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.

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Make your Writing Shine with Similes

We use the word ‘like’ a lot without even realizing we use it. Like, wow! Like, radical! Hey, it’s like you know, cool!

And this is just the tip of expressing ourselves. Many writers use similes using connecting words ‘like’ and ‘as’ in their stories to express something unfathomable to our senses. Take for instance the singer-songwriter John Denver who used ‘like’ a lot in his song Annie’s Song:

You fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again

Similes, unlike metaphors, compare one thing to another and are used to describe something more vividly. Similes can be used either positively as the above Denver song or negatively as in “You’re as cold as ice. You are ready to sacrifice our love” (Foreigner).

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How to think like a Journalist: Pyramids

You may have come across the five Ws of writing: Who, what, when, where, why (and how). A story is not complete without the five.

In a news story, the five Ws should be at the top of the story, within the lead or at least within the first few paragraphs. Don’t leave readers guessing or you will lose them.

The most important elements of the story – the five Ws – should be written in the beginning (no cliffhangers allowed!). Supporting elements should be written lastly.

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Think of the Printing Press and Be Amazed

The world is full of change right now. The technological revolution upon us for a few years now – social media and the personal computer in particular – has brought change to how we communicate with each other.

We don’t call, we text. We don’t read the newspaper, we read a blog. We don’t send letters, we email. We don’t consult the encyclopedia, we Google.

But the mother of all that change has definitely got to be the printing press.

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How to think like a Journalist: the Hook

Ask any fisherman and he will tell you, the way you cast your hook is half the battle in catching fish. According to Bob Puccinelli of the St. Petersburg Times, for fly fishermen, or women for that matter, accuracy is important when casting the line. So is delivering the fly.

The same holds true for reporters and their profession. You have to find the right hook.

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