In these last two chapters, Filak ends the book as if he’s saying his final parting words.
I find this one of the most important lessons of journalistic writing. It is important to stay true to the story and not to sacrifice ethics for a good story. A good story can still be written with honesty.
The SPJ, NPPA and RTDNA are new for me, but they give the layout of ethics for journalistic writing.
Filaks warns when writing to be considerate of others and to be careful of what you publish and how you write it. It is important not to give out personal information and if important information is given out, it is important to ask for permission first.
Filka warns that even though you are able to say and write what you want, there will still be consequences, good or bad. Technically writers may not be arrested for falsehood or over-exaggeration, but here are still major consequences. They can lose readers and more importantly lose credibility.
Ah, yes. Laws and Ethics. While most of these two chapters were refreshers for me, having taken US government and applied ethics (not to mention my social justice minor), I learned a few things about how these relate to journalism. I’d never heard of reporter privilege or shield laws, hadn’t realized you can’t sue the President for libel (unfortunate), and while most of the ethics chapter boiled down to basic human decency and critical thinking, I didn’t have names for the ethical approaches discussed at the beginning of the chapter.
I loved that one of the headings in the ethics chapter was “Be Human.” It sounds simple, but it’s something corporations, politicians, and journalists often forget. All people are people and should be treated with respect, and this is hard for some folks. But this was a nice reminder that a lot of things are just that simple.
Aha! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I was wondering if we were ever going to get to the end of this book. Chapter 12 is important for new journalists to understand because it is easy to get caught up in misunderstanding the law and what government societies can legally do. We all know about freedom of speech but we also tend to feel underpowered when it comes to authorities. For example, back in my dispatching days, we had a couple of high profile cases that landed national media attention. One was even broadcast across the globe due to the international sting one of our undercover officers unfolded. I was still fairly new to dispatch, so when all the mainstream media approached the door I was a little starstruck. That being said, I can tell you that they were relentless in asking as many questions as possible about the case. But when they went back to the press conference to speak with Chief Jones, some of the newer journalists didn’t ask anything. This is also a good example of the manipulation that can happen just by the situation. Seasoned journalists knew what to expect and what to ask and were by far ethical.
This book did a great job in summarizing points about beginning journalism. I especially appreciated the visual elements and simple formatting.
I think Filak’s chapter 4 should have been closer to the end of the book. Particularly after we read about the rules. How can you “break” them if you don’t yet know them? I guess the reason for placing it where he did was because he spoke about the structure of the story and the main sections to include. Perhaps just a title change would have been effective. It was a good review of the nut graph and to create a visual element in your reader’s mind.
Knights chapters 8 & 9 were probably the most helpful chapters for me so far in any of the readings because I struggle with cliches and trying to break the rules too much. I found it amusing that I was reading while petting and snuggling with my three oversized pooches, being that Knight makes mention of dogs. Then I was unhappy with the author when I read that he thinks jargon writers are “lazy” only to finally find myself yet again amused, at his explanation of the title “chair” since I often wondered why Joe would call himself that!
Again I find myself loving the visual elements of each chapter as well as the formatting that makes it easier to absorb. Most of chapter seven was a review for me – as dispatch reports follow most of the same rules, but I did find the sports reporting particularly interesting because I have never done it.
Chapter 8 reminded me of one of the first projects in Jackson’s Media Management class last semester. She asked us to go out and find anything interesting in the community to write about. I don’t think I had ever done that before, so it was interesting, to say the least. I did find the beats section very interesting but wonder if having that task as a professional might quickly become boring and stagnant? I guess if you were assigned to a beat that peaked your interests it would be fantastic.
The points about interviewing people for their personality profiles was well thought out, suggesting to include multiple interviews and gives the journalist several chances to really capture the essence of their piece.
Knight’s points about editorializing and using euphemisms are great reminders of things to consider while writing journalistically. I know that personally, I struggle with too much embellishing and too much creativity in a lot of my pieces. I typically have to tone them down a bit in order to be considered a journalistic piece so this chapter really helped. I have dog-eared a couple of the pages for future reference.
Filak’s chapter 2 was a great reminder that you have to really consider the whole story before digging into it. This is something I’m pretty good at. I think my creativity plays a great role here, in that I try to see the whole picture in my head and then execute the steps to make it happen. Comparing story writing to a recipe was a great analogy. I also enjoyed the photo from one of my favorite series, Mad Men at the beginning of the chapter!
I honestly use a lot of clichés in my everyday speech, so it can be hard sometimes to not use them in my writing. While I do well in avoiding most clichés in writing, I still leave a few of them in there. I do agree, that some clichés are annoying and need to die, but I don’t find all of them to be bad. Knight notes how important it is to have original ideas and to put thought into your own writing. He also warns to not use over complicated vocabulary as to not lose your readers and so anyone of the general public can read what you have written. If I have to have a dictionary at hand in order to understand what someone has written, it’s not worth reading and ruins the flow of the story.
Filak’s chapter 4 I felt as if it was basic information we have already covered, probably due to the fact that we are reading these chapters out of order. He encourages to be descriptive in your writing but cautions not to be too descriptive as to not sound repetitive. He gives an example of a basic outline for a writing an engaging story, which I found as a refresher. A Nut Graph is a new term for me which is basically the part of the story which tells why the story is important and gives any important information while still keeping the story interesting. Overall, it was an okay read. Not my favorite.