Functions of Journalism
In early 1999, Gourav Jaswal conducted a session on the functions of journalism for the editorial team of Chip magazine. These are the raw notes I made during that class. Functions of journalism:
Enable decision making
Agent of change
Cause the reader to:
Know your reader. Agenda must be only based on reader interest.
What makes you stop? The Headline.
Immersion, Structure, Tone, Voice/Opinion, Character/Personality, Balance
Be unafraid of outrageous statements, but back them up with facts.
A magazine is a group of people interested in and knowledgeable about a subject, talking to a larger group of interested people.
The best magazines in the world: readers feel that they are written for only one person — themselves.
Make the reader think.
Preferably use real examples.
Use timelines where applicable. Content should be designed for browsers rather than readers. Writing:
Think a lot for the lead.
Conclusion should be a tie-back, it should link back to the focus, giving a feeling of completion.
Stages: Information gathering, planning, writing, checking.
Objectives are determined by the limitations of space, the section/sub-section, and the reader profile. What is your objective?
First thought on basic design elements.
Begin research. Discard research material when short of space.
Organise the text material and make a structure.
Identify the unusual, informative and entertaining in the text and put it into the appropriate form (boxes, main text, intro/close etc.
Finalise the elements.
Writing: Attribution (source, preferably creditable), identification, background.
Identification: elements, scenes, facts. Identify and bring out importance.
Background: a fact should be obvious to all, it should have meaning and importance for the generic reader.
Selecting and eliminating facts.
Types of leads:
The 5W&H lead (what, who, where, when, why and how).
Blind lead. Partial info in the first sentence. Partial info in the second. The first is the attention grabber. The second is the less relevant.
Delayed identification lead (where facts are identified late).
Questioning lead. Maybe even rhetorical.
Emperative lead (ordering lead).
Direct address (combination of above two types).
Word play (play around with words).
Reference and allusion.
Simple provocative statement.
Stage directions (ex: 9:30 AM on a cold morning…, 9:45 AM…, describe scenario, not always related to time).
Narrative (plain, simple lead).
Anecdote (little interesting factual story).
Contrast lead (compare two).
Descriptive (close to narrative).
Chronology (very close to narrative but strongly based on time).
Ecletic (another way to say miscellaneous).
Illustration: Verbal illustration of event.
Detail: More detail in less words. Detail should be consistent too.
Description: Describe things, short, tense, terse. Construction of sentences makes the difference.
Example: Real ones.
Anecdotes: Small little things, peppered around the article.
Quotes: Get (exclusive) quotes and dialogs into the article.
Literary Devices: Metaphors and similies.
Creative Closing: Similar to lead.
Numbers and figures:
Do not abuse these qualifiers.
Do not use incomprehensible numbes.
Do not make meaningless comparisons.
Do not extrapolate.
Explain the significance of those numbers.
Give meaningful analogies (important).
Each sentence should be very clear, such that it should cast a shadow. Paragraphs:
One fact to a sentence, one idea to a paragraph. Change...
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