Style and Editing

Written by Sally Hunt.

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:

IMG 2268“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.”

School's back

Written by Sally.

Well, the summer is well and truly over and schools are back, lessons are being planned and lovely new school shoes are getting scuffed!

It was an exciting summer for me as I got married, so my name has once again changed. My students just call me Sally now as I have two different surnames on my articles! With hindsight I should have just kept my maiden name for my ‘writing name’ like many doctors and professional people do.

This week the magazine I edit is going to press and I’m being kept busy as I’m writing several features as well. I’m keeping a day free to spend planning for Friday’s workshop at Stanground Academy in Peterborough. It’s a totally bespoke workshop as the school is brand new and I’m working with a group of students, including some year sixes from nearby primary schools, to write a newsletter about the new school. This will involve lots of learning how to do interviews and write up stories in the morning, before setting off in the afternoon to do the real thing.

Key Stage 2 Listening goals expect pupils to listen, understand and respond appropriately to others and learn to identify the gist of an account or key points in a discussion as well as evaluating what they hear. They will do this by asking relevant questions to clarify, extend and follow up ideas.

Under Planning and Drafting pupils need to learn to plan - note and develop initial ideas, draft - develop ideas from the plan into structured written text and revise - change and improve the draft. They then need to proofread - check the draft for spelling and punctuation errors, omissions and repetitions and present their written work (either on screen or paper) in a neat, correct and clear final copy.

All of the work they will be doing with me will be meeting these National Curriculum requirements while the students have some fun and learn about the reality of life as a journalist.

More than an English lesson!

Written by Sally.

A school workshop that’s more than an English lesson!

A workshop with me can capture the attention of schoolchildren more than any normal English lesson.

WJournalism for Schools - Junior Journalist Trophyhy?

Because it may be the first time they’ve seen how to use the English language they’ve learnt in a real-life situation.

It’s not all about grammar, verbs and spellings. It’s about accuracy, integrity and proper communication.

When reporting on a story it’s vital that the journalist understands what they are writing about, so research is also important.

During my workshop students learn about the mistakes that can be made when reporting and how to avoid them. I’m hot on accuracy and my mantra is CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!

Pupils find themselves slightly starstruck because I’m ‘in the paper!’

They love the fact that I’ve met popstars and Royals and as the session progresses they start to fire more and more questions at me. They want to hear details about the more dramatic stories I’ve done – murder, suicide, and how to report on the sensitive subject of death.

And then there’s the excitement and satisfaction when they get their own news story down on paper.

One budding young journalist told me she had read through one of my stories and re-written it. She had changed the ‘angle’ of the story!

Wow! 10/10 for listening and using initiative!

It’s time like that I feel so proud of the students and thrilled to see how I’ve opened their minds.

How it all began ...

Written by Sally.

I have spent years doing workshops with children in my own three children’s classes as they have gone through school, mainly in primary schools plus the odd one at Brownies and Cubs.

Teachers were biting my hand off to get me in and thanking me profusely afterwards. The kids loved meeting a ‘real life journalist’ and some of them who professed to 'not like' writing surprised themselves by thoroughly enjoying the class.

Sally Hunt - Journalism For SchoolsOne day I realised that this could be taken further and give me a business of my own while doing something I’m passionate about – talking to young people about journalism. My first workshop at the Deepings School in Lincolnshire left me buzzing. One year 8 student came up to me afterwards: “Please, please come back again,” she said: “We want to go into town and find a story and come back and write it up!”

The school, a mixed comprehensive which has recently become an Enterprise Academy, welcomed the learning experience, and indeed a TA who sat at the back of the lesson during the two hours I was with the students said she had never seen the children so enthralled and engaged.

I am continuing to write freelance articles for several publications. This keeps my workshops fresh and up-to-date as I can show students something I have recently worked on which is current and interesting.

Give me a call or drop me an email – and find out what I can do for your students and your school.

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