Your writing tips ?? and a reporting tip – Poynter

Before I get into today’s headlines, I wanted to pass on to you some of the best writing tips you’ve ever received or given. Here are some first answers.

From Paul Janensch:

As editor-in-chief of four newspapers and associate professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University, here are some of the writing tips I’ve given to journalists and students:

  1. Think first. What’s the story? Do I have all the information I need?
  2. Notice an outline. Just a few words: the opening, the goals to hit, the kicker at the end.
  3. Don’t start at the beginning. Start with what’s important. With a feature, the top can be an anecdote or a surprising statement. But then get straight to the point.
  4. KISS: Keep it short and simple. Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, a short piece.
  5. When you’re done, you’re not done. Go through it carefully. Is it correct ? Is it crystal clear? What is missing ? What can be deleted? What should be reformulated?


From Tom Stites, President of the Banyan Project:

The best advice I ever received came from Ray Lyle, my first city editor, when I was a summer intern at the Kansas City Star: “The news is what happened; talking is not expensive. ”

That was a long time ago, not only before the Internet, but also before cable news, and now we live in a news world that is miles around. This makes Lyle’s adage even more important now than it was when I first heard it.


From former NPR ombud Alicia “Lisa” Shepard:

  1. Write as you speak; write in a conversational way.
  2. Put me there, show me = show, don’t tell.
  3. White space is your friend. Vary the length of the sentences. MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) occurs with huge type blocks.
  4. Create a little mystery in the lead that makes the reader want to move on. String of beads throughout the piece. Don’t give everything at the start.
  5. Include the name of the dog or the type of car a person drives; they both tell you something about the person.
  6. If you read something that you like, separate it, analyze it. Why is it so good. Why do you want to keep reading?
  7. Read your copy aloud. Always. If it’s difficult for you, the writer, you can bet it will be for the reader.


From Pete Skiba:

OKAY. I know it’s not about writing, but without reporting you can’t write non-fiction. My journalism professor at Rutgers, Jim Moffatt of the Philadelphia Inquirer, has always said, “Leave the truth to the philosophers; Give me the facts. “


From John Robinson, former editor of News & Record in Greensboro, NC:

  1. The best writing is in rewriting.
  2. The key to good writing is better and deeper reports.

Robinson says many of the best writing tips came from Roy Peter Clark of Poynter, especially his “Fifty Writing Tools”. My favorites from this list include “Activate your verbs” (No. 3), “Look at those adverbs” (No. 5) and “Build your work around a key question” (No. 31).


From Steve Padilla, veteran editor of the Los Angeles Times (including the Twitter thread is devoted to this subject):

Mark Twain once said, “Don’t say the lady cried. Bring her in and let her scream.


Let us know your favorite writing tips; email me at [email protected] and I’ll share a few more in the next few days.

Now, on the stories that may affect you today:

Quick shots

COX TO MERGE? PARTNER? TO SELL?: Cox Enterprises says it is considering strategic options for its 14 television stations, which reach 31 million people in nine states. The news comes as the FCC has requested a review of a major merger – Sinclair Broadcasting with the broadcast properties of Tribune.

THE SMALL THINGS: This is what helps the survivors of Capital Gazette in their new temporary office. Journalist Danielle Ohl describes one of those moments, which may seem trivial to others. But these days, four weeks after the mass shooting, “It’s so heartwarming for people to come out of the kitchen and be like, ‘I’m going to make a pot, will everyone drink it? “By Kristen Hare from Poynter.

THE MOGUL DU MAINE: Reade Brower, owner of six of the state’s seven dailies, will have 19 weeklies with the takeover, announced Wednesday, of The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. Terms of the sale, which closes August 31, were not disclosed. Here is my take on May Brower.

DIGITAL DIRECTION: Troy Young, who has led Hearst Magazine’s digital operations for five years, has been appointed to lead Hearst Magazines. This branch of the company has more than 300 print editions and 240 digital brands, reports Adweek.

DO NOT SELL: Billionaire John Henry Says He’s Not Selling The Boston Globe Despite Continuing Losses. Having said that, he expressed real frustration in an email to Dan Kennedy of WGBH: “The Globe never seems to be able to stay on budget, either on the income side or on the expense side and I am not going to continue like this. It has always been a matter of sustainability rather than large and endless annual losses. It’s frustrating and due to a combination of mismanagement and a tough industry. “

APPOINTED: The Associated Press’s Gerry Shih joins the Washington Post as new correspondent in China. … WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti and NPR media reporter David Folkenflik will share the duties of hosting NPR’s two-hour talk show On Point on weekdays; Chakrabarti will host from Monday to Thursday and Folkenflik on Friday. … Sue Morrow, deputy director of multimedia for the Sacramento Bee, will become editor-in-chief of NPPA’s News Photographer magazine.

NEW MEDIA, NEW RULES? : TheSkimm launched a campaign to get 100,000 women to vote in November. The digital and newsletter giant says it was prompted by a survey it commissioned, indicating that 73% of millennials are dissatisfied with the country’s leadership, but only 46% are “absolutely certain “that they will vote in November.

What we read

ABANDONED ON THE BATTLEFIELD: They fought alongside US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting terrorists. They were promised American visas for their work. The Trump administration is breaking its promises, writes The Atlantic’s Priscilla Alvarez.

WHAT CASES OF HOMICIDE ARE RESOLVED?: In Boston, cases involving white victims were resolved twice as fast as black victims, reports the Washington Post. This is the largest racial disparity found in data from 52 of the largest US cities. Here is the story.


Want this briefing delivered to your inbox every morning of the week? Register here.

A tip, a link, a suggestion? We try to improve this roundup every day. Please email me at [email protected] or @ me @dabeard.

Have a good Thursday.

Previous Valley News - Young Writers Project Releases Winter and Spring Writing Prompts
Next 15 writing prompts to start your school year with a little creative writing