Top 25 words:
This week we looked at researching a story to write an article on, and we were instructed to craft the first 25 words of our story in a way that would captivate readers and make them want to read on. I based my article on a shooting in America, and my 25 words were:
“Unarmed black man shot dead in Tulsa, Oklahoma by a local police officer. Authorities are investigating the death of Terence Crutcher, 40.”
The professional 25 words example that I used to help me understand how to entrance readers with the first sentence or two of a piece of writing was from the BBC News Online and the example is:
“The presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was watched by 84 million people on US TV, breaking a previous record set 36 years ago.”
I feel that compared to the BBC’s first 25 words my own were not as effective because the BBC have given a statement that will entice readers, the wording of their opening makes the article to follow seem as though it will be interesting as well as informative, unlike my own, which comes across as a fact giving entrance.
On Tuesday’s lesson we discussed the importance of word choice in journalism, and how certain words should not be used in this format of writing. We were given the task of choosing a song and turning the lyrics into a short news story. I chose the song ‘Message Man’ by Twenty One Pilots. My story came out as follows:
“A young man hiding behind a mask, stood on top of a skyscraper in New York this morning with a megaphone, calling out “who I am today is worse that other times”.
This mystery man referred to himself as the ‘Message Man’ during a speech he gave from the top of the high-rise building, in which he revealed “I’m wanted and on the run”. If this revelation from our newest unknown wasn’t enough to scare by-passers the Message Man then rhetorically asked “Why am in denial that they tried the suicidal session?”
Without answering his previous question, the mystery message man then gave his final statement of “please use discretion when you’re messing with the message man.” before walking away from the edge of the building and doing what seemingly looked like disappearing.
I think that I could have improved on this story by using more of the lyrics in it rather than using them as a foundation to base the entire written piece off of. Also, I believe that I could have continued the story a little to make it more interesting and engaging.
An example of poor professional word choice in journalism is bad headlines. Most newspapers have informing or engaging headlines, more often than not, both. However, there are few headlines with poor word choice that have, in the past, given the wrong image to readers, or not made sense in portraying what it is that the headline is supposed to be saying. An example of a bad headline is:
I think that after the exercises that we carried out, and looking at poor word choice in journalism, I understand the importance of choosing and deciding on the correct words to use in different formats of writing.
Passive and Active writing:
Throughout the week we also learnt the importance of passive and active verbs in journalism. Active verbs form efficient and powerful sentences; the subject of an active voice sentence performs the action of the verb: “I will clean the house every Saturday.” The subject of a passive voice sentence is still the main character of the sentence, but something else performs the action: “The house will be cleaned by me every Saturday.”
Some professional examples of passive and active voice sentences are from the sheet that Greg gave to us in our lesson, and below are some examples of the sentences on the sheet:
Harry ate six shrimp at dinner. (active)
At dinner, six shrimp were eaten by Harry. (passive)
Tom painted the entire house. (active)
The entire house was painted by Tom. (passive)
Larry generously donated money to the homeless shelter. (active)
Money was generously donated to the homeless shelter by Larry. (passive)
As our task we were asked to take the passive voice sentence given to us, and to find as many active verbs to replace and better the sentence we were given. The sentence was: “She walked slowly across the room.” The different ways of changing this sentence that I came up with were:
“She loitered across the room.”
“She drifted across the room.”
“She dawdled across the room.”
“She trudged across the room.”
“She lingered across the room.”
“She traipsed across the room.”
“She dallied across the room.”
“She ambled across the room.”
Personally, I think that there is not much difference between the sentences I wrote myself and the active voice sentences that were on the sheet, but I also think I could improve in this area by knowing more synonyms for basic movements and actions used in sentencing.
Use of Information:
We learned during the week, the necessity of the correct use of information. Use of information is using the research of evidence that you have and then writing a legible article or report on the subject that you have researched. A professional example of correct use of information is an online article such as this BBC News online report:
Kuenssberg, L. (2016) Brexit: Theresa May to Article 50 by end of March. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37532364 (Accessed: 2/10/2016)
This article shows the correct use of information as it shows that the writer has clearly used the research that they had to compose the piece of writing that they have produced to inform their readers.
My own example of my correct use of information is an article I wrote on the shooting of Terence Crutcher which showed the decent piece of writing I came out with after researching the death of this man, and gathering as much information, from reliable sources, as I possibly could.
Overall, I think that the skills I have learned throughout week two of the course have helped me understand the importance of different aspects to journalism, and I both believe and hope that these skills will not only improve my writing in a journalistic sense, but also influence the way that I write in other formats and contexts.