New term, another new module…writing

News and feature writing module for print/online

This module seems quite intense so far but really good and definitely very useful.  I came onto the course to focus on video but after 2 lessons in writing I’m really enjoying it and learning a great deal and see the importance of it regardless of what specialism I would like to take.

The module covers:

Lesson one: news writing
  • Theory – pyramid.  This really makes sense and is a great tool to visualise as you are writing a story.
  • What type of story? – who? and what? are the most common.
  • Use strong active verbs and avoid passive constructions (although can be used in a who story for impact)
  • “It is a means of imparting information as quickly and efficiently as possible”
  • Intro – 10 – 25 words MAX.  This is like the ‘top line’ in broadcast.

We have weekly assignments and timed practical’s in class to get us used to writing well and under pressure.  Click here to read my first assignment – an article on housing for asylum seekers in Britain.

Lesson two: news writing

  • Feedback on assignments – I received at 2:1 for my first article which I was pleased with!  Comments included formatting/style of quotes and that it would have been nice to have included another quote for more balance in the piece….a good start to print I think!
  • Tips and rules on using quotes and punctuation…there are many and they are quite specific!
  • Timed exercise – 50 minutes to write a 450 word article on the Pakistan floods from a media pack and 2 videos.  This had to be submitted electronically and it was on a timer so meeting the deadline was key.  We were told we HAD to submit in order to receive feedback…eek!  I did feel the pressure initially but got on with it and managed to submit 358 words and an image…it will be interesting to get feedback next week and see how well I did writing under pressure!
  • Homework assignment set – we were given an article and told to re-structure it conforming to the ‘pyramid’.

Lesson three: sub editing

  • Given back our structure assignment – I did pretty well here, with 4 out of the 5 top lines in the correct place!  I had included a quote higher in the story than was necessary and after explanation I realised that it wasn’t an essential but rather a ‘nice to know.’
  • Feedback on the timed Pakistan article given.  I was really interested to get this feedback as I wasn’t really sure how I’d done!  I got another 4/5 marks – so a 2:1 which I was very happy to see!  He liked my piece despite not having met the word count in the time given.  He suggested a couple of changes such as swapping the order of two paragraphs.
  • Sub editing introduction – why, what and how
  • Building the furniture‘ – the elements used in print such as headlines, sub heads, bylines….etc.
  • Headline and sub heads practice….I found out this area is NOT my strong point!!  For a Sun article about John Prescott’s mobile phone going off at a Chinese wedding he attended I suggested……’Prezza: ring-mein’!!! – Yes, that’s right!  I was trying to be clever with the whole use of the word ‘ring’ (phone and wedding ring) and link it to China (chinese food….chow mein)….anyway, I think that’s enough said about that!
  • Timed sub-editing practice
  • Homework sub-editing assignment set

Lesson four: feature writing

Lesson five: feature writing

  • Homework feedback – I was surprised that my ideas were quite well received, given that I had not put a lot of thought and time into them.  This gives me a bit of confidence for pitching my assessment feature soon!
  • Our second session on feature writing covered structure of a piece and involved a short exercise where we had to write a couple of ideas for intros of a feature from some copy we were given.  I got some good feedback which was surprising as I felt so tired I just put down the first thoughts in my head – maybe this is a good tip….not to over think all the time!
  • You can click here to read some tips on feature writing structure.
  • Our homework for this week – prepare a proposal for our assessment feature!  Now this is going to need some thought!
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