you are interviewing your subject in person, shower, shave, and dress appropriately.

  1. Be early. 

Verify the address and make sure that you know how to get there. Allow extra time for traffic delays, parking, and finding your interview location. It is always better to arrive early; this will give you time to collect your thoughts before the interview begins. If you are interviewing your subject by phone, Skype, or FaceTime, check all your connections 30 minutes beforehand to ensure that everything is functioning. When the appointed hour arrives and the phone rings, you should be seated with your notes in front of you, ready to go.

Interviewing Procedures

Interviews are semiformal interpersonal communication situations—part conversation and part interrogation. Interviews should be planned, with questions thought out before discussion takes place.


As a journalist, you should be prepared to lead your subject through a series of questions to obtain the information you seek.

 How is an interview contained?

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

What is the introduction?

The introduction occurs as you and the source greet each other. Rapport-building small talk helps set the subject at ease, so plan a few conversation starters ahead of time: the weather, results of recent sports events, or major news topics of interest in the local area.

What forms the body of the interview?

The question-and-answer section. Ask a question or two based on your story research, and then let your source speak for a while. Take notes and ask the source to slow down or restate anything you didn’t get at first. Think ahead to your next question, and other new ones that may arise, but resist the temptation to jump in with them too quickly. Often, sources will make some of their most important statements near the beginning of the interview. When you sense that your source has finished answering the question or is drifting too far from it, it is time to ask your next question.

Types of Interview Questions

Which types of interview questions do we have?

  • Closed-ended question
  • Open-ended question
  • Probing questions

What is the closed-ended questions?

The closed-ended question seeks brief answers like confirmation of a date, time, address, or some other objective response. Closed-ended questions are easy to answer and often work very well to move a subject into a deeper line of conversation.

Give some examples of closed-ended questions:

  • Where were you when the tornado occurred?
  • Did you get a look at the man who stole the car?
  • What time did you see the plane go down?
  • What is your name and address?

What are open-ended questions?

The open-ended question allows the subject to give details and perspective in long answers. They are most useful for uncovering descriptions and explanations. Subjects have to think a bit more to answer open-ended questions, so be patient as they answer. A healthy mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions works well for most interviews.

Give some examples of open-ended questions:

  • Can you describe how this wedding gown is made?
  • How was the dog behaving just before it bit the neighbor?
  • What inspires you to run in so many marathons?
  • Which organic ingredients are used in this skin care line?

What are probing questions?

Reporters use probing questions to seek additional information from their subjects. A subject may tell you only part of what he or she knows. Ask probing questions to gather more details. Probes are not usually planned. Reporters learn this technique through experience and use it to ask follow-up questions.

What are the three types of probes?

  • Clarification
  • Amplification
  • Silent probes

What are Clarification probes?

They ask for verification and precise detail. They are usually closed-ended questions.

What are Amplification probes?

They seek out more in-depth explanations of events and issues, and usually consist of open-ended questions.

What are Silent probes?

Silent probes work well when you hear someone give a description or make a statement and then pause. In this case, patiently wait for the subject to resume talking and listen carefully to what he or she says next. Subjects often naturally want to fill in silent spaces with more explanation. This is precisely when some of your most valuable information may emerge.

Taking Notes

Laws in some states make it illegal to record people without their permission.

Finally, it takes a tremendous amount of time to transcribe recorded notes following an interview. It is usually quicker and easier to simply look at your notes on a notepad as you write the story.

What are the advantages of the good old notebook and pencil?

  • You can count on them to work every time you use them, as there is no possibility of mechanical or electronic malfunction with these simple tools.
  • You can also easily fit them into a pocket, purse, or small pack.


Describe the First Amendment and its impact on media in the United States.

Freedom of the press is one of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. In the United States, the media acts as the essential watchdog of government.

Discuss professional news writing standards.

These include a commitment to accuracy, objectivity, fairness, and balance. They also include adherence to legal and ethical standards, meeting deadlines, verification and attribution, and maintaining journalistic credibility. 

Identify skills needed in the converged media environment.

Today’s journalists must generate and assemble content in new ways for the converged media environment. They must be able to shoot and edit photographs and video footage, record and edit audio including sound bites, and tell stories through design and visual elements.

Apply the Professional Strategy Triangle to reporting.

Journalists must understand how their news situation and news audience shape the message, or news story. Journalists also utilize the four-step active thinking process in the reporting and interviewing process. 

Research and report on a news story.

Reporters examine records and published information to research the background and all sides of their story.

Conduct an interview with a news source. Reporters interview a variety of news sources and present a range of viewpoints and quotes in their stories.

PowerPoint-presentation: The first Amendment

What is the First Amendment?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

PowerPoint-presentation: Freedom of the press

What is the freedom of the press?

  • One of five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment
  • Media act as watchdog of government at all levels
  • Jorge Ramos/Univision example
In the 2015 political race, then presidential candidate Donald Trump had Jorge Ramos of Univision extracted from a rally when Ramos persistently questioned Trump’s position on immigration. This was very disturbing to the nation’s journalists as an infraction of freedom of the press.

PowerPoint-presentation: News writing standards

What are the news writing standards?

  • Truth and accuracy

Most important

“Seek the truth and report it.”                   S

  • Society of Professional Journalists

Tell the truth and make sure it’s the truth

Context matters

PowerPoint-presentation: Objectivity

What are the objectivities of the writings?

  • The lack of bias, judgment, or prejudice in news reporting
  • It means being fair, impartial, disinterested, and nonpartisan
  • Let’s reader from their own opinions
  • Try to be fair and objective.

PowerPoint-presentation: Fairness

What do you have to do?

  • Treating people as human beings.
  • Employing consideration and an effort to understand others.
  • The Golden Rule: treat others fairly, everybody has the right to tell their story.

PowerPoint-presentation: Balance

How can you reach the balance in your article?

  • Give all sides of the issue equal length or depth of coverage
  • Present as complete a picture as possible.
  • Audiences get all sides of the story to form their own opinions.

PowerPoint-presentation: Legal and Ethical Standards

What are the legal and ethical standards?

  • Practiced in our industry—necessary to know
  • Legal standards refer to basics of media law. What youmustdo
    • Libel
    • Privacy
    • Copyright
  • Ethical standards refer to solid system to guide you through these situations
    • What you shoulddo

PowerPoint-presentation: Deadlines

Are deadlines critical in our industry?

Yes, they are for real. Especially with breaking news.

What are the characteristics you have to have when writing?

  • Write accurately
  • Writing quickly
  • Writing forcefully under time pressure
  • Repeat reliably every day

What should you reach with deadlines? Why?

Keeps readers coming back, what is the left saying, what is right saying, so I can stick in the middle.

PowerPoint-presentation: Verification and Attribution

What do have to do?

  • Verify facts
  • Attribute to sources
  • Minimum of three sources
  • Double-check everything
  • Corroborate (= bevestigen)

PowerPoint-presentation: Credibility is Key

Why is credibility key?

  • The foundation to journalism
  • Lose credibility
  • Lose reputation
  • Lose audience
  • Lose advertising dollars.

PowerPoint-presentation: Converged Media Environment

What is Converged Media Environment?

  • Combines all elements of older media into single sources online.
  • Removing old distinctions between print and electronic journalism.

PowerPoint-presentation: Applying the Professional Strategy Triangle to Reporting

–       Journalists are strong strategists

–       First step to writing

–       What makes a story newsworthy?

–       The essence

–       Clearly focuses the writer’s thinking

PowerPoint-presentation: The Six Situational News Values

What are the six situational news values?

  • Qualities of the story that make it news.
    • Relevant
    • Useful
    • Valuable
    • Entertaining
  • Impact
  • Proximity(= nabijheid)
  • Timeliness
  • Conflict
  • Prominence (= uitsteeksel)
  • Oddity/novelty (vreemdheid/fantasie)

PowerPoint-presentation: News Audience

Focus on what the audience wants to know.

Which questions do you have to question yourself?

  • Who are they?
  • How might they use the news?
  • Their demographics?
  • Their psychographics?
  • How are they likely to interpret the message?
  • How do I maintain credibility with them?

PowerPoint-presentation: News Reporting

What are the characteristics of news reporting?

  • Timeless basics

1) idea

2) background information and interviews

3) verify facts and write

  • News beat—area of coverage

PowerPoint-presentation: 5 Ws and H

Look for the heart of the story and central facts that revolve around it using, which words?

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

PowerPoint-presentation: Creative Visioning

Visualize what a dynamite story will look and feel and read like.”

-Chris Kraul

What do you have to determine?

  • How your interview will go
  • How to cast the news lead
  • Structure your story
  • Get ahead of deadline

PowerPoint-presentation: Skepticism

–       Drives the need for verification

–       Process reporters undertake to double-check or triple-check the accuracy of what they have seen or heard.

PowerPoint-presentation: Research

Which research do you have to do?

  • Developing the story background

Information from your own background

Information explaining the news event

  • Public records, web research, interviews

Information from those who wish to be anonymous

  • Always cross-reference

Source—even publicly available records

What are the three different types of material?

  • Important facts and details
  • Key quotes
  • Personal observations

PowerPoint-presentation: Interviews

Which kinds of interview are there?

  • Face-to-face
  • Person on the street
  • Phone or Skype

PowerPoint-presentation: Preparing for Interviews

How can you prepare for interviews?

  • Contact sources immediately to schedule
  • Prepare questions
  • Make notes and follow-up
  • Consider your source’s communication preferences
  • Make use of other people
  • Confirm arrangements with your source
  • Check your equipment
  • Groom and dress appropriately
  • Be early

PowerPoint-presentation: Interviewing Procedures

What are the interviewing procedures?

  • Should be planned with questions well thought-out in advance
  • Be prepared to lead subject through a series of questions to get to information you seek
  • Interviews contain an introduction, body, conclusion

PowerPoint-presentation: Types of Interview Questions

Which types of interview questions are there?

  • Closed-ended
  • Open-ended
  • Probing (= indringende vragen)

PowerPoint-presentation: Taking Notes

What is taking notes?

Part of the reporter’s tool kit

Why don’t you rely solely on technology?

  • Not as reliable as notepad
  • Can fail
  • Transcribing takes time

PowerPoint-presentation: Pro Strategy Connection

What is Pro Strategy Connection?

  • Record and double-check your subject’s name, address and age
  • Establish his or her connection to the story
  • Ask story-related questions and gather quotes
  • Write down as much key information as possible
  • Ask subject to slow down if needed
  • Write down person’s contact information
  • Record names, place, physical description to accompany photos/video

PowerPoint-presentation: Concluding the interview

–       Restate what you heard

–       Verify details, name, spelling, contact information

–       Do not promise article review



“From writing reports to crafting stories, our culture prizes the ability to turn emotions, events and facts into words. The hardest thing about writing is the responsibility that comes with telling someone else’s story. I overcome this through staying true to their voice and investing myself in the story.”

Versatility (= veelzijdigheid)is the key

Why is versatility key?

Because journalists have to write stories about different subjects.

What is a feature story?

Features are composed in a more leisurely and descriptive style. They explore their topics and human subjects in greater depth than hard news stories. Feature stories play a valuable role in the daily news lineup because they provide readers with entertainment and an escape from daily routines. They are “evergreen” in nature and do not have to be as timely, local, or hard hitting as hard news stories.

In the Multiplatform environment you need to have the ability to write copy for video and audio stories, shoot and edit photographs, and record and edit video and audio. If you can build a set of solid reporting skills, learn to write news proficiently, and then execute those skills in the digital environment, you can look ahead to a bright career path in journalism.

The Multiplatform Story

What are the advantages of the multiplatform?

  • It enables them to reach audiences who might not purchase the print versions of their publications.
  • Greater advertising revenues.

What is the multiplatform story? What is the multiplatform environment a combination of?

Which feature digital content including audio and video elements, links to related stories, and links to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels to enhance the story experience for digital readers.

What takes place in the summary lead?

This type of lead summarizes the essential news elements for the reader. Depending on the story, you may also use other types of leads.

What is the inverted pyramid story structure?

In most cases, use the inverted pyramid story structure. Here, the writer arranges the story elements in descending order of importance.

Give some tips:

  • Provide a clear nut graf. This is a paragraph that tells readers in a nutshell what the story is about and why it is news.
  • Use short sentences, but vary sentence length and structure.
  • Place attributions for quotations at the end of sentences.
  • Place key details high up in the story, because the first four paragraphs of online news stories are the most frequently read.
  • Place video, audio, and social media screen captures in stories with short captions. They do not need to be referred to in the story itself.

Writing the Hard News Story: The News Lead

What is the news lead?

This is a sentence written to briefly explain the essential facts of the story so the reader can easily grasp them.

Writing the Hard News Story: Writing the summary lead

What takes place in the summary lead?

Reporters usually begin hard news stories with a summary lead that states the central point of the story and encapsulates the key facts in an easy-to-understand fashion for the reader. They build their summary lead from the two sets of points: The six situational news values and the 5 Ws and H topic points

What are the six situational news values?

  1. Impact
  2. Proximity
  3. Timeliness
  4. Conflict
  5. Prominence 

What are the 5 Ws and H topic points?

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. Why
  6. How

Writing the Hard News Story: Lead writing guidelines

Give some guidelines for writing the lead:

  • Use subject-verb-object sentence structure
    • Incorrect:

In the most significant judicial election involving a contested state judiciary since 1844, three Democratic candidates won seats on the Supreme Court of Virginia Tuesday.

  • Correct:

Three Democratic candidates won seats on the Supreme Court of Virginia Tuesday.

  • Lead with the news.Get straight to your point. Do not begin your news lead with the attribution:
  • Use strong, active verbs.

These capture the color and action of a news event, and paint a picture in the reader’s mind. In general, try to avoid using forms of the to be verb phrase.

  • Passive:

A new property expansion plan has been developed by architects for the Cleary Creek Mall in Midvale.

  • Active:

Architects for the Cleary Creek Mall in Midvale have developed a new expansion plan for the property.

  • Remain objective

As the reporter, your job is to gather the facts and convey the news to your readers in straight-ahead fashion. You are not supposed to provide your own opinion, advocate, or provide commentary in the lead:

  • Opinionated

The DeValdi building in the downtown art district won’t be empty for long, thanks to a new Italian restaurant that will soon be moving in for everyone to enjoy.

  • Objective:

The DeValdi building in the downtown art district won’t be empty for long because a new Italian restaurant will soon be opening there.

Combining strategies to write a news lead on deadline

Using professional strategy, reporters on the beat quickly learn how to figure out the five Ws and H topic points in their stories.

Hard News Story Structure

What does a well-structured story do?

A well-structured story quickly gives readers the information they need and enables them to easily move through the story.

What is the inverted pyramid structure?

The inverted pyramid structure is a simple one that serves readers well. Here, the reporter arranges the story elements in descending order of importance.

What is true about the inverted pyramid story structure, regarding order of importance?

  • In the lead, he or she conveys the most newsworthy facts—those that readers must know even if they do not finish the rest of the story.
  • The second and third paragraphs continue with the next-most important set of facts—those that elaborate upon information contained in the lead. Key details, contrasting viewpoints, and quotes from sources may be introduced here as well. In similar fashion, later paragraphs trail off into secondary details or related topics. An inverted pyramid story that runs too long can easily be trimmed from the bottom without sacrificing any essential facts.
  • In online publications, lengthy front-page stories can run in their entirety, but the inverted pyramid structure enables editors to provide links to the rest of the story for readers who care to finish it.
  • Hard news stories using the inverted pyramid structure do not end with conclusions. Instead, they simply trail off to less significant facts and details. The story’s conclusion is already contained in its lead.
  • In addition, the inverted pyramid structure provides you with a mental strategy to sift through your facts and prioritize them from most to least important. You will use this story structure throughout your media writing career.

The Inverted Pyramid

Using Quotations

Why do journalists use quotations?

To connect statements of fact and opinion to their sources. Quotes lend balance to news stories with contrasting viewpoints from sources and enable readers to make judgments about their credibility. Quotes take readers inside the story, allowing them to view the news through the eyes of the people who are making it.

Why would you use quotes?

  • Accuracy
  • Completeness

Which forms of quotes are there?

  • Direct quotes
  • Indirect quotes
  • Partial quotes

Direct quotes

What is a direct quote?

  • Use direct quotes when your source makes a statement that is significant, controversial, or colorful.
  • A direct quoteencompasses the source’s entire statement exactly as he or she said it, enclosed in quote marks, and attributed to the source.
  • Not longer than 3 lines!

Give an example of a direct quote:

“Because of the unstable soils, we had to abandon this building site,” said Tim McMillan, lead engineer for the hospital construction project. “Since then, we have retained several local realtors to help us look for new sites. This will be a very exhaustive process.”

Indirect quotes

What are indirect quotes?

  • The indirect quoteis a paraphrase of a direct quote.
  • Indirect quotes allow you to rephrase what your source said in a clearer, more concise fashion.

Give an example of indirect quotes:

  • Original:

“Yeah, I’ve been bipolar for years, but the marijuana is so important . . . I would have never gotten off the pills I was taking before,” said Marilee Phipps, a 43-year-old Aldeen resident.

  • Paraphrased:

Marilee Phipps, a 43-year-old Aldeen resident, suffers from bipolar disorder. She said she would have never have been able to quit taking pills for her condition if not for medical marijuana.

What are partial quotes?

Reporters may try to piece together a partial quote that is weak or confusing on their own. However, the result is often no better. Besides making for choppy writing, partial quotes used this way can lead the reader to think the quoted phrases are somehow unusual or ironic when they are not. It is almost always better to simply paraphrase what your source said and run it as an indirect quote.

Can Quotes be changed?

The safest route is to either use your source’s words exactly or, if you cannot do so, paraphrase their statements.


Altering a quote even slightly can change its meaning and create inaccuracies in your story. It can also compromise the reputation of your source and you as a reporter. Play it safe and steer by the AP’s advice.

Handling Attribution

What is attribution for your readers?

Attribution tells readers who the sources of your information are and enables them to judge the credibility of your story based on your sources’ identities.

Give the guidelines for handling attribution:

  • Always provide attribution for
    • Direct and indirect quotes
    • Statements of opinion
    • Statements about controversial issues
    • Facts that are not well established
  • Attribute information to people, documents, or publications.

Do not attribute information to places or organizations.

  • Incorrect:

The Budget Office said today that the state’s deficit is projected to increase 12 percent in the upcoming year.

  • Correct:

Budget Office director Nancy Wilkins said today that the state’s deficit is projected to increase 12 percent in the upcoming year.

  • Attribute information as early as possible in the quote.

In general, place the attribution at the beginning or ending of the first sentence. Do not make the reader guess at who is speaking.

  • Incorrect:

“Last year was a tough one for the American people, and we all understand that. At the same time, let’s remember that failures of the past don’t dictate what is possible in the future. I’m confident that working together, members of Congress can set us back on track with a budget that works for all of us,” the president said.

  • Correct:

“Last year was a rough one for the American people, and we all understand that,” the president said. “At the same time, let’s remember that failures of the past don’t dictate what is possible in the future. I’m confident that working together, members of Congress can set us back on track with a budget that works for all of us.”

  • Attribute often enough so that readers can tie the information to the correct sources.

Save readers from guessing who is saying what.

  • Identify sources properly.

Full identification enables readers to understand who your sources are and what they bring to your story.

  • Identify most sources by name, age, and address.
  • Identify public and private officials by name and job title.
  • On second and subsequent references, use last name only.
  • Use saidas the verb of attribution.

You may be tempted to add variety to your writing by using such verbs as stated, commented, replied, warned, noted, or suggested. However, each of these verbs implies something more than said and so may not be appropriate for your story. Said is the best choice because it is impartial and accurate.

  • Incorrect:

“Due to the ongoing theater renovations, our regular show schedule may not continue throughout the season,” warned manager Meredith Rousch.

  • Correct:
  • “Due to the ongoing theater renovations, our regular show schedule may not continue throughout the season,” said manager Meredith Rousch.

Pro Strategy Connection: Want to boost your news writing skills: check out these tips from an editor

How can you improve your writings skills?

  • Get off your butt and write, write, write.
  • Read and emulate the work of professional journalists who are doing the best work in the field.
  • Proofread on paper.
  • Accept that another set of eyes on your work will always pick up something you failed to notice.
  • Get out of the library or classroom and do something outside your normal range of experience.

Writing the Feature Story

What is the feature story? What is true of a feature story?

the feature story deals with “soft news,” exploring the people, places, events, and things that surround us. Feature stories focus on human interest topics including entertainment, ironic situations, personalities, animals, cultural events, and others.

What is the difference between a feature story and hard news story?

Features differ from hard news stories in that they may not always rely upon the six situational news values. They are compelling even though most do not directly affect the lives of audience members. Instead, they tell of people and situations that illustrate the realities of life in our communities and the world. Unlike hard news stories, features can be “evergreen” and may not have to be as timely as hard news stories.

Feature stories focus on human interest topics ranging from community events to unusual occupations and play a valuable role in the daily news lineup.


At the same time, note that feature stories are still journalistic in nature. They are not works of fiction, personal essays, editorials, or opinion pieces. You must still remain objective, report only the facts, quote your sources accurately, verify all information, and follow all the journalistic guidelines presented in this text. In other words, news feature writers are still journalists at heart.

Feature story categories

What are the categories of feature stories?

  • The historical or commemorative feature
  • The personality profile
  • The explanatory feature
  • The how-to-do-it feature
  • The participatory feature
  • The travel or adventure feature
  • The hobby feature
  • The odd occupation feature
  • The first-person feature
  • The medical feature
  • The business feature

Looking for Feature Story Topics

Which strategies will help you?

  • Professional strategy triangle
  • Use of curiosity and observation

Writing the Feature Lead

What is the feature lead?

The feature lead must grab the reader, set the tone and pace for the story, and move the reader into the narrative.

Which categories do we have?

  • The delayed lead
  • The descriptive lead
  • The ironic lead
  • The direct-address lead
  • The quotation lead
  • The question lead

What is the delayed lead?

A delayed lead postpones identifying the person, place, or event addressed in the story. After a few paragraphs, the story includes a nut graf to summarize its main point for the reader.

What is the descriptive lead?

This type of lead describes a person, a setting, or a situation with verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to paint a picture in the reader’s mind

What is the ironic lead?

Ironic leads build on twists of fate in which seemingly normal situations play out in an unexpected way.

What is the direct-address lead?

The direct-address lead reaches out to readers and speaks to them using the second-person (you) voice. It can be conversational in tone and grab reader attention.

What is the quotation lead?

Although not often used, direct quote leads can quickly introduce the reader to a main story character. A good quotation lead can set the stage for the rest of the story and often occurs in the context of other factors central to the story’s theme.

What is the question lead?

Another uncommon type of lead, the question lead can grab readers’ attention with a query that relates to them.

Organizing the feature story

Once you have generated a feature story idea and worked with your editor to narrow it down to a manageable focus, it’s time to conduct research and run interviews as you would for a hard news story. Then, after refocusing your thinking, and perhaps the story angle, begin organizing and writing your story. As always, carefully consider your situation and what your audience needs.

The Pyramid Structure

What percent of adults get their news on social media, according to Pew Research?

The survey found that more than 50 percent of US adults now get their news on social media

PowerPoint-presentation: Hard News Story Structure

What is the hard new story structure?

Reporters write hard news stories by placing the essential facts in the lead and the details in the succeeding paragraphs.

Who’s their target?

Serves time-crunched audiences

PowerPoint-presentation: Feature Stories

Give some examples of feature stories:

  • Leisurely and descriptive
  • Entertaining
  • Evergreen

PowerPoint-presentation: Hard News Shift

What changed?

  • Often written in feature story format
  • Making news writing more creative than a generation ago.

PowerPoint-presentation: Multiplatform Environment

What does multiplatform environment mean?

  • Produce print, video, audio versions of stories simultaneously.
  • Write copy for video and audio stories.
  • Shoot and edit photographs.
  • Record and edit video and audio.

PowerPoint-presentation: Multiplatform story

–       Newspapers today >> online entities supplemented by print edition.

–       50% adults get news on social media.

Pew Research Center, 2016

PowerPoint-presentation: Going Digital

What is going on?

  • Actually benefited newspapers
  • Reach audiences differently
  • Increasing circulation
  • Increasing advertising revenue
  • Allows for the multiplatform story

PowerPoint-presentation: Best PracticesOnline Editions

What are the best practices of online editions?

  • Adapting hard news writing styles.
    • Match the way people read online content
  • Write a summary lead
    • Summarize essential news elements
  • Inverted pyramid story structure
    • Arrange the story in descending order of importance.
  • Provide a clear nut graph
    • Tells the reader “in a nutshell” what the story is about/why it is news.
  • Use short sentences
    • Vary length and structure
  • Place attributes for quotes at the end of sentences.
  • Place key details high up in the story.
    • First four paragraphs most frequently read.
  • Place key details high up in the story.
    • First four paragraphs most frequently read.
  • Place video, audio, and social media screen captures in stories with short captions.
    • Not referred to in story itself.

PowerPoint-presentation:Write for Converged Media

What examined the 2014 Poynter Institute study?

  • Forty-six percent journalists said ability to edit video important
  • Fifty-three percent said shooting/editing photos important
  • Thirty-eight said ability to record and edit audio important

PowerPoint-presentation: The News Lead

How do you get a lead?

  • All stories begin with the lead—a sentence to explain the essential facts of the story for the reader
  • Most important part of the story—and the most difficult
  • Groundwork for the rest of the story
  • Context

PowerPoint-presentation: Summary Lead Building Blocks

Give a summary lead building blocks:

  • Six situational news values
    • Impact
    • Proximity
    • Timeliness
    • Conflict
    • Prominence
    • Oddity/novelty
  • 5 Ws and H topic points

PowerPoint-presentation: Building Blocks

What do you have to keep in mind when you are building blocks?

  • Which are essential to your audience andthe situation?
  • Determine most significant to report first, and then next in sequence

PowerPoint-presentation: Applying the Professional Strategy Triangle to the Lead

Situation and audience determine which elements to stress in lead

PowerPoint-presentation: Lead Writing Guidelines

Give some guidelines of lead writing:

  1. Use subject-verb-object sentence structure
  2. Lead with the news
  3. Use strong, active verbs
  4. Remain objective

PowerPoint-presentation: Inverted Pyramid

Explain the inverted pyramid:

  • Takes mental strategy to sift through facts and prioritize
  • Simple story structure that serves reader
  • Arrange story elements in descending order of importance
  • Lead = most newsworthy facts
  • Second and third paragraphs continue next most important/elaborate
  • Runs too long, easily trimmed from bottom without sacrificing main idea
  • Do not end with conclusion. Rather, trail off to less significant facts and details
  • The conclusion is in the lead

PowerPoint-presentation: Other Feature Story Structures

–       Problem solution

–       Repetitive

–       Catalog

PowerPoint-presentation: Quotations

–       Connect statements of fact and opinion to their sources

–       Lend balance to news stories

–       Enable readers to make judgments about the credibility of story

–       Take readers inside the story, relating to those quoted

–       Add color and emotion to your writing

–       Provide necessary counterpoints to your narrative

–       Break up text and create rhythm

PowerPoint-presentation: Types of Quotes

What are the types of quotes?

  • Direct
  • Indirect
  • Partial

PowerPoint-presentation: Attribution

–       Tells readers who the sources of your information are

–       Enables them to judge the credibility of your story

–       Avoids the perception that statements are based on your perceptions

Give the handling for attribution:

  • Always provide attribution for:
  • Direct and indirect quotes
  • Statements of opinion
  • Statements about controversial issues
  • Facts that are not well established
  • tribute information to people, documents, or publications
    • Not places or organizations
  • Attribute information as early as possible in the quote
  • Attribute often enough so readers can tie information to the correct sources
  • Identify sources properly
  • Use saidas the verb of attribution

PowerPoint-presentation: Pro Strategy Connection -Kelly Boldan

Explain the pro strategy connection:

  1. Get off your butt and write, write, write.
  2. Read and emulate the work of professional journalists who are doing the best in the field.
  3. Proofread on paper.
  4. Accept that another set of eyes on your work will always pick up something you failed to notice.
  5. Get out of the library/classroom and do something outside your normal range of experience.

PowerPoint-presentation: Writing the Feature Story

How do you read the feature story?

  • Focus on human interest topics
    • Entertainment
    • Ironic situations
    • Personalities
    • Animals
    • Cultural events
  • May not always rely upon six situational news values.

PowerPoint-presentation: Features

–       Humanize the news

–       Draw upon techniques used by fiction writers

Plot, dialogue, characterization, description, anecdotes, sensory details.

–       Yet still remain objective, report the facts, quote accurately, verify

PowerPoint-presentation: Feature Story Categories

Which feature story categories are there?

  • Historical or commemorative
  • Personality profile
  • Explanatory
  • How-to-do-it
  • Participatory
  • Travel or adventure
  • Odd occupation
  • First-person
  • Medical
  • Business

PowerPoint-presentation: Types of Feature Leads

Which types of feature leads are there?

  • Delayed lead
  • Descriptive lead
  • Ironic lead
  • Direct address lead
  • Quotation lead
  • Question lead

What is delayed lead?

Postpones identifying the person, place or event addressed in the story

What is descriptive lead?

Describes a person, setting, or situation with verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to paint a picture.

What is ironic lead?

Builds on twists of fate

What is direct address lead?

  • Reaches out to readers and speaks to them using a second person ( you) voice
  • Conversational and can grab attention

What is quotation lead?

Quickly introduce the reader to the main story character

What is question lead?

  • Can grab attention
  • Can be risky