RE: Reporter style writing versus technical writing

Subject: RE: Reporter style writing versus technical writing
From: "Al Geist" <al -at- geistarts -dot- com>
To: "'Debbie Hemstreet'" <D_Hemstreet -at- rambam -dot- health -dot- gov -dot- il>, "'Techwr-l'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 08:09:35 -0400

Deborah Hemstreet wrote:
>I am looking at a style of writing in a "press release" that is written
with "have been"
>"had done" and it is driving me mad. For example:

>"The families have recently spent time with"

>Instead of "The families recently spent time with..."

>Is there a right or wrong here?

>I personally think it makes everything verbose and heavy, also, throughout,
children are referred to as "kids"... I hate calling children kids like
?they are a bunch of goats to be herded...

>What do you think?"

As a graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Journalism program, I
second what Peter says "Press Releases are written by amateurs who are
attempting to mimic the style of newswriting." One of my passions is
photography and I am a member of a local art gallery whose membership
consists of a lot of retired teachers. Prior to my arrival, their news
releases were grammatically correct, but boring, and boring is one of the
worst things you can do in a news release.

News releases need to carry information, but in such a manner that the
reader wants to read that next sentence....and the next...and the next. For
most journalists, writing an accurate story is only part of the
job...getting that story on the front page or the paper, or section, is the
goal. The less work the editor has to do to make the story readable (and fit
the allotted space), the better your chance of getting a spot on one of
those coveted pages. With a news release, the less work the editor has to
do, the better chance the author has of getting published in one of those
open spots Peter mentioned. "Cut the deadwood," was the mantra of my
Journalism 101 professor. In most cases, you can whack up to 50% of the
verbage from an amateur's news release. The result is the information is no
longer hidden with superfluous drivel.

As for the kids/chidren comparison.....I was raised on an organic farm in
Michigan where goats supplied both milk and comic relief. They are indeed
just like kids, full of boundless energy and very demanding. If the
publication you are sending the news release to is very information, the
kids reference would work; however, it goes back to the amateur comparison.
An amateur would fill his/her news release with jargon, slang, and similar
terminology. A professional would not. It's all how you want to present the

Al Geist-Geist Arts, LLC
Fine Art Photography - Exceptional Note Cards
Mobile: 231-301-5770
E-mail: al -at- geistarts -dot- com
Facebook: Geist Arts
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