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writing

Every News Story On The Internet Right Now Could Be 300 Words Shorter

AP_logoOk, so while longwinded Upworthy-style headlines are in vogue right now, so should be tighter editing. Earlier this week, Erik Wemple reported on an AP memo announcing a move to start “policing” story length. Daily bylines digest stories should be around 300-500 words and top, ‘global’ stories should never exceed 700, unless it’s necessary and still ‘tightly edited.’ I’m all about it. Some reasons managing editor Brian Carovillano wants them shorter?

1) Good stuff is drowning in a ‘sea of bloated, mid level copy.’ I know we’re all supposed to be all about ‘longform,’ but it seems like everything I read these days is at least two paragraphs (or pages, if you’re The New Yorker) too long. One day when I have a free weekend, I’m going to compile my evidence, but for now it remains a hypothesis: I think a lot of us are writing too much to seem more serious and in-depth so as not to appear too beholden to the ‘clickiness’ of the Internet. Yes, we can do serious journalism on mobile and digital-first platforms. But it can also be concise. Read more

2014 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference to Highlight Science, Tech Writing

maybornI’m a big believer in journalism conferences. Attending one forces you to focus on your craft for a few days and is an incredible opportunity to talk to people who are smarter than you and can help you in your career (I guess that’s what they call networking, but I just hate that word).

That said, the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is one of the best, in my opinion. I love technology and gadgets and doodads just as much as the next millennial, but it’s nice sometimes to forget about apps, tablets and wearables for a second and hone in on the extremely basic yet oh-so-difficult craft of writing. Not to mention, it’s much less stressful than SXSW, which will matter to you if you’re not a crowds person.

Anyway, the Mayborn, sponsored by the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The conference’s theme this year is “Narratives on the cutting edge:  writing about science, technology, medicine and innovation,” and the program boasts an impressive list of accomplished writers.

Read more

Knight Center Announces Free Online Investigative Journalism Class

knight invest. journo post picIf you’ve ever wanted to learn the nuts and bolts of investigative reporting, here’s your chance, courtesy of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

A five-week, massive open online course (MOOC) on “Investigative Journalism for the Digital Age,” will begin on May 12 and end on June 14, 2014. Read more

Do We Need Open Interviews?

redcurtainI realize that I may have harped a bit on Vox.com recently, but that’s because it’s new and doing work worth noticing. This week, via a tweet from Jay Rosen, I noticed that they had a toggle feature on an article. You can read the story and then toggle over to see where the pull quotes came from.

It’s a cool feature and one that I think many journo professors and media navel gazers think is necessary. We used to edit because we were limited to column inches. You can fit everything and anything on your website — so why not go for full disclosure? I get it. Open interviews are good for transparency, add value and all of that.

But is everything really fit to print? Read more

AP To Spell Out State Names, Reporters Complain on Twitter

ap tweetThe AP announced that it will start to spell out state’s names in stories. That’s annoying, if only because I’ve finally got my abbreviations down.

Two things:

1) I get that it’s about clarity, but what about character limits? Does anyone prefer spelling state names out? If you read the full memo, it seems more confusing than not.

2) Since my gut reaction is “why bother? I’m thinking the AP is out of date. Buzzfeed says to lowercase ‘internet,’ and the AP says to capitalize it. In an increasingly mobile and digital first world, why don’t we make things easy and more conversational?

I’m not the only one who’s unimpressed, either. Share your AP woes with us in the comments or tweet them to us @10,000Words.

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