And now, another instalment of words that make me go “hmmm”. Newswriting is a tricky business. It’s usually done to the fast ticking of a clock to deadline which is why editors are so important.
A newspaper headline the other day read: Thousands Flee From Volcano! Really? Flee means to run from. You don’t need to say “from” after “flee”. That’s like ATM machine or the NDP Party. I heard you the first time!
Over-writing plagues the news business. Any good news writer knows it is much more difficult to write short than it is to write long. Anyone can make a story meandering and frilly but it takes skill to strip away the cliches and filler and make it compelling and clear.
Buildings don’t “suffer” damage, they get damaged. Athletes don’t “see” a win, they just win. The stock market doesn’t “hope” for a market-mover – only people can hope. Stephen King says that after the first draft of a novel you should be able to edit at least 10% of the words out of it, to make it clearer. I’d say the same goes for a news story. The second pass is extremely important. Virtually every time I came around to a story I’d written earlier in the morning, I could find something to cut or change to make it better. Writing, like life, isn’t a destination – it’s a journey. It’s a process.