An alternative to the AP stylebook???

Yahoo now has its own style guide! Find some differences besides the ones mentioned in this article, present them to the class along with your opinion on which is better and why…and get some EC.


Cliches are everywhere, avoid these and others!

Some good (I mean bad) cliches to avoid here.  Make note of cliches in your text and while studying for news quizzes, etc….and AVOID THEM!

BP sending PR folks to Gulf to act like journos??? Midterm material here!

This story has strategic communications implications all over the place! Which do you see?

Basic broadcasting writing rules!!

These are very basic rules for broadcast-style writing. As you’ll see, many of them have been adopted when different people and groups write for the Web, blog, etc.

1. Use active, strong verbs and the present tense is OK if it flows properly in context.

2. Attribution comes first. Joe Doe says….. In print style, we usually put attribution at the end: Blah, blah, blah, said Joe Doe.

3. Phonetic spellings of complex names/words. My last name might look like this on a broadcast sheet: Kat-er-in-eek-ee-uh

4. Short, simple sentences. Even more important in broadcast because someone is reading these words/sentences aloud on camera, into a mic, etc.

5. Rarely use direct quotes. If you must, keep them short, even 2-3 words instead of a complete sentence.

More helpful hints, errors to avoid!

Don’t start sentences with numerals. Check AP style on this. Only exception is when you use a year to start a sentence…and that also should be avoided.

If you must start sentence with a number, like someone’s age, spell it out.
Wrong: 18-year-old Joe Doe said…..
Right: Eighteen-year-old Joe Doe said….

2. News does NOT happen in chronological order. Often, what happened last at an event is the most newsworthy. Think of sporting events or congressional hearings or trials. The beginning and middle are OK, but what do you and most readers really care about? The final score, the final vote, the last answer during tense questioning, the verdict.

3. Don’t rely on your human sources for info you can get from the actual source document or organization. For example, if someone starts quoting from the U.S. Constitution, don’t say that Joe Doe says the Constitution includes a provision that protects XXX. You can quote or paraphrase him and then find the Constitution online…or even in a real library…and confirm it for yourself and your readers.

If a source tells you PETA is now all for people eating meat, wouldn’t you call PETA for comment or at least go to that group’s Web site? You should do that even if the information does not sound odd when someone references another group or organization.

4. A reminder on punctuating quotes. Commas, periods, etc. go inside the quote mark.
Wrong: “I hate Dan’s Comm 421 class”, she said.
Right: “I love Dan’s Comm 421 class,” she said.

Interviewing tips

Some broad, but useful interviewing tips can be found here. Poynter is a great place to look for information about any journalism-related topics that we discuss in class.

Here is another useful article about interviewing tips. Most are perfectly valid for our purposes, except maybe “bring a buddy.”

Some notes on headlines!

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. Sometimes they are, but they do NOT need to be as long as they are clear and accurate.

5. Active verbs are the best! As noted above, the headline: Man robs women at gunpoint… better than….Women robbed at gunpoint…or Man robbed women at gunpoint.

6. If you’re stuck, look around for some headlines that grab you. The AP’s top 4 stories of the day at any given moment can be found here. Sometimes you will see the 50-character version; other times the longer ones.