doubleshot media

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In news and business reports – write what DID happen – not what DIDN’T

If you are a journalism student or someone who writes reports for other industries I encourage you to:

1.learn to report your news or information responsibly AND

2.learn how to make your writing more interesting and engaging

The post was inspired by a US  news headline :

No one injured in X Robbery

(I am deliberately not revealing the X –  only to say it is the name of a store)

I can’t believe this headline  “got through” the editing process.

The old editors I worked for would have kicked my butt if I wrote something like that!

Slide3

I made lots of mistakes in my early years – but I learned from them.

The headline could easily be tweaked to be more engaging (yet still accurate)

I remember great lessons from various “crusty but benign” news bosses and editors.

The same tips apply to other industry “reporting” as well as in journalism.

RULE NUMBER ONE:  

Say what DID happen – not what didn’t happen

Instead of

No one injured in X Robbery

try:

Shoppers Escape Robbery Uninjured

(or Workers Escape – depending on the facts)

The way the headline is written 0 there is no reason to read the story. “Nothing dramatic happened”

If these words are accurate – you could also spice up the story:

Daring Escape or Lucky Escape or Dramatic Escape from Robbery

This basic journalism lesson was wonderfully illustrated in the movie  based on the novel The Shipping News:

the shipping news

The dialogue went like this: (source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120824/quotes) (MY COMMENTS ARE IN BRACKETS)

Billy: It’s finding the center of your story, the beating heart of it, that’s what makes a reporter. You have to start by making up some headlines. You know: short, punchy, dramatic headlines. Now, have a look, what do you see?

[Points at dark clouds at the horizon]

Billy: Tell me the headline.

Quoyle: Horizon Fills With Dark Clouds?

Billy: Imminent Storm Threatens Village.  (FULL OF DRAMATIC WORDS)

Quoyle: But what if no storm comes?

Billy: Village Spared From Deadly Storm.               (DRAMATIC WORDS + WHAT DID HAPPEN + THE VILLAGE AND VILLAGES (THE PAPER READERS) ARE THE BEATING HEART AND CENTRE OF THE STORY)

So,  instead of saying Storm Didn’t Damage Village or No Damage from Storm (what didn’t happen) – you’d write, as suggested by The Shipping News:

Village Spared From Storm. (what did happen)

Instead of:

No one injured in Robbery

something like:

Shoppers Escape Robbery Uninjured 

That way:

Reporter Escapes Fury of Angry Editor

————————-

I’m still a “journalism junkie” and I’d love to share the great journalism lessons my teachers taught me.

TB UMC

I studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia in the United States and  then worked as a TV reporter for 15 years.

I now use those journalism skills to  help journalism students and beginning journalists and  writers from other industries make their information more exciting and readable.

The positive side of being a word nerd

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.

Twitter 

https://twitter.com/tonybiancotti

tony biancotti

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can click to follow this blog.

Cheers,

Tony

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