Introduction to writing for Media

Introduction to Media Writing
This course is about writing -- first and foremost, how to write well in a professional environment. Secondly, it’s about how learning how to write in the major forms of writing for various mass media.

This course is important -- possibly one of the most important that you will take. Why?
  • Writing is central to all media industries.
  • Writing is the mark of a well educated person.
  • Writing is a powerful activity. The ability to control and articulate ideas and information gives you power over what other people know and think about.
What’s different?
"But I’ve had English 101 and 102. Why do I need this course?"

a typical student

This course is different from all other writing course that you have had in two important ways:

First, we emphasize information. The major purpose of writing for the mass media is to present information.

Second, one of the purposes of this course is to teach you how to write in a professional environment. That is, we want you to understand what the demands of professionalism are and what you will need to meet those demands.

Third, writing in a media environment usually means writing for a mass audience. Chances are, a lot of people are going to read or hear or see what you write (not just your English professor). Understanding that audience is a big part of learning to write for the mass media.

Finally, there is the concept of modesty. By that we mean that good writing for the mass media puts the writer in the background and emphasizes instead the content of the writing. An audience doesn’t care what you think or how you feel about what you are writing. The audience wants information, and it wants that information presented accurately, completely, efficiently and precisely.

Four characterictics of media writing

And those are the four characteristics of media writing

  • accuracy
  • completeness
  • efficiency
  • precision

Accuracy is the chief requirment of a writer for the mass media. This is not just a journalist’s requirement. All writers are expected to present informaiton accurately and to take some pains in doing so. Many of the procedures for writing for the mass media are set up to ensure accuracy.

Completeness means that you should present your information in a context so that it can be easily understood by a mass audience. It should be clear and coherent. Your writing should answer all of the questions that could be expected by the audience. (Not all of the questions that could be asked, but all those that it takes to understand the information.)

Efficiency is one of the most prized writing characteristics. Efficiency means using the fewest words to present you information accurately and clearly. Efficiency is difficult to achieve because

  • most of us write inefficiently, especially on first draft
  • most of use do not do a good job in editing our writing
  • the world is filled with inefficient writing, and we often fall victim to it.
Precision means that as a writer, you take special care with the language. You know good grammar and practice it. You use words for precisely what they mean. You develop a love for the language.

As a developing professional, you should strive to make your writing

  • satisfactory, to your audience and to you as a writer
  • engaging, so that the audience will stop, attend
  • powerful, so you can make a difference in the lives of your readers and listeners

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