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Journalistic Writing

WRITING PRESS RELEASE, REVIEWS AND OBITUARIES:Summary of Content:

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Journalistic Writing ­ MCM310
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LECTURE 43
WRITING PRESS RELEASE, REVIEWS AND OBITUARIES
PRESS RELEASE
Guide to Writing Successful Press Releases
Press Releases is all about developing a persuasive communication within the framework of a traditional news
story format.
Editors will quickly trash media releases that make promotional appearances. Instead, press release writers must
think like a reporter. Media releases must follow journalistic style in order to be given any kind of consideration.
How do you accomplish this task? Here's a barebones guideline.
1. The Headline: In about ten words -- or less -- you need to grab the attention of the editor. The
headline should summarize the information in the press release, but in a way that is exciting and
dynamic; think of it as a billboard along a highway -- you have just a few words to make your release
stand out among the many others editors receive on any given day.
2. Opening Paragraph: Sometimes called a summary lead, your first paragraph is critical. This paragraph
must explain "what, when, where" the story. This paragraph must summarize the press release, with
the following paragraphs providing the detail.
The opening paragraph must also contain the hook: the one thing that gets your audience interested in
reading more -- but remember that the hook has to be relevant to your audience as well as to the news
media. A hook is not a hard sell or a devious promotion -- it's just a factual statement.
3. The Body: Using a strategy called the inverted pyramid, the body of the press release should be written
with the most important information and quotes first. This inverted pyramid technique is used so that
if editors need to cut the story to fit space constraints, they can cut from the end without losing critical
information.
4. The Closing Paragraph: Repeat the critical contact information, including the name of the person,
his or her phone number and/or email address. About your company. Your press release should end
with a short paragraph (company boilerplate) that describes your company, products, service and a
short company history.
Press Release Tips and Guidelines:
Stick to the facts: Tell the truth. Avoid fluff, embellishments and exaggerations. If you feel that your press
release contains `Buy Me' means promotional material, it would be a good idea to set your press release aside
until you have more exciting news to share. Journalists are naturally skeptical. If your story sounds too good to
be true, you are probably hurting your own credibility. Even if it is true, you may want to tone it down a bit.
Present news content: Please make sure that you answer all of the "W" questions, who, what, where, when,
why and how to ensure a complete press release.
PR length: The standard press release is 300 to 800 words and written in a word processing program that
checks spelling and grammar before submission.
Headline length: The ideal headline is 80 characters long. (Max 170)
Lead length: The lead sentence contains the most important information in 25 words or less.
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Correct grammar usage: Always follow rules of grammar and style. Errors in grammar and style affect your
credibility. Excessive errors will cause your press release to be rejected by PR Web's editors.
Use active, not passive, voice: Verbs in the active voice bring your press release to life. Rather than writing
"entered into a partnership" use "partnered" instead. Do not be afraid to use strong verbs as well. For example,
"The committee exhibited severe hostility over the incident." reads better if changed to "The committee was
enraged over the incident." Writing in this manner, helps guarantee that your press release will be read.
Economics of words: Use only enough words to tell your story. Avoid using unnecessary adjectives, flowery
language, or redundant expressions such as "added bonus" or "first time ever". If you can tell your story with
fewer words, do it. Wordiness distracts from your story. Keep it concise. Make each word count.
Beware of jargon: While a limited amount of jargon will be required if your goal is to optimize your news
release for online search engines, the best way to communicate your news is to speak plainly, using ordinary
language. Jargon is language specific to certain professions or groups and is not appropriate for general
readership. Avoid such terms as "capacity planning techniques" "extrapolate" and "prioritized evaluative
procedures."
More than one paragraph; It is nearly impossible to tell your story in a few sentences. If you do not have
more than a few sentences, chances are you do not have a newsworthy item
Mixed case NEVER SUBMIT A PRESS RELEASE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS. This is very bad
form. Even if your release makes it, past PR Web's editors (most unlikely), it will definitely be ignored by
journalists. Use mixed case
Follow a Standard Press Release Format
Make sure your press release looks like a press release. The following can be used as a template for your press
release:
Headline Announces News in Title Case, Ideally Under 80 Characters
The summary paragraph is a little longer synopsis of the news, elaborating on the
news in the headline in one to four sentences. The summary uses sentence case, with
standard capitalization and punctuation.
City, State, Month 1, 2006 -- The lead sentence contains the most important information in 25
words or less. Grab your reader's attention here by simply stating the news you have to
announce. Do not assume that your reader has read your headline or summary paragraph; the
lead should stand on its own.
A news release, like a news story, keeps sentences and paragraphs short, about three or four
lines per paragraph. The first couple of paragraphs should answer the who, what, when,
where, why and how questions. The news media may take information from a news release to
craft news or feature article or may use information in the release word-for-word, but a news
release is not, itself, an article or a reprint.
The standard press release is 300 to 800 words and written in a word processing program that
checks spelling and grammar before submission. This template is 519 words.
The ideal headline is 80 characters long. Include the most important news elements in the
body of the release. Use title case in the headline only, capitalizing every word except for
prepositions and articles of three characters or less.
The rest of the news release expounds on the information provided in the lead paragraph. It
includes quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts. It contains more details
about the news you have to tell, which can be about something unique or controversial or
about a prominent person, place or thing.
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Typical topics for a news release include announcements of new products or of a strategic
partnership, the receipt of an award, the publishing of a book, the release of new software or
the launch of a new Web site. The tone is neutral and objective, not full of hype or text that is
typically found in an advertisement. Avoid directly addressing the consumer or your target
audience. The use of "I," "we" and "you" outside of a direct quotation is a flag that your copy
is an advertisement rather than a news release.
Do not include an e-mail address in the body of the release. The final paragraph of a
traditional news release contains the least newsworthy material.
In the last paragraph, include a short corporate backgrounder, or "boilerplate," about the
company or the person who is newsworthy before you list the contact person's name and
phone number.
Contact:
Mary Smith, director of public relations
XYZ Company
555-555-5555
WHAT IS A REVIEW?
A review is a critical evaluation of a text, event, object, or phenomenon. Reviews can consider books, articles,
entire genres or fields of literature, architecture, art, fashion, restaurants, policies, exhibitions, performances,
and many other forms.
Above all, a review makes an argument. The most important element of a review is that it is a commentary, not
a summary of the work. It allows you to enter into dialogue and discussion with the work's creator and with
other audiences. You can offer agreement or disagreement and identify where you find the work exemplary or
deficient in its knowledge, judgments, or organization. You should clearly state your opinion of the work in
question, and that statement will probably resemble other types of academic writing, with a thesis statement,
supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Typically, reviews are brief. In newspapers and academic journals, they rarely exceed 1000 words, although you
may encounter lengthier assignments and extended commentaries. In either case, reviews need to be succinct.
While they vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features:
·
(Content) First, a review gives the reader a concise summary of the content. This includes a relevant
description of the topic as well as its overall perspective, argument, or purpose.
·
(Style) Second, a review offers a brief overview of the style or things are said in the work.
·
(Assessment) Third, and more importantly, a review offers a critical assessment of the content. This
involves your reactions to the work under review: what strikes you as noteworthy, whether or not it
was effective or persuasive, and how it enhanced your understanding of the issues at hand.
·
(Conclusion) Finally, in addition to analyzing the work, a review often suggests whether or not the
audience would appreciate it.
Planning the review:
Let's say you want to write a review of a book. For this you need to collect the following information:
·
Bibliographical Data
·
Classification
·
Author and Author Purpose
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·  Subject Matter (theme)
·
Contents (development of the theme)
·
Style (the style is effective in conveying content, and pleasing to the reader?)
·
View of Life (author's stance, practical or impractical , realistic, idealistic,
·
Value and Significance
·
Format
Writing the review:
Once you have made your observations and assessments of the work under review, carefully survey your notes
and attempt to unify your impressions into a statement that will describe the purpose or thesis of your review.
Then, outline the arguments that support your thesis.
Introduction:
·  The name of the author and the book title and the main theme.
·
Relevant details about who the author is and where he/she stands in the genre or field of inquiry. You
could also link the title to the subject to show how the title explains the subject matter.
·
The context of the book and/or your review. Placing your review in a framework that makes sense to
your audience alerts readers to your "take" on the book. Perhaps you want to situate a book about the
Cuban revolution in the context of Cold War rivalries between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Another reviewer might want to consider the book in the framework of Latin American social
movements. Your choice of context informs your argument.
·
The thesis of the book. If you are reviewing fiction, this may be difficult since novels, plays, and short
stories rarely have explicit arguments. But identifying the book's particular novelty, angle, or originality
allows you to show what specific contribution the piece is trying to make.
·
Your thesis about the book.
Summary of Content:
·  This should be brief, as analysis takes priority. In the course of making your assessment, you'll
hopefully be backing up your assertions with concrete evidence from the book, so some summary will
be dispersed throughout other parts of the review.
Analysis and Evaluation of the Book:
·  Your analysis and evaluation should be organized into paragraphs that deal with single aspects of your
argument. This arrangement can be challenging when your purpose is to consider the book as a whole,
but it can help you differentiate elements of your criticism and pair assertions with evidence more
clearly.
·
You do not necessarily need to work chronologically through the book as you discuss it. Given the
argument you want to make, you can organize your paragraphs more usefully by themes, methods, or
other elements of the book.
·
If you find it useful to include comparisons to other books, keep them brief so that the book under
review remains in the spotlight.
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·  Try using a few short quotes from the book to illustrate your points. This is not absolutely necessary,
but it's a good way to give your reader a sense of the author's writing style. Give a specific page
reference in parentheses when you do quote.
Conclusion:
·  Sum up or restate your thesis or make the final judgment regarding the book. You should not
introduce new evidence for your argument in the conclusion. You can, however, introduce new ideas
that go beyond the book if they extend the logic of your own thesis.
·
This paragraph needs to balance the book's strengths and weaknesses in order to unify your evaluation.
Did the body of your review have three negative paragraphs and one favorable one? What do they all
add up to? The Writing Center's handout on Conclusions can help you make a final assessment.
Reviewing Specific Types of Books:
The type of book being reviewed raises special considerations as to how to approach the review. Information
specific to the categories of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry can be found under the "Form and Technique"
heading of this guide. Below are further questions to consider, based on a book's category:
·  Biography/Autobiography
Does the book give a full-length picture of the subject? Focus on only a portion of life?
o
What phases of the subject's life receive greatest space? Is there justification for this?
o
What is the point of view of the author?
o
Are idiosyncrasies and weaknesses omitted? Treated adequately? Overplayed?
o
Does the author endeavour to get at hidden motives?
o
What important new facts about the subject's life are revealed in the book?
o
Is the subject of the biography still living?
o
What source materials were used in the preparation of the book?
o
·
History
What training has the author had for this kind of work?
o
What particular historical period does the book address?
o
Is the account given in broad outline, or in detail?
o
Is the style that of reportorial writing, or is there an effort at interpretation?
o
Is emphasis on traditional matter, like wars, kings, etc.? Or is it a social history?
o
Are dates used extensively and/or intelligently?
o
Is the book likely to be out of date soon? Or is it intended to stand the test of time?
o
Are maps, illustrations, charts, etc., helpful to the reader?
o
·
Contemporary Thought
Who is the author, and what right does he/she have to be writing on the subject? o What
o
contributions to knowledge and understanding are made by the book?
·
Travel and Adventure
Is the author credible? What is the author's purpose for writing the book?
o
Does the book contribute to knowledge of geography, government, folklore, etc.?
o
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o  Does the book have news value?
·
Mystery
How effective are plot, pace, style, and characterization? Strengths? Weaknesses?
o
Is the ending worthwhile? Predictable?
o
Children's Literature
o
What is the age/interest group for which the book is intended?
o
What is the overall experience/feeling of reading the book? o Is the book illustrated? How? By
o
whom?
Becoming an expert reviewer: Three short examples
Reviewing can be a daunting task. Someone has asked for your opinion about something that you may feel
unqualified to evaluate. Who are you to criticize Toni Morrison's new book if you've never written a novel
yourself, much less won a Nobel Prize? The point is that someone-a professor, a journal editor, peers in a study
group-wants to know what you think about a particular work. You may not be (or feel like) an expert, but you
need to pretend to be one for your particular audience. Nobody expects you to be the intellectual equal of the
work's creator, but your careful observations can provide you with the raw material to make reasoned
judgments. Tactfully voicing agreement and disagreement, praise and criticism, is a valuable, challenging skill,
and like many forms of writing, reviews require you to provide concrete evidence for your assertions.
Take a look of a review of a book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. You can use it as a model as you
begin thinking about your own book review.
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Review by Rodman Phil brick
I've never been to Alabama, but novelist Harper Lee made me feel as if I had been there in the
long, hot summer of 1935, when a lawyer named Atticus Finch decided to defend an innocent
black man accused of a horrible crime. The story of how the whole town reacted to the trial is
told by the lawyer's daughter, Scout, who remembers exactly what it was like to be eight years
old in 1935, in Maycomb, Alabama.
Scout is the reason I loved this book, because her voice rings so clear and true. Not only does
she make me see the things she sees, she makes me feel the things she feels. There's a lot more
going on than just the trial, and Scout tells you all about it.
A man called Boo Radley lives next door. Very few people have ever seen Boo, and Scout and
her friends have a lot of fun telling scary stories about him. The mystery about Boo Radley is
just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in To Kill
a Mockingbird.
Scout and her big brother, Jem, run wild and play games and have a great time while their
father is busy with the trial. One of their friends is a strange boy called Dill. Actually Dill isn't
really so strange once you get to know him. He says things like "I'm little but I'm old," which
is funny but also pretty sad, because some of the time Dill acts more like a little old man than
a seven­year­old boy.
To Kill a Mockingbird is filled with interesting characters like Dill, and Scout makes them all
seem just as real as the people in your own hometown. Here's how Scout describes Miss
Caroline, who wore a red­striped dress: "She looked and smelled like a peppermint drop."
Dill and Boo and Jem are all fascinating, but the most important character in the book is
Scout's father, Atticus Finch. You get the idea that Scout is writing the story down because she
wants the world to know what a good man her dad was, and how hard he tried to do the right
thing, even though the deck was stacked against him.
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The larger theme of the story is about racial intolerance, but Scout never tries to make it a
"lesson," it's simply part of the world she describes. That's why To Kill a Mockingbird rings true,
and why it all seems so real.
The trial of the wrongly accused Tom Robinson takes place during the time of segregation,
when black people were not allowed to socialize with white people. In that era, when a white
man said a black man committed a crime, the black man was presumed to be guilty. The law
required that they have a trial, but everybody knew the defendant was going to be convicted.
Atticus Finch, the quiet hero of the book, tries to persuade the jury that bigotry is wrong. His
words are eloquent and heartfelt. He demonstrates that Tom Robinson couldn't possibly have
assaulted the victim. Atticus even reveals the identity of the real villain, which enrages a very
dangerous enemy. This act of courage endangers not only Atticus Finch but his family as well.
They become the target of hate mongers and bigots.
Even though the story took place many years ago, you get the idea that parts of it could
happen today, in any town where people distrust and fear each other's differences.
In a just world an innocent man should be found not guilty. But if you want to know what this
particular jury finally decides and what happens to Scout and Jem and Dill and Boo Radley
and the rest of the people who live and breathe in To Kill a Mockingbird, you'll have to read the
book!
WRITING AN OBITUARY
What Is An Obituary?
More than merely a `good-bye' to the deceased, this is a farewell which can, in chronological order, detail the
life of the deceased. An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the
services that are to take place. An obituary's length may be somewhat dictated by the space available in the
newspaper it is to appear in. Therefore it's best to check how much room you have before you begin your
composition. Remember that the obituary needs to appear in print a few days prior to the memorial service.
There are some cases where this may not be possible, therefore give some consideration to the guidelines
below when composing the obituary.
Many newspapers just put down the facts, and most guides to writing an obituary will suggest this pattern:
1. Name of deceased.
2. Date of death.
3. Cause of death
4. Date of birth.
5. Who the survivors are.
6. Anything notable done by the deceased.
7. Funeral information, plus visitation/viewing information if any.
This obituary will look like this:
Joe Blow, a 26-year resident of Podunk, Nevada, died Feb. 27, 2007, of cancer.
Born on Feb. 28, 1930, he married Sue Monish on Feb. 14, 1922. She preceded him in death.
He was a veteran of the Second World War and had received the Navy Cross and the Purple
Heart for bravery.
Survivors are son Bill, Podunk, daughter, Jill Johnson, Las Vegas, 6 grandchildren.
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Funeral services Saturday, 2 p.m., Podunk chapel Visitation one hour before the service Burial
at Podunk cemetery with full military honors
Unless someone is notable, that's the kind of obit they're going to get.
Source: http://www.stetson.edu/~rhansen/prhowto.html
http://www.prweb.com/pressreleasetips.php#content#content
http://writing.colostate.edu
http://Teacher.scholastic.com
http://www.enc.edu
XXX
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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