Saturday 31 January 2009

news vs. editorials

It never ceases to amaze me. What are they teaching in journalism school?

In an already horrific news item, graphically gruesome in its sparse details, it seems that journalists want to appear as writers. I began reading a news item, looking for facts. Instead, what I find is a creative rendition of what the journalist imagines happened when a mother murders her daughter. The statement of facts, which used to be what news articles were all about, were posted on another web page.

Whatever happened to the newspaper article guidelines of the past? You used to be able to read much of the item, salient details, in the first paragraph. It if was a more complicated story, more information was left to the next paragraph. Eventually, the writer left more of the less important detail, quotes from observers or victims.

I know, when I taught writing in elementary and middle school, that we guided students to include the formula: the who, what, when, where and why first. Most editors seem to need to include a hook or a pun in the title to grab the reader. Rather an insult to the reader, as if news isn't enough reason to read. That is why I pick up a paper or surf on-line papers.

Perhaps, in an attempt to 'jump the shark' in the print media, newspapers are attempting to grab readers. Magazine readership is down, you can order cheap magazines as they attempt to keep up subscribers lists and, therefore, advertising dollars. The industry is certainly facing many issues with readership in decline over the Internet. With an aging population with grace and dignity, perhaps it is time to determine target audiences and aim for real news and facts not fiction.

It is appalling the tabloid-type stories featured on the front page of the newspaper. What are they thinking? With the opening paragraph giving invented salacious prose, that leave out details. The reporter even speaks of the perpetrator speaking to an 'undercover agent' out in the field. If they are undercover, isn't that entrapment? I am so fed up with such headliner news. Give me facts and detail and information on a story, not something better suited to short story writers. These journalists have to get their mandate straight, editors have to get back on board. We cannot reduce the newspaper to junk copy.

1 comment:

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