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Journalistic Writing

QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITING:Achieve appropriate readability:

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Journalistic Writing ­ MCM310
VU
LECTURE 4
QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITING
"Anyone who wishes to produce a good writing should endeavor, before he allows himself to be tempted by
the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid."
H. W Fowler/The King's English further sys:
Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.
Prefer the short word to the long.
Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.
"The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves
no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb what carries the same meanings that is
already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what ­ these are
thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a message." William Zinsser/On Writing Well
Our success as journalists depends largely on how well we communicate with our readers. Good writing can
help you do that. Whatever is your writing task- publication, newspaper column, article, feature, report or
program announcement- these guidelines can help you get the results you want. Before you begin:
·
Decide on your message. Jot down a single sentence describing what you want to say to your
readers. Limit yourself to no more than two or three main ideas.
·
Know your audience. Who are they? What do they know? What are their attitudes?
·
Define your purpose. What is it you're trying to accomplish-to inform, persuade, or motivate?
Keep your message, audience and purpose in mind as you write. This will help you choose the words that best
convey your thoughts, communicate with your readers, and set the correct tone for your purpose. In good
writing, one size does not fit all!
Goes without saying, good writing expresses a clear point, is tightly structured, grammatically and syntactically
correct, substantive, and interesting.
To express a clear point means to convey the writer's main idea or--in the case of descriptive writing--the
significance of the object, place or person described; in other words, an attentive reader should be able to grasp
the writer's purpose.
To be tightly structured, writing should contain logical or associative connections and transitions which
clearly express the relationship of the ideas described.
To be grammatically and syntactically correct, writing should adhere to the rules of Standard American
English, including proper punctuation and spelling. If writers choose to use unconventional syntax, they should
be able to justify their choices.
To be substantive, writing should convey the impression that the writer is informed about the subject. The
writer need not be an authority on the subject but should demonstrate awareness of its significance and its
implications within a specified context. Informed writing might include any or all of the following: citations of
authorities; experiential evidence; discussion of debatable issues related to it, and relevant questions it raises.
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Journalistic Writing ­ MCM310
VU
To be interesting, writing should engage its readers through original insights and precise, uncliched language
expressed in a "human" voice. It should demonstrate the writer's awareness of the specific audience for whom
she or he is writing (the audience's degree of knowledge of the subject as well as its age, ethnic background,
gender, and assumptions).
Moreover, the general characteristics of good writing are, clarity completeness, conciseness, creativity,
consideration, correctness, credibility, courtesy, and concreteness.
1. Be clear: have a definite purpose for writing and make sure it is clearly communicated up front. Be
bold and connect quickly. In the midst of the typhoon we needed to be clear on our commands or risk
adverse reactions to the sea. Check:
1. Choose short, familiar conversational words.
2. Construct effective sentences and paragraphs
3. Achieve appropriate readability
4. Include examples, illustrations, and other visual aids, when desirable.
CHOOSE SHORT, FAMILIAR CONVERSATIONAL WORDS.
FAMILIAR
PRETENTIOUS
About
Circa
After
Subsequent
Announce
Promulgate
Error
Inadvertency
For example
e.g.
Home; house
Domicile
Pay
Remuneration
That is
i.e.
use
Utilization
Before: After our perusal of pertinent data the conclusion is that a lucrative market exists for the
subject property.
After: The data we studied show that your property is profitable and in high demand.
CONSTRUCT EFFECTIVE SENTENCES AND PARAGRAPHS
Length:
ASL: 17 to 20 words.
Range: 3 to 30 words or more
Unity:
"I like Tom, and the Eiffel Tower is in Paris." (Incorrect, no unity)
Coherence:
1. Before:
"Being an excellent lawyer, I'm sure you can help us."
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Journalistic Writing ­ MCM310
VU
After:
As you are an excellent lawyer, I am sure you can help us.
Or
Being an excellent lawyer, you can surely help us.
2. Before:
"His report was about managers, broken down by age and sex."
After:
His report focused on age and sex of managers.
Or
His report about managers focused on their age and sex.
Emphasis:
Before: "The airplane finally approached the speed of sound and it became very difficult to control."
After: As it finally approached the speed of sound, the airplane became very difficult to control.
Achieve appropriate readability:
1. Fog Index Guide:
Invented by Robert Gunning in 1952
Gives the US school grade necessary for comprehension of text.
Calculated by adding together the average number of words per sentence and percentage of words of
with more than three syllables, and then multiplying the sum by 0.4.words
Scale runs from 6 to 16. If above 12, the text will be difficult to read.
2. SMOG Index:
Stands for `Simple Measure of Gobbledygook'
Calculated by multiplying the total number of words in text by 30, dividing the result by the number of
sentences, taking the square root of the result and multiplying it by 3
3. Flesch Index:
Designed for adult texts
Calculated by:
-
Calculating the average number of words per sentence.
-
Multiplying by 1.01.
-
Subtracting the result from 206.8, giving Result 1.
-
Calculating the number of syllables per hundred words.
-
Multiplying by 0.846, giving Results 2.
-
Subtracting Result 2 from Result 1, giving the Flesch Index.
Scale runs from 0 to 100 with increasing ease of readability.
Standard writing is described as 17 words per sentence and 147 syllables per hundred
words, with a resulting index of 64.
4. PSK (Power-Sumer-Kearl) Index:
Designed for primary school texts
Calculated by finding the average number of words per sentence and multiplying by 0.0778, finding the
number of syllables per hundred words and multiplying that by 2.029, and then adding the two results
together
5. Sticht Index:
Designed by US Army to test functional literacy
Calculate the ratio of single syllable words to total words, multiplying that ratio by 15, and subtracting the
result from 20.
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Journalistic Writing ­ MCM310
VU
Before:
The fact that all organic and inorganic entities and artifacts go through, on this planet at least, cycles of
change and decay is a well established and integral feature of life. The level of integration of this fact into
human culture is total, encompassing and influencing religion, philosophy, psychiatry, economics and
marketing and many other areas of our lives. One numerate view of the failure patterns associated with this
cycle of change is shown by the bath tub curve. While not presuming to be all encompassing this view of the
failure patterns does coincide with significant areas of experience and evidence for both plant, equipment and
human beings.
Totals: Words = 107
Sentences = 4
Syllables = 187
Words with more than three syllables = 11
FOG Index
= 14.81
SMOG Index
= 84.99
Flesch Index
= 31.8
After:
The fact that all organic and inorganic entities and artifacts go through, on this planet at least, cycles of
change and decay is a well known feature of life. This fact also influences many aspects of our lies including
religion, philosophy, psychiatry, economics and marketing. One view of the pattern of change and failure is
shown by the bath tub curve. Whilst this does not represent all types of failure, it does agree with much of the
evidence for both plant, equipment and human begins.
Totals: Words = 85
Sentences = 4
Syllables = 131
Words with more than three syllables = 5
FOG Index
= 10.85
SMOG Index
= 75.75
Flesch Index
= 54.85
Include examples, illuting ons, and other visual aids, when desirable:
Examples, analogies and illustrations add pictures to your writing.
Visual aids like headlines, tabulations, itemization, pictures, charts etc. make your writing easy to go
through.
Underline, number, color, or type in all CAPITALS or italics or use wide margins adds emphasis to
your text.
Source:
http://www.canadaone.com/ezine/nov02/effective_writing.html
http://abcopayroll.com/news/200610sevencs.php
http://www.writingcenter.emory.edu/goodwrite.html
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION TO JOURNALISTIC WRITING:Practical, THINGS TO KNOW
  2. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITERS
  3. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITERS
  4. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITING:Achieve appropriate readability:
  5. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITING:Be concise, Be creative, Be correct
  6. THE PROCESS OF WRITING:INVENTION, WHEN YOU START TO WRITE
  7. THE PROCESS OF WRITING II:ORGANIZING, DRAFTING, REVISING
  8. ALL ABOUT WORDS:HOW WORDS ARE FORMED?:SUFFIXES
  9. DICTIONARY-A WRITER’S LANGUAGE TOOL:KINDS OF INFORMATION
  10. PARTS OF SPEECH:Noun Gender, Noun Plurals, Countable Nouns
  11. BASIC CLAUSE PATTERNS
  12. ACTIVE AND PASSSIVE VOICE
  13. MODIFIERS AND SENTENCE TYPES:COMPOUND SENTENCES
  14. REPORTED SPEECH:Indirect Questions, Direct commands
  15. GRAMMATICAL SENTENCE – ISSUES:SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT
  16. GRAMMATICAL SENTENCE – ISSUES II:SENTENCE FRAGMENTS
  17. EFFECTIVE SENTENCE:PARALLELISM, NEEDED WORDS, SHIFTS
  18. STYLE: GUIDELINE AND PITFALLS I:COLLOQUIAL VS FORMAL, CIRCUMLOCUTION
  19. STYLE: GUIDELINE AND PITFALLS II:AMBIGUITY, REDUNDANCY, EUPHEMISM:
  20. PARAGRAPH WRITING: TYPES AND TECHNIQUES:STRUCTURE
  21. PARAGRAPH WRITING: TYPES AND TECHNIQUES:Putting on Our Play
  22. ESSAY WRITING:VARIOUS STRATEGIES FOR ESSAYS, PROMPTS
  23. SIGNAL WORDS:Non word Emphasis Signals
  24. EXPOSITORY WRITING:LOGICAL FALLACIES, APPEAL TO EMOTION
  25. THE WRITING STYLES: REPORT and NARRATIVE WRITING, SHORT REPORTS
  26. THE WRITING STYLES: DESCRIPTIVE AND PERSUASIVE WRITINGS, Observation
  27. RESEARCH WRITING AND DOCUMNETING SOURCES:Handling Long Quotations
  28. Summary and Précis Writing:CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD SUMMARY
  29. Punctuation:THE PERIOD, THE COMMA, THE SEMICOLON, THE COLON
  30. MECHANICS:ABBREVIATIONS, NUMBERS, SPELLING, THE HYPHEN
  31. READING SKILLS FOR WRITERS:EDUCATED READING, STEPS
  32. PARTS OF A NEWSPAPER:Box-out, By-line, Caption, Exclusive, Feature
  33. THE LANGUAGE OF THE NEWSPAPERS II:BROADSHEET NEWSPAPER
  34. News Writing and Style I:WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A NEWSPAPER
  35. NEWS WRITING II:Accuracy, Clarity, Style, Qualities of Effective Leads
  36. EDITORIAL WRITING:WRITING AN EDITORIAL:STRUCTURING AN EDITORIAL
  37. WRITING FEATURES:GENERATING FEATURE STORY IDEAS
  38. WRITING COLUMNS:Column and a news report, Purpose, Audience
  39. WRITING ARTICLES FOR NEWSPAPERS:The Heading, The Lead
  40. WRITING ANALYSIS:purpose, scope, method, results, recommendations
  41. LETTERS TO EDITORS:Four important aspects about letters, Organizing letters
  42. BROADCAST AND WEB NEWS WRITING:WRITE CONCISELY, BROADCAST STYLE
  43. WRITING PRESS RELEASE, REVIEWS AND OBITUARIES:Summary of Content:
  44. THE ART OF INTERVIEWINGS
  45. FINAL THOUGHTS:Practical, Job-Related, Social, Stimulating, Therapeutic