In the past I have never been the biggest fan of writing because it requires a lot of time and effort to create anything remotely good. I signed up for this class because it was something I was interested in majoring in it. My advisor described it as a class focused on writing smaller pieces and articles, so I thought it wouldn’t be too hard. I learned very early on that couldn’t be further from the truth. I recognized that just because news articles may shorter in length doesn’t mean it takes any less time or effort than a regular essay. If anything these articles require more planning, time and effort. This type of writing is very unique and involves lots of experience to get the hang of it. This semester I’ve picked up many skills to help me become a better writer, but the most impactful have been learning about interviewing, different news writing formats and correct grammar and punctuations.
A strong, credible news article needs sources to help the reader obtain a better perspective on the story as well to add news value. The process of getting a source takes many different forms depending on the context of the article. The writer may have to attend events and interview people at the sight, or reach out to sources and organize and interview. This class required me to step out of my comfort zone and talk to complete strangers. In the end though I think it really helped my social skills and in the future I will feel more comfortable reaching out whether it be for school or my career. The next step after finding a source and arranging a time to talk is creating interview questions. This class made me realize a lot more thought needs to be put into the creation of your interview questions. You need to make sure they are worded correctly so they make sense to the interviewee. These questions need to be formatted so that the interviewee will give you a substantial response. I eventual would have people read over my questions because they pointed out questions that didn’t make sense or could’ve been worded more professionally. Another very important part of interviewing is making sure to record it or to take notes during it. That way after you can review the interview to find quotes to use in your article. These quotes really help to shape your article so it’s very important you follow the entire process correctly to gain the most beneficial responses from your source. The whole interview process taught me multiple skills that I can carry out into the future. For example, in my communications class I needed to interview someone and incorporate it into my paper. Since I had so much practice in this class, I felt way more prepared and new exactly what steps I needed to take. These techniques aren’t limited to just writing and can be applied to so many different aspects of my education and eventually my career.
Another aspect of news writing that makes it so uniques is its writing format. Since I was in seventh grade I have written in almost one format made up of an introduction paragraph, a thesis statement, body paragraphs and a conclusion paragraph. News style formats though are completely different and I learned may different formats throughout this semester. This includes the inverted pyramid style, kabob style and the wall street journal style. These are all different, but make up a similar idea of how an article should appear. First off each story needs a lede, and this lead needs to be concise and attention grabbing. Writing a lede is very difficult because the reader needs to be engaged by the first five words. When I first started practicing how to write a lede I was completely stumped. I would write something then delete it, and would repeat this process over and over again. It was so challenging to include all the elements needed to create a strong lede. I never thought typing out 35 words could be so difficult. A lede is a prime example of me realizing how challenging news writing can really be. Articles also are made up of many little paragraphs that should only contain information the reader wants and needs to know. This means taking a large story with lots of detail and breaking it down to only contain the key elements. This requires the writer to determine what the reader needs to know, and to have their main focus on audience. Everything you write needs to be focused on the audience and this starts by determining your audience. This also means this isn’t reflective on your opinion, but strictly fact based. After learning about bias in writing I thought it would be easy to keep my opinion out of my writing, but I would add it without even realizing it. News writing is very different than most essays I’ve written but has caused me to realize how I can apply these tips to any of my writing. For example, news writing is highly-focused on the audience but any piece of writing has some kind of audience. For any future writing assignments I am going to focus a lot more on who I am writing to instead of just focusing on my main idea. Adjusting my writing to a specific audience can even help me get a main idea across more effectively. This writing format yet again showed me how news articles are a lot more challenging to write and require a lot of practice to be successful at it.
The last main skill this class taught me is focusing on grammar and punctuation, as well as the importance of editing. Whenever writing a paper I never take enough time to go back and revise my work. I quickly will skim through it and I end up missing so many little grammatical and punctuation errors. After getting some grades back in this class I realized how these errors were effecting my work. These errors made my work appear a lot more sloppy and unprofessional. An article needs to be appear credible and messing up something as simple as grammar reflects very badly on the author. The one thing in this class that helped me improve my grammar and punctuation was the AP Stylebook. After I started using it I realized how uneducated I was on all of it. I didn’t even realize all the rules of how to use commas and semi-colons correctly. Even though I still have a long ways to go on correcting my grammar and punctuation, I do know I am a lot stronger writer from this class. I can carry out available tools from this class in future writings assignment. I can use the AP Stylebook to help edit any future writing assignments and after enough practice I will start to pick up on the rules.
After only a semester of this class I can truly say this was the most challenging writing course I have ever taken. I am so glad I took it though because I have learned so much, and realized how much room for growth I have to become a stronger writer. After reading the feedback I got on assignment in the class, I realized all of the careless mistakes I made from not putting in enough time and effort. Not only did this class expand my abilities as a writer, but also as a person. I have gained so many social skills, and feel more confident stepping out of my comfort zone to talk to new people. It has also helped me come closer to determining what I want to major in by realizing the skills that will be expected of me to have a career in this field. Overall the knowledge and experience I have gained from this class has made me grow so much respect for anyone working in this field. There is so much work that goes into it that cannot be seen by the reader, and because of that I will not make quick judgements about things until being properly educated on it.