Writing Basics and Procedures

Don’t despair at lots of comments and changes to your story. Journalistic writing is different than the kind of essay writing you’ve had drilled into your brain all of your life,  and it takes time to learn the rules and put them into practice.

An editor’s job is like being a mechanic. You bring your car in to me to see what’s wrong with it. I can talk about the things that work and are okay with your car, but you’ve really brought it in to me so that I can figure out why it’s not running smoothly (or at all). I can say, “Wow, your paint job looks awesome, and your tires are all inflated properly!” But that doesn’t help your car to run better.

Think of editing marks like your mechanic saying, “Well, your timing belt is loose, your carburetor is clogged, and there’s no oil. Fix those thing, and you should be good to go.” Sometimes you may need to come back for adjustments, or something new might have come up. That’s like revisions. The first time through, I might not catch everything, or I might come up with another idea for a solution. Or my original solution might have been wrong, etc.

It takes time. Be patient. No one writes a flawless first draft. 

Make a Reporter’s Notebook/Stylebook for yourself using whatever format you prefer: Google Doc, physical notebook, note pad on your phone, whatever works. Refer to it as needed. We’ll go over new things just about every day.

Attributions: Who said it? Style – First and Last name first time, only Last name after that.

Example: “I never thought I would get picked for the lead in the play,” Johnson said. Comma inside quotation marks, then Johnson said. NOT said Johnson.

Also, just use “said.” Not “stated, intoned, orated, or uttered.” Just “said.”

Citing Sources:
So, the way we do citations in journalistic writing is different than essays. In stories, we put the citation with the information in the body of the story. But in this case, we wouldn’t cite other newspapers unless we mention that they originally reported it. If it’s information we can get from a primary source (The National Weather Service, for example), then we can attribute it to them by saying in the story, “according to The National Weather Service).

Please use the Templates for all of your stories (drafts included) that are in your Google Classroom folder. We will move them to Advocate Issue Stories Folder when it’s time to place them during layout.

Don’t Resolve comments. It makes them disappear, and it’s more time-consuming to find them. Go ahead and make changes, but leave the comment unresolved.