J-Skills: Editing exercises

    Journalistic Format

    "Save" vital work while writing. Before rewriting, "save as" story2, and work in story2.

    Backup important files on a disk or on a hard drive.
    Share your work with your mentor or instructor by printout or e-transfer. If using attachments or using different computers, use compatible word processing programs or use Rich Text Format. ["Save as" storyR. Change "file type" to RTF. Attach storyR.] Or "copy" and "paste" in e-mail message.

    01start [use this storyname] Find good leads.       [JQG: "News Tasks"]

    Before editing, identify the Five W’s and an H in the leads of news stories. For practice, use a a printed newspaper. Put a "I" over the "Who?" and a "II" over the "What?" The "IV" for "Where?" may go over the city name or a word such as "here." Note that most of the Roman numerals appear in order:

I. Who? II. What? III. When? IV. Where? V. Why? VI. How?

    Note that not all of the Five W's and an H will be used. Then use the newspaper to find the Five W’s in several delayed summary sentences.

    Search several newspapers on the Web [not TV networks, not tightly written USA Today] for examples of good newspaper leads and openings. Check out some favorites at NewsPlace.org: News. [Web pages may open in a different window.]

    Find two examples of event-oriented ("hard news") leads that set up an inverted pyramid story, which moves from the most important information to the least important. "Copy" and "paste" the lead. [ How to copy part of a Web page to your word processor. ]
    Add the newspaper name and date. Say why you think each story is effective.

    Next, find two examples of timeless-feature ("soft news") opening sections with a delayed summary sentence and a news peg. "Copy" and "paste" the opening through its summary sentence and news peg. Provide the newspaper name and date. Say why you think each story is effective.

    02compare Compare news coverage.       ["Writing"]

    To see how news coverage of the same event changes, answer the questions
    at "The Big Haze 1997" (Comparing International News Coverage).

    Look at "One story, three markets" (Comparing Local News Coverage).

    03journ Edit a news story       ["Rewriting"]

    "Copy" and "paste" this to your word processor. "Save" as 03journ. Edit it. It is a news
    story for a general audience based on parts 1 and 2 of "Newswriting."
  Reporters "should make use of a journalistic formula," which is known as the Five W's
and an H to write and to organize their news stories, a journalism professor today told
journalism students here at Good Grammar Univ.
  "Start with your Five W’s outline." I agree that this is good advice. He went on, "Use
that outline to write the opening sentence, and then use that same outline to organize
your story."
  I realized that we can't manage or manipulate to use all of them. Professor Avi Bass
of Northern Illinois University told the students all about the Five W-s. "They are: Who?
What? When? Where? Why? and How?"
    For practice, bold every transition word. Italicize every attribution ("he said"), for both
    direct quotations (with quote marks) and paraphrased ones (without).
    Use an endmark: ###

    Save. Share with your editor/instructor. After seeing comments, "save as" 03journ2
    to keep your earlier version. Rewrite and resubmit.

    04(insert company) Rewrite a public relations story     ["Rewriting"]

    Pick your own choice at PR. "Copy" and "paste" a release to your word processor. Restructure, rewrite, shorten.

    05grammar Interactive fun       ["Grammar"]

    Review Grammar Repair. Online exercises at Grammar Matters.

    Joe Smith's car. Joe's and Mary's jobs (two jobs). Joe and Mary's kitchen (one kitchen).
    Smith. the Smiths (plural). the Smiths' home (first plural, then possessive apostrophe).

    Take the Grammar quiz based on "Grammar Repair" and the online grammar exercises.

    06stylebook Up or down, short or long       ["J-Stylebook"]

    Review the stylebook chapter at Grammar Repair. Online exercises, a quiz and an exam at exercises.

    See the NIU Northern Star Stylebook for a student newspaper supplementary stylebook.
    And see the NIU Editor's Manual for a campus-level stylebook.

    07heads Practice writing headlines.       ["Rewriting"]

    Write practice headlines to see if a headline writer will find your focus.
    Write a head as a sentence with a subject and verb, a mini-summary, but drop the helping verb "is." Try to keep a phrase on the same line. Use digits 1-9.

    A headline count has an identical range for each line of the head. [11-13]
        Heads may be [12]     Heads May Be [13]
        in ‘down-style’ [12]     In ‘Up-Style’ [11]

    Headline Counts [count=14]
    small letters = 1     small l,i,f,t = ˝     small m and w = 1˝
    CAPITALS = 1˝     CAPITAL I = 1     CAPITAL M & W = 2
    digit 1 = ˝     other digits = 1    space and punctuation = ˝

    Work first with pencil and paper. Then, type the heads for 03journ and 04(insert company) on the same page. Make each two lines, down style, 22-25 count on each line.
        Glenn returns to hometown [23]
        to celebrate mission in space [24˝]

    Type each headline at 18 or 24 points for a nice display. Show the count for each line.
    Print the page and request approval. Resubmit.

    08tips2 Tips

    Look at Plagiarism. See Watch Your Language [diversity awareness (in center box)].

    Explain why "who" is correct. Explain what "she said" is.
    The man whom she loved and who she said was there was not there.
    [him she loved]   [him she said was there]   [he she said was there]


Professor Avi Bass (abass@niu.edu), Northern Illinois University, NewsPlace.org

"Journalism Step by Step" and "Grammar Repair" are the companion booklets to this Web page. ©azb 2002, 2014