I’ve had a great time this month with a bright bunch of A/S students at Stanground Academy in Peterborough, talking about style and the structure of articles.
I pointed out to them that I had left my English lessons behind, in the classroom, 25 years ago, and had to learn a whole new way of writing for newspapers and magazines. I was trained as a reporter on a city newspaper and told to write ‘as if for a Sun reader’.
This was the rule of thumb for me on my local newspaper but I explained to my students that you have to adapt your style and vocabulary to the newspaper or magazine you are writing for, depending on the readership.
This was a specially written workshop and I surprised myself with all the long words I used! I wanted to tell them that you mustn’t ‘waffle’ on when you were writing a concise news article. I found the proper word for it – verbosity!
I then waxed lyrical about vocabulary, clichés, repetition, jargon, conjunctions and epithets!! Wow! I love English and really enjoyed being quite technical.
I also gave the students an exercise in editing and shortening an article. They really enjoyed themselves and the teachers said to me afterwards that what I had talked about had verified some of the things the students had been learning. It was good for all concerned to see that something they learn about in class is happening for real in the world of newspapers and magazines.
I had a lovely review from one of the 6th formers, Dariusz Pytiak. He emailed:
“On the Tuesday afternoon Sally came into our Academy and provided students who are interested in Journalism with a two hour workshop. Straight from the beginning we were introduced to the lexical field of journalism which I found very useful and helpful, as I’m an English Language AS student. Some of the words I’ve never seen in my life so I definitely benefited from that workshop. The terminology used in journalism will definitely help me with my future coursework. I really enjoyed learning about various techniques used in journalism, especially the style of writing and the whole idea of how to properly construct a good article. Moreover, what I found extremely effective was how Sally ran her presentation – she interacted with the class, which made the whole event much more interesting and enjoyable. Furthermore, I was really interested in the process of becoming a journalist and the requirements of it – Sally explained everything to us in detail, which left me with no doubts. I enjoyed the exercise we were given – we needed to edit one of the articles and make it shorter which was pretty enjoyable, as I could see what being a sub-editor is like.”