From personal experience it is hard if not impossible, for humanities graduates wanting to venture into journalism to get into the habit of saying something in the simplest way possible. At Midlands State University, I spend a lot of time telling students to write in the way that they would speak when talking to a friend over the mobile phone. In journalism prospective or aspiring journalist must avoid using the worst kind of words that are difficult to understand or with dual meanings.
If one is a journalist, he can compare the version of the stories they submit with what appears in the paper. The News room editor will have made them concise without missing any of the important points;
Use the shortest form of the verb
Prospective journalist must work out what is happening and make sure that they use one verb to express their views. McKane (2006:107) said that one must avoid using present perfect when constructing a sentence with one verb. For example;
Leonora promised to look into the........
McKane (2006) says that this is more direct, punchier and save space
Avoid unnecessary extra verbs
In news writing there is need to avoid using more verbs than necessary. A news writer should make a plan to avoid such common mistakes, for example;
Caven suffered a car accident which left three dead from the spot....
Can be simple be
Caven car accident claimed three lives from the spot
Watch out for meaningless words
There are some words that can be left out or be used in a sentence which sometimes are never needed. The most common of these is “currently”.
Again McKane (2006:107) state that if something is in the present tense, it follows that is going on currently. If for some reasons you have to stress when it is happening, 'now 'is shorter and more directly than currently. For instance;
Caven is currently lecturing at Midlands State University......
Can be simple be written as
Caven is lecturing at Midlands State University
However, there are words that are often used by people in conversations verbal or in written. In English these words are really, actually, is that so, surely, basically and in fact. In spoken English these words are used to emphasize an important point by the speaker. Before writing any of these words consider whether they are necessary; what do they add to the meaning of the sentence (McKane 2006)
Beware of lengthy substitute words for said
In journalism the word “Said” is a powerful verb that can be used throughout. The fact in journalism and news writing is that readers skim news stories quickly by looking for the live ideas of interest. Sticking to the verb 'said' is much better that using terms like note, claimed, explained, argued, state, commented, which are naff.
Avoid using jargon
Jargon is a term used to refer to the specialized phrases and words associated with certain occupations such as Lawyers, Policeman, Soldiers, Pharmacist, Journalist, Doctors and so forth. At times Jargon is misused to mean slang which is not correct.
Write in full unfamiliar abbreviations
Abbreviation are words used in place of something and are usually given in short. Abbreviations are sometimes called 'Acronomy'. In Zimbabweabbreviation such as ZESA, TM, CBZ, ZOU, ECONET, ZRP, UZ, NUST, MSU, NRZ are common and known by everyone. In journalism such abbreviations can be given as they are because they are familiar to most people. There are some that are not familiar to the readers especially for new organizations and shops. Journalist must write in full such names and then in brackets give their abbreviations for clarity seek. Mind you that the main reason for news writing apart from educating, informing, and entertaining the public is to communicate.
Use Concise, everyday words and phrases
McKane (2006:110) listed common phrases or words that can be used by journalist in their day to day business of manufacturing news. Many of these phrases that follow are taken from council documents, where it is common to find two or three words when one would do. McKane (2006) said that is is worth reading these through many times, and eventually, if you see the phrase in an attempt to you automatically substitute;
Additional funding more money
Ahead of before
A small number few
A sufficient number enough
Advanced planning planning
At a later date Later
At this point in time now
An all time recorder a recorder
AM this mournig this mourning
All of a sudden suddenly
Admitted to admitted
At the price of costing
At present time at present, now
Budgetary allocation money, spending
Companies in the private sector private firms
Completely monopoly monopoly
Completely destroyed destroyed
Convicted on charges of convicted of
Council house residents council tenants
Despite the fact that although
Due to the fact that because
Domestic premise homes
End result end or result
Economically disadvantaged poor
Everyone on the electoral roll voters
Expenditure spending or cost
Finally ended ended
First began began
Free gift gift
For the benefit of for
Forensic medical officer police doctor
Granted bail bailed
Gave birth to a baby boy gave birth to a boy
Have an impact on affect
Hold talks with talk to
Implement carry out
Reach a decision decided
Reach an agreement agreed
Retail outlet shops
Sent to jail jailed
Sufficient capital enough money
The purchase of buying
Take into custody arrest
Absolutism: the ethical philosophy that there is a fixed set of principles or laws from which there is no deviation. To the absolutist journalist the end never justifies the means
Anecdotal lead: A newspaper story beginning that uses humor or an interesting incident
Angle: The focus of, or approach to a story.
Antinomianism: The ethical philosophy that recognizes no rules. An Antinomian journalist judges every ethical situation on its own merits. Unlike ethicist, the antinomian does not use love of neighbor as an absolute.
Background: Information that may be attributed to a source by title, but not by name eg “white House aide”,said
Byline: A line identifying the author of a story
Cub: a beginning reporter
House style: The art of writing for a particular media house which is distinct from the rest eg Alpha media vs Public
Hard lead: A lead that reports a new development or newly discovered fact
Invasion of privacy: Violating of a person's right to be left alone
Inverted Pyramid: The organization of a news story in which information is arranged in descending order of importance
Soft lead: A Lead that uses a quote, anecdote or other literary device to attract the reader
Layout: The completed page drawing, or dummy
Lead story: The major story displayed at the top of page one
Morgue: The newspaper library, where published stories, photographs and resources material are stored for reference
News room: The place, sometimes called the “city room”, where reporters and editors work
News Value: How important or interesting a story tend to be
Off the record: Usually means “Do not quote me”. Some sources and reporter however, use it to mean, “Don't print this.
Payol: Money or gifts given in the expectation of favours from journalist
Plagiarism: The use of any part of another's writing and passing it off as your own
Profile: A story intended to reveal the personality or character of an institution or person
Scoop: An exclusive story
Slug: Is a word or combination of words and numbers appearing at the start of a stories to identify each one and, where necessary, establish links with related stories.
Sniff: The preliminary phase of an investigationEnter your article or leave this space empty and directly add your picture, video or your widget.
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