News Writing Critique

Like many things in life, if you want to be successful in the field of journalism you need to pay attention to the small details. One of the biggest takeaways I learned these past few weeks is that reporting the news and writing stories is a process.

When we are given a topic or a story to cover, a journalist’s first and most important job is to understand the topic. In order to interpret and share the news with a larger audience, it is essential for a media member to do thorough research and grasp what they are writing about.

Once a journalist has a solid knowledge of their topic, the rest of the steps in the news reporting and writing process become much more fluid. I was very intrigued learning about the extent to which Barbara Walters, a well-known British journalist, went to prepare for an interview. She would write out hundreds of questions, doing very exhaustive research in order to be best prepared for her interviews.

Comprehensive research and preparation leads to better questioning during interviews and more successful story development. I never realized how much preparation went into interviewing a person and gathering the necessary information for a story, but these are crucial parts of being a good journalist.

After a journalist has conducted their interview, kept good notes and exacted interesting information from various sources, they next need to turn that into a story. Being a good journalist is more than just having strong writing ability and stating facts, it’s about developing a story in a way that interests the audience.

Though there is room for a journalist to be creative with their story, every piece of writing needs to include a few basic elements. A strong lead that explains the relevance of what is being reported is the first and most important part of a news story. To be successful at crafting an intriguing news story, a journalist must decipher what information is most important to the readers and develop a fluid order to their work.

When writing a story, journalists have to recognize the rules and conventions of good news writing, keeping in mind things like correct attribution, contextualization and AP style formatting.

Overall, as we have studied the news process and inverted pyramid writing style I have seen that journalism is truly a craft that takes time to develop. Being a successful journalist is more than solely being an eloquent writer. Writing is an essential piece of journalism, but good journalists need to be able to excel in each individual facet of the journalistic process in order to produce the best content.

What I’ve Learned

As we have learned the basic principles of the journalistic process and delved into the concept of what makes something news, I have noticed a couple things. The foundations that have been laid are the essential building blocks that I will be able to use not only in my time as a journalist, but in life in general.

One of the main things I have taken away from our study in this class has been the relevant nature and applicability of many of the concepts we have learned. So much of journalism is understanding and applying the most appropriate forms of communication with people.

The journalistic process is based on developing strong interpersonal skills and applying them. A good journalist is not someone who sits behind a computer screen all day and writes extremely well. Instead, a journalist has to be able to interact with people, be inquisitive and discern what information is important for people to know.

This is one of the main reasons why I feel strongly called to the field of journalism. Writing, specifically about sports, is something that I am passionate about, but as a Christ follower I want journalism to be more than a hobby or profession.

For me, being a journalist is an opportunity to make an impact in a field that is predominantly secular, and to connect with people in a way that would point them to Jesus. Whether it is fellow journalists, subjects in a news story or the audience in which I communicate with, I have the opportunity to develop relationships with so many different people.

Throughout these past few weeks I have seen that good journalists do not solely display facts and write stories. Good journalists develop relationships with the people they work with, the people they interview and their audience.

Overall, I have gained an understanding of the rules and ideas that aid in being a better journalist, but most importantly I learned the importance of relationship and truly getting to know people. God has given me a calling to do something I enjoy doing, which is writing and reporting news. However, it is more than just a skill to be learned, it is a lifestyle and it is an opportunity to make an impact.

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Christian Weaner is a student journalist at Liberty University.

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Christian Weaner

Christian Weaner

Christian Weaner is a student journalist at Liberty University.

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