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Category:  Articles » Reference & Education

 

There Is More To Know About Journalism Than I Thought

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         Views: 627
2012-04-03 02:06:17     
Article by Timothy Young

When I decided to make freelance writing a career, I found that the best market was newspaper writing. I did not major in journalism in college, and really didn't understand Associated Press style as well as I probably should have. What I soon found out was that there was a lot more to know about journalism than I originally thought.

One of the first lessons that I learned is that numbers are not written out as numerals unless they are 10 or higher. I remember getting calls about this very issue, because I was writing sports at first and many of the numbers were single digits. My sports editor had to remind me a couple of times that I was to spell out the numbers one through nine.

Another big thing for me to learn about journalism was when to use "more than" versus "over." I was in the habit of writing that something was over $100 or over 500 people showed up for a particular event. It was soon explained to me that it was always "more than a number."

I also had a difficult time learning where to put quote marks and how to properly punctuate them when I first got going. It was kind of frustrating, because I had all these ideas inside of me that were just waiting to get out, but I could not express them.

One other big issue that I had when I first started writing AP style was writing in the second person. I had one editor in particular who really raked me over the coals about that. She said that if I wanted to write for a newspaper, I would have to make sure that I did not make these kinds of mistakes, and even suggested a web site for me that explained some elementary journalism principles - you talk about a humbling experience!

I finally had an editor sit me down and tell me to take my time. She said there was a lot to learn about journalism and it just took time and practice. I followed her advice, and within a month or so I had most of the important things down.

Even after several years of writing, I am still learning things about journalism, and I suppose that will never really go away. I hear my editors talking sometimes and they say they are still learning after decades of being in the journalism field. I just think that anybody going into journalism should prepare themselves for the fact that it is not as easy as one may think, but with work, it is very rewarding.

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