Write What's Important

Content is just as important as the mechanics of a story. Organization should be one of your main concerns, and in journalism, it all comes down to the famous inverted pyramid (which we learned about in Writing for Mass Communication). If for some reason its definition has already slipped your mind, the inverted pyramid calls for the most important information to be placed at the top of the story. This usually involves the who, what, where, when, why, how and “So what?” factors. This information will either be placed in a hard lede or a nut graf.

Sometimes it’s difficult just to decide what goes in a story. When you write a sentence, think about its importance. Does the sentence add anything to the story? Does it present any vital information? Does it set a scene? If the answer is “No” to all of those questions, cut the sentence. On the other hand, don’t leave out important information just because it’s not interesting or doesn’t necessarily fit into your story as it stands. Also, when it comes to choosing what’s included, only use quotes that portray an opinion or emotion. Purely factual quotes should be paraphrased.

Fact errors can kill your grade.

While you’re typing away, you must make sure you’re careful, or else you’ll come across the dreaded, infamous fact error. I put this little bit about fact errors in the content section because fact errors are very much an error of content. Sure, a misspelling of a proper noun can get you a fact error, but so can misattribution or an error stemming from a misinterpretation of what someone tells you. Any incorrect information can get you a fact error (and 50 points off your grade). So when deciding what to put in your article, don’t be afraid to call and double-check if your information is accurate. It’s part of your job description.