There are rules governing the choice of words in journalistic writing. This means that, as a journalist, a writer, or a media practitioner, there are certain words or writing styles that should be adopted or better still abolished. This is what is termed diction in journalistic writing. From the previous lesson, we got to know about the various journalistic genres in journalistic writing. How do we apply those genres in our journalistic writings? This lesson or article provides the various ways and rules to apply in journalistic writing.
Are words important in journalistic writing?
Now, are words so much important in journalistic writing? Before you answer such a question, you need to ask yourself how writing is made. Writing is made when words are joined together to form sentences. It is the same case in journalistic writing, words convey the meaning of information to the readers. It is therefore important to note that, words play a vital role in journalistic writing. Why then are words so much important in journalistic writing?
Words are used in conveying ideas
Words communicate meaning to readers as it has been stated earlier. Since your readers may have different backgrounds in education, it is advisable to consider the masses than the individual. Using simple and understandable words makes your journalistic piece readable and interesting.
The aim is to communicate effectively through journalistic writing
Every journalistic piece aims to thoroughly communicate ideas to the audience or readers. The choice of words a writer uses in conveying such information would determine if there has been an effective communication of information. When readers are not able to grab the idea you share in your write-up, there is no effective communication at this point.
The focus is not on impressing readers
Yes as a writer there is no doubt that you know more about vocabulary, but it is not advisable to carry such heavy words in your journalistic write-ups to impress your readers. You may succeed in impressing only a few but it doesn’t speak well much of professionalism about your work.
Rules In Journalistic Writing
Certain rules are mandatory for journalistic writers for effective communication with readers. Most of these rules are about the diction in journalistic writing thus the choice of words.
The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English explains jargon as the words and expressions used in a particular profession or by a particular group of people, which are difficult for other people to understand. There are certain words we use in our daily lives that are understood by a particular group of people only. Journalism is one way or the other the serving interest of the masses. Jargons are not prohibited in language but it is against the rules of journalistic writing.
Journalistic write-ups are not meant for a particular group of people but for everyone to be precise therefore, it would be wrong to include words that are understood by few and complicated to the mass.
A practical instance is when a journalist reports on an issue about medicine and includes the medicinal terms without decoding it to the understanding of everyone. You might think including such words in your write-ups will depict the high level of knowledge you carry but you are just passing on some difficulties to your audience or readers. There are some cases in which the journalists themselves may not understand some jargon for them to even decode it; in cases like that, just don’t include such information in your write-up. If you don’t understand what you write, don’t write at all.
Another important rule to note is the spelling. Spelling is just the combination of letters into the correctness of a word. Bad spelling speaks ill about a journalistic write-up. You must go through your journalistic work thoroughly before submitting it for publication. Spelling in this case is not always about the correctness of a word but the kind of English spelling plays a major role. There are two major methods in English spelling; Commonwealth and American English. A journalist writer is allowed to use any of the two but it is wrong to combine the two methods in your write-ups. If you go in for the British or Commonwealth method, kindly stick to that till the end of your writing, if you choose the American method, do the same by sticking to it till the writing ends.
A cliché is defined in the Oxford Learners Dictionary as a phrase or an idea that has been used so often that it no longer has much meaning and is not interesting. Some words have lost their value as a result of usage and that is what is known as a cliché. Including such words in journalistic write-ups makes your piece boring to your readers. An example of a cliché is “What goes round comes round”.
The name itself carries its meaning. Certain words are very troublesome to use; they may confuse the writer and most importantly, the readers as well. These words are often used interchangeably because they either have the same spelling or same pronunciation. A practical example is deceased and diseased; they sound similar but have different meanings in nature. You can avoid these words to save yourself from any confusion to your readers.
Some writers do add extra words to phrases that don’t add any further understanding to them. Such words or phrases make journalistic pieces longer and boring. Remember a journalistic piece must be brief and so including unnecessary words should not be encouraged. An example is waiting for ten years whiles it can be written as waiting for ten years.
All these rules help to ensure clear, brief, and good journalistic write-ups. Journalistic write-ups are not just any write-ups, it informs, persuade, and sometimes entertain. All these functions require more than ordinary writing and that is why it is required of every journalistic writer to follow the rules discussed above for good journalism.
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