Re: inter-writer relations (was Re: Career changer vs. entry level)

Subject: Re: inter-writer relations (was Re: Career changer vs. entry level)
From: Beth Agnew <bagnew -at- INSYSTEMS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 14:30:18 -0500

There was an anonymous post:
>Someone wrote:
> >>I found it very difficult to get into the tech writing biz even though
> >>I was working as a computer journalist and had many years of writing
> >>and editing experience under my belt.
I find this very unusual. I would say it is NOT the norm. Especially for
someone who has covered the computer industry, switching to technical
writing should not have been that difficult. Perhaps it was the area of the
country, or the specific requirements for background where this person was

True, journalism has its "formula" for writing which is quite different
from writing manuals but the core competencies are such that very little
adaptation should be required to go from writing about high tech to writing
for high tech. Journalists get fewer opportunities to do layout (except at
small periodicals) and DTP, the tools are often different, interview styles
are on opposite ends of the continuum (How do you feel about that product?)
but writing is writing. News stories follow rules of logic and precedence
just as much as manuals do.

> >We don't expect that writing a software manual qualifies us to be
> >reporters. So what is that it we're doing or not doing, as a
> >to cause journalists not to give us the same courtesy and respect?
> >
> >
> >
> >.. so why does the reverse not hold true?
> >

Maybe it's tunnel vision on the part of both writers and employers. They
can't see how the two genres within the discipline are the same, only where
they're different. I'd take a manual writer over someone with no writing
experience if I had news stories to cover. You can give them the basics in
a short period of time, send them on assignment, and then put a good editor
to work with them.
Over time, they'll become competent or they'll move on.

Having done both technical writing and journalism, I can't see the


Beth Agnew
Senior Technical Writer, InSystems Technologies Inc.
65 Allstate Parkway, Suite 100 Tel: (905) 513-1400 ext. 280
Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 9X1 Fax: (905) 513-1419
mailto:bagnew -at- insystems -dot- com Visit us at:


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