Filak makes a few points that anyone looking to be successful in writing must remember. The most important rules? Spell correctly and make sure your grammar is correct.
In these chapters that we also read last semester, Filak highlights important rules of writing, the basics of how to construct good sentences and what makes a reporter great. Writing so your readers can understand is one of the most critical parts of media writing.
One of the points Filak made was to make your sentence structure vary to make an impact. For some reason the way this was presented sounded to me like the structure of every horror movie cliche.
Long sentences invoke the same feelings audiences get during the first 15 minutes of a horror film when you’re meeting characters and discovering the plot. It’s boring and long and not full of action and your audience is just along for the ride until it get more interesting.
Medium length sentences are like when you’re watching the stupid cheerleader girl go into the haunted basement. You know something’s going to happen soon and it’s definitely more interesting than the “meet the characters” filler.
Short sentences are like when the girl finds the ghost in the closet. Or doll. Or nun. Take your pick. Short sentences add drama and are more impactful than boring longer ones.
Filak makes some valuable insights that help the reader know what the best way to be a good journalist is.
While reading chapter 3, what I found interesting is when Filak, the author, starts explaining sentence length. This is important in writing because with short sentences, you get to the point of what you are talking about. I can relate to this because I am a more of a short sentence writer, for example, journaling, rather than essays which usually include longer sentences. However, I agree with Filak when he explains how longer sentences create flow in what you are talking about. To me, if I Just have short sentences, my point will get across but will provide no information to the reader, which is why I like to use longer sentences. Another section I found interesting with this chapter is when Filak talks about reading your writing aloud. I have a problem with this because I usually do not do this because I feel awkward. “Writers often miss words, forget to add phrases or repeat ideas when they transfer the information from their brains to their keyboards,” Filak said. I can relate to this because I think of things and then I won’t type it because I was going too fast. This chapter made me think about a few things to help me make my writing better and I am going to try and work on these things.
While reading chapter 4, the section that caught my attention from the start is the killer “Be’s”, which are, be right, be tight, be clear, be active, be smooth, and be quick. This is very important in writing because if you have all of these then you are going to have a good story. Being right with your information is important because you want your reader to trust you so they will continue to read your writing in the future. Usually when people report “fake news” they lose the trust of the readers and people will not read their stories. Being tight is something that I am good at in media writing because I get to the point about my topic along with being clear about my topic. One of the main things I like to do when I am writing is to be active so I can catch the readers attention and not sound boring. I thought this section helped me think about how to sound efficient to have readers read what I am writing and to enjoy reading my writing.
While reading chapter 8, what I found interesting was the section of preparing for the event. I thought this was interesting because the first thing you should do before evening attending the event is to be prepared. Whether it is a speech, meeting, or even breaking news, you should know what you are getting yourself into. “The value of preparation is also crucial as you cover meetings, speeches and news conferences,” Filak said. Going into an event and knowing what to ask is the most important thing that I think will help you get a good story.
Upon first glance of the chapters, it was clear to me that a good foundation for the basics of journalistic writing was needed before any progress could be made further into the more advanced material. It was refreshing to view all these little details again since I have not studied grammar, media writing, or event coverage in a few months (following my last writing course at Reinhardt).
Chapter three’s purpose in my eyes was to beat the idea into our thick skulls that simplicity, clarity, and conciseness trump all gorgeous wordplay when it comes to journalism. The reader will not care how pretty a piece is if they do not understand the material. As writers, it is our goal to control every little detail we can to maintain the credibility and readability of our work, otherwise risking a significant drop in followers and thus destroying the necessity of our written word under the public eye.
Moving away from the mess of grammar, I could see brighter chapters ahead, delving deeper into the recesses of media writing as opposed to grade-school sentence structure. The most important takeaways from chapters four and eight were the Inverted Pyramid and the importance of the 5Ws and 1H. The Inverted Pyramid is perhaps the most important tool in a journalist’s arsenal; the most valuable information goes first in the story then is supported by lesser important (but equally necessary) details to provide the utmost clarity. I have seen this before in my experience writing, and when one is engaged in their beat or is covering an important event, structuring the facts in this order AND answering “who, what, when, where, why, and how” accordingly helps the writer formulate a great story that is easily readable and will more than likely be consumed by many, as opposed to few if the former rules are not adhered to.
These few foundational chapters engaged my understanding of the surface of journalism and ensure further success for more technical work as long as each base topic is remembered well.
Chapter 3 of the textbook has some very useful insights on the topic of grammar and sentence structure. Filak’s mention of an author’s credibility being his “stock-in-trade” is absolutely true (p. 38). If a writer has no credibility, what does he have? Nothing. I liked his statement: “if one component [of a sentence] is weak, the whole machine suffers” (p. 39). Sentence structure is one of the most important ways for a writer to get his point across. Many people think that embellishing makes their writing sound more sophisticated, but it actually just tends to clutter the sentence structure and take away from the initial idea the writer is trying to convey.
I thought is was very interesting how Filak mentioned that sometimes grammar actually gets in the way of a writer’s main idea. I’ve always been one for correct grammar, but I agree that sometimes it can actually misconstrue what the author was trying to say, or confuse the audience he is trying to reach. I also liked his section on how reading aloud can help a writer find his mistakes. I’ve found this to be true in my own writing.
In chapter 4, Filak talks about the inverted pyramid. I find this useful because I would normally write in a chronological order. However, by writing the outcome of the story first, the writer catches his audience’s attention and gives them a reason to keep reading.
In chapter 8, he mentions knowing background information before going to an event. This seems like common sense to me; but the more I read, the more I understood. Covering an event seems like an easy task, because all a writer is reporting is what took place. However, if he has no beforehand knowledge of the event, topic, or people he is covering, his story is likely to be bare and boring. The audience members he is trying to reach will likely pick up on this and look elsewhere for their source of news on the event. Post-event interviews are also extremely helpful, because they may be able to fill in gaps the spokesperson has left out. They also may be able to explain some of the formal language and jargon at the event that readers may possibly be confused by.
To begin this response, I would like to say that everything that Filak has mentioned in “Dynamics of Media Writing,” I had to apply throughout the course of my newspaper internship this past summer. This guy is seriously a genius.
Style and grammar matter TREMENDOUSLY when writing. If you can’t communicate to your readers clearly, how will they be able to understand what you really mean? A clear connection of speech from yourself to the readers builds a trusting bond. Forming that trusting bond will give your writing a characteristic that brings more readers in.
Simplicity and clarity is the first step to creating a relationship (and that bond I was talking about earlier) with your audience. When Filak introduces this strategy, he shows you that your sentences set the pace for your specific piece of writing, which is an important aspect of journalism. The flow of your writing shows your readers your style.
Let’s be honest here, media writing is unique in itself. There are many rules to follow, but there are also many ways to keep your writing creative, without it looking identical to every other journalist’s work. Writing is a skill that can be developed and shaped and Filak explains how media writing can be perfected, while keeping it your own. Building your writing up, beginning with the basics, helps guide your writing in the right direction.
Along with media writing comes the decision on if the event should even be covered. Is it interesting? Is it worth telling? Will it make an audience want to read your story? Filak states that you have to know how to cover an event– and cover it productively. Preparation and fact checking is mandatory to be successful as a journalist.
During my internship, I applied all of the news reporting steps that Filak mentions. It was a way to conduct my interviews, event coverages, and photo ops adequately to get what I needed for the paper. I made sure I questioned my motives beforehand to be sure of the purpose of my story– which was a key aspect of my success as a reporter.
This is my sophomore year at Piedmont College and I am absolutely in love with this small school in this small town. I could not wait to move back here and continue my journey.
I was in a wreck over the summer where my car was totaled. Everyone walked away with minor injuries but considering it was my first accident, it scared me to death. I walked away with a new perspective on life. Iv always heard the saying “live everyday like its your last” but I never really understood it until that day. Since then I try to make everyday as productive as it possible can. Whether it’s working, hanging out with friends, or doing a few chores; I try to do more than just sit and roam all my different social media apps. Doing this I found a new love for hiking and going on adventures, so if anyone ever needs a hiking buddy, you know where to find one!
If you want to get me to talk about something, ask me about my 6-month-old nephew, Van! Just look at how precious he looks! I can sit all day and tell you about what makes him laugh or what little weird quirks he has. If you want I can shows you videos and picture that has completely filled all my storage on my phone but it’s totally worth it.
Oh and by the way, I work at Chicago’s Pizza right down the road for the school, we have really good food so everyone should come in sometime to see me. 😊