The Writing of the News – A Book Review

Today, the news isn’t what it used to be and many of America’s newspapers are closing down. You can pick up any of the newspapers in the country and a third of the content will be exactly the same, as fewer and fewer reporters have jobs, and more information is picked up from the AP as filler. It’s hard to say in the future if there will even be newspapers, many have predicted their demise for a long time, and unfortunately, that potential eventuality is looking more and more real each day.
If topics about news writing concern you, if you find this a fascinating topic, or if you are a writer or reporter I’d like to recommend a very good book to you on this subject. The name of the book is;
“News Reporting and Writing” by the Missouri Group, and The School of Journalism; University of Missouri at Columbia, 1988.
In part one of this book, it talks about the philosophy and methods for accurate and fair reporting. It also explains the damage which can be done by biased reporting, or by reporters who have a hidden agenda. Indeed, I was pleased to see this series of chapters in part one that dealt with ethics in the news media, something I believe today is lacking, of course this book was written 20 years ago.
In part two of this book they talk about ways to gather information for writing and in the next part they explain the importance of good writing, and basic skills. It also talks about sources, protected sources, searching for the news, and complex stories. Part four, five and six of this book it is all about applying the techniques to create the news.
In part seven there are case studies which are very interesting. One interesting notation was that of 514 local stories only 11 of those appeared in other newspapers, and one has to ask why. There are many factors for this such as the impact on other areas, the proximity, the timeliness of other stories that were similar for their communities, the novelty of the story, and the amount of human conflict. It talked a lot about the secondary news cycles, where stories were given a fresh slant.
This is a very interesting book to read, and one that I have in my writing library. If you plan on writing about current events, current affairs, news, or even political events, I recommend that you own this book. Indeed, I hope you’ll please consider this.