Journalism is very different from most other types of writing. It is based in fact, people and timelessness. It also requires the writer to let go. Journalism writing requires detachment and, in some ways, the loss of the writers voice.
However, that doesn’t mean that journalism and journalists have to lose all the flare and creativity from their prose. That’s not the case at all. In fact, all that it means is that writers need to get more creative about the creativity in their writing. Just be careful and you will be fine.
See the thing is that journalism pieces should not include any of the writers personal viewpoints. Also, for the most part, the stories have to fit into a sort of format or formula. You have to start with a lede, follow up with a nut graph and layer quotes, information and transition paragraphs (in journalism that means a sentence or two) throughout the story until it is complete (anywhere from 400 to 1,400 or more words). This format and the entire premise of journalistic writing can really hinder creativity.
Here are some great tips to keep journalistic writing creative and fun:
- Use the lede to your advantage. What I mean is that you can always create a picture in the readers mind with the lede. Here are some examples:
- “Orangeand pink melt into the horizon, dropping behind the desert sand and the colors leave behind a dark blue sky filled with stars. The coyotes howl as the heat of the day is transformed into the cool of the night. In the Sonoran desert there are two countries, one border and a lifetime of stories.” Read the full story here.
- “For most migrants, coming to the U.S.is a chance: a chance at a better life, a chance for education, a chance for opportunity and a chance for a bright future for themselves and their families.
People from all over the world come here, yearning to be welcomed by Lady Liberty, in all her rustic glory. The majority of people just want to be given a chance to live the American dream.
The American dream and the hope for a better life are not easy to obtain legally. It is a trial and can wear people down.” Read the full story here.
- “One life. One body. One chance to get it all right. As summer hangs over Arizona, it’s time for boys to become men and get serious about skin care.” Read the full story here.
- “In a small off-white room, with crooked pictures on the wall, a large table in the center, worn looking couch up against one of the walls, and a small white counter with wood appliqué cluttered with a microwave, and two coffee makers are the only three resident elders on campus. This is room nine in SBS West.” Read the full story here.
- Readers aren’t there when you are interviewing a source, so describe how the source looks during the interview. Get descriptive when describing the source’s tone during a particular phrase.
- Describe the room or area that you are talking about in your story. Get vivid with it.
- Remember: you get to pick the quotes and angle (or direction) of the story. Let that be your greatest creative outlet in journalism. Report on things that you’re passionate about and the readers will feel that, just be sure to remain as unbiased as humanly possible.
Writing is art you make with your words. Never stop creating.
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