How to think like a Journalist: Transitions

As a rookie reporter, I once made the mistake of writing a ‘He said. She said’ story until the newsroom’s city editor cringed.

Transitions are extremely important in writing. They offer balance within the story.

Instead of stringing long quotes together, transition to paraphrases and plain facts, not opinions of others.

Paraphrasing is essential to break the story out into a coherent whole. Writers, to express greater meaning within an opinion or fact, use paraphrasing.

An example of paraphrasing used with a quote includes the story I wrote about the annual Troy Turkey Trot.

Regan said the Troy Turkey Trot began to give out $5 gift certificates for the top three traditional costumes and the top three non-traditional costumes (paraphrase).

“There was one team who dressed up as a silverware set – a knife, fork, and spoon. Hilarious!” Regan said (quote).

The costume event has a long history since the Troy Turkey Trot’s inception, Regan said (paraphrase).

The Troy Turkey Trot raised $10,000 last year and this year the event director said they set a more ambitious goal of $12,000 to benefit two charities, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and Joseph’s House and Shelter located in the city of Troy (paraphrase).

 I used Regan’s quote because it more vividly enhanced the story using his exact words. By paraphrasing his other quotes, I am able to provide greater meaning to the reader.

Another way to make a balanced story is to use direct facts taken from a text, document, or website.

For example,

The Troy Turkey Trot began in 1916 and besides interruptions due to the Great Depression and to war, the city of Troy has hosted 69 annual Thanksgiving Day races. This year will mark its 70th turkey trot (fact).

According to Runners World, Thanksgiving Day overtook the Fourth of July as the most popular road racing day in the United States (fact).

 By using direct facts gleaned from ‘official’ documents or other ‘reliable’ sources, the writer can offer explanations to help the reader understand the context.

Writing with polish, providing quotes, paraphrasing, and throwing in facts adds to a well-balanced story.


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