Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to write good: Part IV - Covering the news

As everyone knows, there are only three ways left to cover the news:

1. Hack into phones.
2. Aggregate the reporting of other journalists, who hacked into phones.
3. Expose other journalists who hacked into phones by hacking into their phones. 

I've left out "tweeting," because you don't need to hack into any phones to tweet, and there are only subtle differences between how a "normal citizen" tweets and how journalists tweet:
Normal person: "Had eggs for breakfast this morning."
Journalist: "Wish I could afford eggs for breakfast this morning."
But what are you supposed to do if you actually have to write an "article" from scratch based on "the facts?" Lord, no!

First of all, forget all about inverted pyramids, meat before attribution, names making news, being objective and dispassionate, the five Ws, verifying that your mother loves you, and finding balance, which are strictly for suckers.

Nope, if you want to cover the news, you just need a shirt, tie, notepad, and as many of these 50 journalism chestnuts you can cram into your story:

1. People say
2. Experts say
3. Sources say
4. Sources close to (someone important) say
5. Spoke on the condition of anonymity
6. Did not wish to be identified
7. Jaws of life
8. Ducats
9. Remains to be seen
10. Tweeted his Weiner
11. Aftermath
12. The white stuff
13. Bogus
14. Go Jets Go!
15. Politics makes strange bedfellows
16. The elephant in the room
17. Tensions flared
18. Had at press time not returned our calls
19. This journalist (referring to self)
20. Clashed with police
21. Death toll
22. Shooting spree
23. Broke her silence
24. Carmageddon
25. (Noun)-gate
26. Allegedly
27. Every parents' nightmare
28. At the end of the day
29. Uneasy calm
30. Political correctness gone awry
31. Winter of discontent
32. Sent shockwaves
33. Bracing themselves for more (fees or whatever)
34. Fat cats
35. Man's best friend
36. Perfect storm
37. Fleecing
38. Making a difference
39. Raised eyebrows
40. Up in arms
41. About face
42. Flip-flopper
43. Outpouring
44. Near miss
45. Horror
46. Downtown crime
47. Thugs (England: yobs)
48. Burn in Hell
49. If you're a fan of (noun), then you'll love (noun).
50. Off of drugs, and high on life.


  1. Skyrocketing (as in property taxes)

    Dutch Matthes

  2. _______ is a land of contrasts (travel features)

    More from Dutch.

  3. Good ones! Also: "Starts now!" and "Good evening - Brian is on vacation tonight."


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