Write Like A Journalist

Writing like a journalist means economizing on words and being specific with facts. Space is at a premium in publications, so limit your words. Further, details are necessary in reporting facts.

These are some examples on how to economize on words:

1) Wordy: At this point in time, investors should consider both their short-term and long-term goals.

Better: Currently, investors should consider short and long-term goals.

2) Wordy: According to John James, investors should consider buying shares of companies that have a lot of cash on hand, have little debt, and that offer good dividend payouts.

Better: John James said investors should consider companies rich in cash, with little debt, offering good dividends.

3) Wordy: At his job, he functions in an environment that is very high pressure.

Better: His office is a pressure-cooker.

4) Wordy: They were both born in the year 1929 in the city of Chicago, Illinois.

Better: They were born in 1929 in Chicago.

5) Wordy: He works as a psychologist as well as an attorney.

Better: He is a psychologist and attorney.

Next, let’s consider examples that illustrate the need to be specific.

1) Vague: He was born around the turn of the century.

Specific: He was born May 30, 2000.

2) Vague: Within a short period of time, the couple married.

Specific: In August, the couple married.

3) Vague: He was driving over the speed limit.

Specific: He was driving 50 in a 35 mph zone.

4) Vague: The survey was taken earlier this month.

Specific: The survey was taken July 1 and 2.

5) Vague: There were a large number of people registered for the event, but only 50 people actually attended.

Specific: There were 75 people registered for the event, but 50 attended.

Just when you think you’ve finished economizing on words, you’ll discover you could have cut back further. You can write tight, by letting your article sit for a day or so, and then you can look at it again with fresh eyes. And, don’t be lazy about reporting all the facts. Your readers can tell when you’ve cut corners.

For more help, check out my books. They are: Beginners’ Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features and You Can Be A Columnist.

Copyright 2014 by Charlotte Digregorio.

Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features

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About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. I am also the author of five non-fiction books: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; and Your Original Personal Ad. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I have signed books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores. I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. I have won thirty-three poetry awards. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I am an internationally-published haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, haibun, free verse, acrostic, cinquain, etheree, and sestina poet. My poetry has been translated into six languages, and I have done poetry readings at a variety of bookstores, libraries, art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. My poetry has been displayed at supermarkets, art galleries, libraries, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I've been interviewed on cable television about my poetry. I also hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I was also self-employed as a communications/public relations/marketing consultant with 111 clients in 16 states. In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give special lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and to those at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and to libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America. Currently, I am Second Vice President of the Haiku Society.
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