Writing in first person

This piece is in today’s Lantern. Short and powerful. One of my favorites from a Lantern writer. A bit longer, also powerful.

One of my favorite stories. Only time I wrote in first person for the AP as a full-time reporter.

This is one of the better personal experience/memoir pieces I’ve read in a while. The author ran the AP’s political team in DC when I was on the business staff.



1. Numerals are fine. Proper AP style in a story requires you to write: “The man robbed three women at gunpoint.” But the heds for that story could say: 3 women robbed…or Man robs 3 women. The second one is better because “robs” is active while “robbed” is passive.

2. Periods are not needed! Very rare that you will need to use a period in a headline unless you are trying to write complete sentences, which is also rare. A semi-colon can be used to introduce a new thought. For example: Jobless rate hits 10 percent; 2 million people lost jobs in Oct.

3. Almost always OK to replace the word “and” with a comma. For example: Obama, Biden to visit Iraq….or Obama visits Iraq, Iran, Japan, China

4. Heds do NOT need to be complete sentences. See examples above.

5. Avoid question heds, quote heds, etc. They can be effective….RARELY!

6. Make sure the headline accurately portrays the story that follows. Think of them as 50- and 94-character sneak previews, OR PROMISES THAT MUST  BE KEPT.

Articles from USA Today and paidContent about rich tech guys investing in journalism.

I can’t lie, today’s Lantern, especially the front page, is one of my favorites so far this year. What do you think of it? How could it have been improved?


Let’s look at how a few outlets covered the SOTU: Here is the NYT recap. Washington Post. USA Today. The Lantern.

Watch this first.

And then this one.