Journalism reflects the values of our culture. Unfortunately, it has been infiltrated by some who prefer hype to honesty. We live in a time when it is better to look good than to be good. Janet Kolodzy is a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. She has worked at the Cleveland Plain Dealer and at CNN.
For a list of various reason our traditional media has failed in being a responsible fifth estate or with the increased use of the internet has been exposed. You decide.
Every once in awhile I go back to school: I read up on the basics of writing a good story or essay. Here are some of the lessons I've recently learned, courtesy of the Columbia School of Journalism's site, journalism.org, and csmonitor.com:
- Organize your material: Put it in a rough sequence, in an order that will be sensible and engaging to the audience
- Write the first draft quickly, then go back and self-edit
- Ask 'who cares?' about every sentence, and be ruthless excising extraneous material
- Be original: A different spin, original research or investigation, an interview or first-hand account, a personal photo, a chart -- all of these can add enormous value and readibility
- Never make anything up, even if it's plausible
- If something from one source is suspicious, check another source
- Always credit your sources
- Don't let pressure to produce compromise the quality of your work
Use the title, first sentence and (if the article is long or complex) a two to three sentence abstract up-front to both inform and draw in your audience
Close with a memorable sentence