Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Whimsical Wednesdays...journalism.

I have briefly mentioned in passing that I'm currently employed as a journalist, a freelance writer for four newspapers. However, I haven't really talked about it much here on my blog and so that's what today's Whimsical Wednesday post is going to be focused on.

Journalists often gets a bad rap, but not all of them should. Journalism is tough. Not all journalists write yellow journalism and are unethical. And most of them aren't as stupid as this cartoon suggests. But it does make me laugh.

It is unlike any other writing I've ever done. It's not the time to show off your spectacular vocabulary. It's not the time to dive deep into your own thoughts and feelings and explore your own beliefs. 

Journalism is the time to be concise with your writing. Short, simple, and straight to the point. As my Dad says, "Journalism writing isn't supposed to be like Joyce. Make your writing more like Hemingway." (My dad kindly edits all my articles.)

Short and concise doesn't mean that you don't need to have a firm understanding of the English language and rhetoric, because you do. You need to be able to use literary tools such as variation in syntax (sentence lengths) to drive your point and control the pacing of an article.  The masters of journalism know when to speed up the pacing or slow it down just through their word choice, punctuation, and sentence lengths.

Journalism is all about hooking your reader in the first line and getting them to read past the first paragraph.

Your job is to inform the public about an event, an issue, or simply highlight the life of an amazing individual. It's about overcoming your fears and talking to people from all walks of life about various topics. It's about getting inside the head of a different individual and sharing their story in a way that's relatable to somebody who has a completely different lifestyle. It's about presenting information in a way that is both informative and entertaining.

None of that is an easy feat. Journalism a difficult puzzle to piece together. Good journalistic writing is all about the research, the presentation, and the execution.
It's Friday night at seven fifty pm and you get a call saying can you cover this story at eight. You quickly go take pictures and scribble frantic notes, quickly conduct interviews with your tape recorder and you scribbling notes. Rush home, bust out the first draft, edit, edit and then  two hours later it's time to submit it. You click send and that's it. Your article will be in print soon and the cycle repeats itself.

Journalism is high-energy, fast-paced, and a rush. I've been privileged to view events and people from an entirely new light through this job. Journalism is tough, but it's a thrill. It's writing and any opportunity I have to write, I'll take.

That's my post on journalism. It's not novel writing or reading, but I hope that maybe that will give you a deeper appreciation for journalism.

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