As a former news editor for my college paper, I’ve found that one of the most common and costly mistakes new student journalists make is writing their news stories like they would write an essay for class. I’ve done the same when I first started writing for my college paper. However, there is no surer way in losing your readers than by opting for an academic writing style and format in your news stories.
Newspaper audiences are generally in a hurry and not completely attentive. Those who read online are even more likely to be distracted. You will lose readers if you weigh your writing down with academic jargon and long, chunky paragraphs—elements common in academic papers.
As students, we were trained in academic writing long before we even began writing for our school newspapers. So, it comes as no surprise that many student journalists find it difficult to transition into a completely different writing style.
Below are a few ways new student journalists use academic writing style in their news writing. I outline simple ways you can prevent academic writing style from creeping into your news writing.
[FREE outline template available for download at the end]
Ah, the dreaded outline. Most of us hate the outlines our English teachers made us write. However, when done correctly, outlines can do most of the writing for us.
There are many types and formats when it comes to outlines, but no single format is perfect or the “right” one. The outlines you use should:
-be easy to use
-help you structure and organize your paper
-be effective tools in planning your essay.