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The World of Journalism - Writing

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The World of Journalism (people, kinds of texts, cultural information) & a Project
by michelle
The World of Journalism & a Project! worddoc (2+2 worksheets on passives and headlines; 4 pages)

The World of Newspapers

1. Newspaper people!
The editor (director) is in charge of the content of the newspaper. He or she calls daily meeting with the newspaper's staff to discuss which stories should appear, where they should go and what the newspaper's line should be on the particular subject. Journalists can be columnists (fixed space for writing their opinions) or journos (slang; writing articles).

2. Paper contents
A newspaper runs stories written by journalists, who refer to them as their pieces. Editorials express the paper's opinion or line on a particular issue.

bullet News articles: According to the inverted-pyramid presentation of contents (who, what, why, when, where, how) the point comes first and then it is expanded following the order of relevance of the other facts. This structure allows readers to learn the most relevant points without reading the whole article and editors to cut articles which are too long without harming the shape or meaning of the piece. Literary journalism breaks this traditional structure of the inverted pyramid and tries to write from the witnesses point of view, to engage readers most and convey a more comprehensive picture of reality.

bullet Editorial letters: Readers express their opinions.

bullet News report: The structure is the following:

1. Lead: a catchy lead sets the scene and grabs the attention
2. Billboard: a sentence or paragraph outlines the main ideas and thesis
3. Development: main ideas are developed chronologically or thematically
4. Kicker: a forward-looking conclusion reinforces the thesis

Suggested Activities: Discussion analyzing different papers/newsletters and the role of journalists in our society. Writing a news article and/or an editorial letter and/or a news report.

3. Paper process and types
This may vary a great deal depending on the country and resources. There are important differences between the daily press (and between tabloids and full-format papers), the weekly press and monthly publications. Computers and sophisticated programs have simplified the traditional processes to a great extent.

Suggested Activities: Discussion/Writing: What do you know about the process of publishing papers, magazines, newsletters? Can you interview people who are involved in that?

4. Cultural info

bullet The Yellow Press: Outcault was a cartoonist working for The New York World in the 1880s, a paper owned by Joseph Pulitzer. Using the latest technological advancements in the paper, they created the comic strip The Yellow Kid, about a bald and toothless child from the slums of New York in a baggy yellow shirt. Pulitzer was trying to create a "democratic newspaper" alternating reports on social problems with crimes and stories "of human interest". In 1895, a former employee of Pulitzer's , William Randolph Hearst, created The New York Journal and hired Outcault. Pulitzer hired another cartoonist to do The Yellow Kid and so this character appeared in both papers. The competition between Hearst and Pulitzer exploited sensationalism, and all the papers doing so became known as The Yellow Press. (Bibliography: Bermeosolo, F., El origen del periodismo amarillo , 1962.)

bullet Fleet Street: A street in London where Britain's national papers concentrated before the 1980s. Rupert Murdoch is known as the "press baron" for he owes several papers and other media interests. Progressist people see him as one of the big fish of mass manipulation. Bibliography: Bordzy, V. (ed.), Fleet Street: The Inside Story of Journalism, 1966.

bullet Quality papers: Quality papers sometimes support investigation into fishy or unfair matters by concerned journalists. True quality papers are concerned with objectivity and plurality. They resort to reasoned analysis and avoid sensationalism or the exploitation of prejudices.

Their 10 commandments are:
1. Wide and profound information of international affairs, economy, arts, science and education.
2. Use of an interpretative kind of journalism: articles are presented with essential background info.
3. Typographic seriousness.
4. Absence of sensationalism.
5. Predominance of news reports and articles analyzing affairs.
6. Cultural tone that eliminates populism.
7. Impartial, complete and honest treatment of the news: serious points of view.
8. Imagination, morality and interest for human and democratic problems.
9. Excellent editorials.
10. News avoid any kind of "localism".

bullet Investigative Journalism: Investigative reporting is a style of journalism deeper than most daily news journalism. It uses research techniques to pursue in-depth stories. A well-known example of this was the Watergate scandal, out of which a film was made starred by Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford (see next section) .
More information: IRE external link Investigative Reporters and Editors, a grassroots nonprofit organization formed in 1975 in the USA and dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting, and the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism external link. Bibliography: Lifting the Lid: A Guide to Investigative Research (Cassell Global Issues Series) by David Northmore, 1996; Investigative Journalism: Context and Practice by Hugo De Burgh (Editor), 2000; Investigative Reporting: A Study in Technique (Journalism Media Manual) by David Spark, 1999.

Suggested Activities: Compare an alleged quality paper and a sensational paper in your community, watch and analyze the film on the Watergate scandal or list subjects which could be investigated for the public knowledge. See next page for examples.

Investigative and Literary Journalism
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: All the President's Men, book, 1974. The film was starred by Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford and directed in 1974 by Alan J. Pakula. In 1972 they published an investigation of the Watergate break-in in The Washington Post. An example of literary journalism, which actually investigates an issue is Norman Mailer's book The Armies of the Night, 1968, on a march to the Pentagon against war. Nick Ut: Photograph of a burning girl running from a napalm attack, The Associated Press, 1972.