• Wednesday, 28 September 2022

On Journalistic Writing


Journalistic writing” seems to be the buzzword of the day. From schoolchildren to working professionals, everyone claims to want a “journalistic flair” in their articles. But what exactly is journalistic writing? Ask this and almost everyone will answer news. 

But journalistic writing is so much more than that. It is a form of non-fiction writing used to report factual events in a short, concise, accurate, understandable and interesting way. Yes, they are mostly used for news but the style can also be followed to write scripts, non-news articles, notices, messages, etc. Basically, journalistic writing is about disseminating information to the target audience in a way that they will pay attention, read and take action. Journalistic writings are written to inform in the best way possible and usually consist of short sentences and paragraphs that get to the point quickly.

There are a few basic features of journalistic writing that people must adopt if they wish to produce journalist-like content. First, they must have an attractive headline that catches the readers’ attention, tells them what the writing is about in as few words as possible, encourages them to dive into the text and uses powerful and emotive language that provokes thoughts and analysis.

The body of the text must contain accurate and factual information, opinions of experts and important background and context. 

It must anticipate and answer all possible questions a reader could have about the issue it focuses on. Journalistic writings must give space to the opposition arguments too but it must be clear about the side it favours. Any biases and conflicts of interest should be revealed to the audience. Journalistic writing is honest writing.

Similarly, these writings must be catered to the understanding and interests of the audience and the type of media outlet they are being disseminated from. Just because we call it journalistic writing does not mean it has to be exclusively focused on words. These “writings” can be done with pictures, audio/visual or any other medium available at our disposal. As mentioned above, journalistic writing is about delivering the required information to the target audience and any and all media that help us do that should be employed.

Also, these writings should be written in the inverted pyramid structure as far as applicable. Today’s audience has a very short attention span and it is doubtful that they will read the whole article from top to bottom with the same focus and energy. Therefore, the things they absolutely need to know should be stated in the first few paragraphs.

It is extremely important to keep journalistic writings as simple as possible. These writings are for the audience; therefore, they should be easy to understand and not require multiple readings and multiple sittings. The goal is to break down even the most complex concepts so that everyone gets it. It is not about showing how much the writer knows. There are other writing formats that permit the writers to boast of their knowledge and abilities but not journalistic ones.

Journalistic articles must also be precise in the terms they use. Each word should be used with its original dictionary meaning and slang and entendre should be avoided. This does not mean avoiding informalities as they can add flavour and make the text relatable. It is only about preventing misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

All journalistic writings, regardless of who writes it when and where, should be aimed at informing the readers of local, national and global issues and events and helping them understand and conceptualise them. Whether or not they succeed in doing that can be judged later but their initial intention should be this.

Journalistic writing is more than just news but news is a crucial part of it. So, when produced to deliver news, journalistic writings should be straightforward. They should relay all the facts without flourishes or embellishments. 

They do not and should not pick and choose what to give and what to conceal based on their own interests and preferences and they should conduct investigations to uncover the truth that those in power want to keep hidden. News writings are what we typically associate with journalism and the press.

Journalistic writings can also be reviews which are part opinion and part facts. Review writings need to accomplish two things – accurately describe the subject being reviewed and 

provide informed opinions based on research and experience. Pretty much anything can be reviewed, from movies to literature to food to transport. Columns are also a type of journalistic writing.

How did you feel after reading this news?

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