As we mentioned in 3.0, different types of writings have their peculiar forms or styles. It is also of great importance to mention that the techniques used for publication have slight differences according to the different genres. While some of these techniques are adequate for scholarly writings, they may not be used for certain types of writings. Most scholarly writings, however, adhere strictly to the use of the following techniques.
(A) Choose a topic
It is important to choose a topic that captures what one intends to write or the message he intends to pass on to the audience. In essence, the choice of topic is relative to the story and purpose. The topic should also be relevant, and interesting to the audience. It should be captivating to attract their attention.
(B) State the purpose
One should state the purpose of writing. The purpose determines the type of information or data that the writer needs to gather. It also determines the type of arrangement that will be used for the write-up. The purpose should be relevant to the audience.
(C) Restrict the topic
The writer should restrict the topic to suit the available space, materials, and time. To fit into the number of pages available, the writer should consider, from the beginning, a topic that can accommodate the space and the materials available for use.
(D) Write the outline
At this level, the writer should write an outline bearing in mind the topic and purpose of writing. The first outline might be rough so it should be edited to produce a fine copy that will be used for the writing.
(E) Collect the data
Writing for publication demands that one presents facts. So, he needs to carry out scholarly investigations. This entails gathering data from various sources available to the writer. This is sourcing for information. There are many sources for data gathering. These include the primary sources (e.g., interviews, questionnaires), secondary sources (e.g., books, journals), and e-sources (internet, e-library).
(F) Organize the data
After the data collection, the data should be organized. The most relevant to the topic should be separated from the less relevant. The data should also be arranged according to the manner of use to attain unity and have an organized structure.
The writer should write a draft using the final copy of the outline and the data collected. The draft should contain the relevant information of the write-up considering the purpose and the audience. The choice of language should accommodate the audience as well as be suitable for the topic. The draft is not the final copy, hence it should be subjected to further review and editing.
As we mentioned above the draft should be reviewed and edited. At this point, every unnecessary detail should be removed, and the writer should confirm if the choice of register is appropriate for the type of writing done. Also, the language used should have clarity. It should be concise and coherent as well. The tone should fit the subject matter. In essence, there should be a unity of thought. The writer should also confirm if the length of the write-up fits the number of pages available for the publication.
There is a need to document all the materials used for the write-up. The sources of data should be properly acknowledged or referenced to show that the materials are not the writer’s own. This is important so that he will not be accused of intellectual theft.
(J) The Final Copy
At this level, the writer produces the final copy of the write-up. The writer should check out the layout, and its correctness. He should also use the outline to confirm that no section of the write-up is omitted.
In this section, we shall discuss some prominent types of media writings. These are News, Articles/ Features, Editorials, and Letters to the editor.
News is an account of events. It is new information, reports on significant activities, or the account of current happenings. News provides information for the public. It is relative to the events being reported. It states specifically the nature and situation of an event. News is accurate, concise, factual, balanced, simple, readable, and unambiguous. The norms of society are considered while writing news.
Conditions for News Value
The following criteria should be considered to confirm if an event, activity, or story is newsworthy.
News should be what has just occurred. It should be something new. If it is delayed it will become stale.
It should be relevant, and the information should include places that are familiar and of interest.
Important situations and people make instant news. News should be prominent to attract the attention of the public hence it should contain important information.
Events that have consequences, implications, or direct influence on man make instant news. For instance, news on employment, shelter, and food will attract attention.
Issues of conflict attract attention be it social, religious, or political. For example, insurgency and religious crisis.
(F) Human Interest
Sensitive or social activities also attract attention. News should consider human interest.
Unexpected events or something that is hardly possible attracts attention.
Sources of News
One can get news from the events or happenings around him. For example, sports and different types of occasions.
Research is an important source of news. It occurs when the researcher follows a laid down format and methodology for investigation and arrives at findings that add new information to knowledge.
The interview also provides a source for news. It enables one to get facts about a particular thing or situation.
The interest of the audience also influences what the reporter looks out for. For example, societal trends in social media sometimes reflect the interest of the people and attract a reporter.
A reporter’s opinion or idea can also be a source of news especially when he is objective and accurate.
Techniques for Writing News
The techniques for writing news differ in some ways from other forms of writings because of the nature of news and its sense of urgency. A writer of news does not have much time like the other writers because If the news is delayed it becomes stale as it’s no longer new information.
The techniques for writing news include unity of language, block paragraphing, and the inverted pyramid.
(A) Unity of language
The words and sentences are related. Also, the professional registers are used explicitly, or with understanding. There is unity in language use.
(B) Block paragraphing
Writers use block paragraphs to write news. There is adequate development of the topic sentence to make a paragraph. The sentences are related and have a unity of thought.
(C) Inverted Pyramid
The inverted pyramid is a type of technique that journalists use to write news. It utilizes the 5 Ws and H. that is, what (topic), who (people involved) where (place), when (time) why (motive), and how (how did it happen). The writer answers all the questions while writing the news.
This method allows the reporter to present news in a logical order of inverted pyramid (descending order of importance). This format also allows the writer to present the important details first and then the less important details, still less important details, and the concluding paragraph.
Components of News
The components of news include the headline, lead, and body.
This is a catchy or captivating title of a reporter’s writing. The headline provides a summary of the storyline. The presentation of the headline accommodates the house style of the media house. The writer presents the headline in the present tense.
The lead comes immediately after the headline. It is the crux of the story that the reporter intends to write. The lead attracts the attention and interest of the reader. It sets the tone of the news report and accommodates the entire information the writer presents in the body. There are many types of leads. Some of these include bullet lead, summary lead, contrast lead, and chronological lead.
(i) Bullet lead
This is usually brief and concise. The writer expresses it with a few words. He addresses the main issues with just a few words.
(ii) Summary lead
The summary lead as the name indicates allows the writer to summarize key terms. It is used to report events in a crowded program.
(iii) Contrast lead
The writer uses contrast lead to present opposite ideas or events. He states the contrast clearly.
(iv) Chronological lead
As the name implies, writers use chronological lead to present news in a sequential order to give the audience an insight into the story.
The body magnifies the lead. The writer presents news in the chronological and logical order of the inverted pyramid (see the inverted pyramid chart). He presents it in descending order of importance. The important details are presented first, followed by the less important, still less important, and then the concluding paragraph.
Articles/Features are multi-paragraphed and creative journalistic essays written on contemporary topics, ideas, events, or issues. The write-up is creative as well as objective. It does not depend on the writer’s opinion but on good research to get its facts. The essay deals with prominent or relevant subject matters. Its language use is easy and accessible. It aims to inform, instruct, or advise.
Techniques for writing articles/features
A feature writer follows the general techniques of writing for publication (see 3.1). This is because he needs to have enough information on the topic of discussion. The writer does not rely on personal knowledge but endeavors to carry out research to be able to present facts.
Characteristics of Articles/Features
(1) Features instruct, inform, and advise.
(2) There is no specified length for this type of write-up. The writer is expected to limit his writing to fit into the available space as required by the publisher.
(3) Features have multi-paragraphs.
(4) They contain facts.
(5) They have some elements of creativity.
(6) The language use is simple to suit the public.
(7) There is a unity of thought and clarity.
(8) The important facts are presented first.
(9) Some stylistic devices like suspense and logical reasoning are utilized.
Format for writing articles
The format for articles/features includes the lead, details, and conclusion. A feature/ article starts with the lead. The lead captures the attention and interest of the audience. The writer utilizes the suspended interest format to capture the attention of the audience. This interest is increased as the writer builds it up through the paragraphs and then concludes the write-up.
Categories and types of article/feature writing
We shall concentrate on two major categories. These are the analytical feature and the human-interest feature.
(1) The Analytical feature
The analytical features are those writings that rely on facts, objectivity, logic, and analysis. The language use is scholarly.
(i) The media essay
This type of essay is a journalistic feature/article. The essay is usually an analytical essay on an interesting subject. It may provide information that educates, inspires, or entertains the audience. The media essay can adapt any style like the descriptive, argumentative, narrative, expository, or discursive. It can as well be satirical or humorous. It deals with topical issues that cut across disciplines. The language is scholarly.
(ii) The Expose
The media essay and expose have close similarities. Both contain factual evidence that the writer uses to inform, instruct, or persuade, but the expose’s uniqueness relies on the investigation. Expose is investigative journalism. It might sometimes lead to revealing scandals.
(iii) The Column
Columns are partitions or spaces in newspapers and magazines that professional journalists employ to practice their trade. A column can accommodate any form of media essay. In essence, they can discuss any topic or subject matter here. Writings by columnists reflect knowledge, experience, and communicative skills. Columnists are not restricted to any style of writing, but they are expected to be artistic and witty.
(iv) The Business Piece (How to do it)
One can call this type of writing “teach yourself.” They involve the descriptions of how someone can do something or how one can achieve something following the manuals. They are the directions the writer gives someone on how to do particular things. We can see the business piece in the business columns of newspapers and magazines.
(v) The review
Writers use reviews to provide the highlight of a new book. They are summaries of the literary features and merits of a book. This is different from literary appreciation or critical analysis of a literary work. Most newspapers and magazines have columns carved out for the arts. The reviewer follows some laid down rules to review a book. The details provided by the reviewer of a book include the title, name of the author, name of the reviewer, number of chapters or pages, particulars of the publisher, date of publication, the review itself (i.e. explication of the theme, plot, characterization, setting and some others/ reviewers opinion).
(2) Human interest features
This type of writing revolves around humans. The primary interest is to elicit human interest, sustain and celebrate it. The following are some types of human interest features.
(i) Personality Sketch
This is a compressed biography of a person. It could be the profile of a poor, wealthy, or physically challenged person. This is considered feature writing because of the unique achievement of the personality being discussed, which has set him apart as an icon.
(ii) The interview
The interview involves a one-on-one dialogue session. The writer interviews the personality he intends to write his story. There are two types of approaches to this. They are the question and answer approach and the self-review.
(a) The question and answer approach
In this type of approach direct questions are asked by the interviewer. This allows the interviewer to be in control of the proceedings. But sometimes the questions may agitate the responder especially if he did not have prior knowledge of them. At the end of the interview, the writer rewrites the responses in an orderly manner, with clarity, maintaining the words and the opinion of the person he interviewed.
(b) The self-review
The self-review is a friendly approach to the interview because it allows the respondent to talk about himself with a few prompting questions from the interviewer. In the end, the interviewer rewrites the responses but maintains the words, opinions, and ideas of the respondent.
(iii) The narrative feature
The narrative is simply storytelling. It is creative and non-fictive. The writer relates events that happen in society from the point of view of a witness or sympathizer.
(iv) The confession
The stories here are classified as ‘true life experiences.’ While some of the stories are edifying others are not. The writer withholds the names in some of the writings, while in others they are mentioned. The readers’ reactions are requested in some cases. The story ranges from love affairs, kinship problems, marital issues, and some others.
(V) The anthology
The anthology is mostly done in literary appreciation. A columnist might write a feature that generates responses from literary critics. These responses are known as anthology. They can be compiled and published if they are scholarly or meet the required conditions for publication.
The editorial is an important type of media writing. It is written by the editor, and it represents the view of the publisher. The editorial is the voice of the paper. It is usually brief, concise, and presents facts. Also, the editorial captures the theme and the subject matter.
(4) Letters to the editor
These are letters one writes to the editor with the intention that he will publish it. Such letters are usually published because reactions and responses are expected from those concerned about the issues discussed. It covers subject matters like education, religion, politics, sports, economic activities, and some others. The language of such letters is simple to enable the public, which is the target audience, to understand it. The writings are concise.
The writers in this sphere usually adhere to the house style of the newspaper or magazine they intend to publish their write-up with. They also follow the basic format of a formal letter.