ADVERTISEMENT

Posts by Roy Peter Clark

About Roy Peter Clark

Senior Scholar

Roy Peter Clark has taught writing at Poynter to students of all ages since 1979. He has served the Institute as its first full-time faculty member, dean, vice-president, and senior scholar. He contributes regularly to Poynter.org on topics such as writing, reporting, editing, coaching writers, reading, language and politics, American culture, ethics, and the standards and practices of journalism. He is the author or editor of eighteen books. His most recent include Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, Help! For Writers, How to Write Short, and The Art of X-ray Reading.
NEWS

Confessions of an alienated journalist, revisited

In his song “My Back Pages,” Bob Dylan, who just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, told the world that “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” All writers have back pages. For me that phrase signifies things that I wrote months or years ago when I was the same person — but different, maybe … Read More
NEWS

To write a great election story — or World Series story — rehearse your lead

Sometime this evening, election night, or early tomorrow morning, hundreds if not thousands of journalists will be working on their leads. If they are smart, and most of them are, that process has already begun. With the end of the race in doubt, writers will be immersed in a process we call “rehearsal.” Among other benefits, rehearsal offers an antidote … Read More
NEWS

What I learned about writing from listening to Bob Dylan

This Saturday night at a St. Pete bar and grill called Harvey’s, I’m playing a three-set gig with my long-time musical friend Dave Scheiber. I have not played in a while, and I have some new gear — a Hammond portable organ, so I went to his house for a brief rehearsal. Before long we were swapping the vocals in … Read More
NEWS

As American editors sharpen their pencils, some advice on writing short

If two examples constitute a trend, then a movement is afoot among editors to encourage short writing. It began at The Washington Post, where an editor argued that many stories could be tighter. Before you could say “Strunk and White,” an editor at The Wall Street Journal made the same case. What came next was predictable, and, from … Read More
NEWS

Between Trump and Hitler, New York Times book review doubles as political criticism

A tweet from Politico's Timothy Noah Wednesday called attention to a review by Michiko Kakutani of a new biography of Adolf Hitler. The headline for the review on the New York Times website reads: "In ‘Hitler,’ an ascent from ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue." I smiled at the clever parallel of those D-words. But I remained puzzled by Noah’s hint … Read More
NEWS

The Daily Beast set to publish new work from famed columnist Jimmy Breslin

The Daily Beast will publish Saturday the first major piece of writing by famed New York City columnist Jimmy Breslin in more than a decade. That news comes from John Avlon, the Beast’s editor in chief, who once included five Breslin columns in his anthology of great newspaper columns titled “Deadline Artists.” The Daily Beast has been running The Best … Read More
NEWS

A salute to Charles Osgood, the bard of broadcast news

At the age of 83, news veteran Charles Osgood will be leaving CBS "Sunday Morning," after 22 years as anchor. He is known for two trademarks: a dapper bowtie and a penchant for turning news copy into verse. His first collection of news poems was titled "Nothing Could Be Finer Than a Crisis That Is Minor in … Read More
NEWS

7 ways to write a "kick-ass" column, via Sally Jenkins

This morning on Twitter I awarded The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins a gold medal for a "kick-ass column" she wrote about Olympic urinator Ryan Lochte. Check out her lead: "Ryan Lochte is the dumbest bell that ever rang." As I read and then re-read her column, I realized that I had placed it in an important and … Read More
NEWS

This election year, journalists must be watchdogs — and word dogs

Does anyone else feel as if the coverage of this presidential election is less about events, issues, ads and poll numbers than it is about language? Hillary Clinton and countless others have reminded Donald Trump that "Words matter." (By the way, Hillary, they should matter to you, too.) Like all short sentences, "Words matter" has that ring of gospel … Read More
NEWS

6 scribes from The New York Times who 'write good'

Donald Trump had this to say as part of his critique of The New York Times: "They don’t write good. They have people over there…they don’t write good. They don’t know how to write good." As a reader of the Times for more than a half-century, I would say that there are days on which Mr. Trump’s review would … Read More
NEWS

Fareed Zakaria, Donald Trump and the art of calling bullsh*t

I just heard CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, in a conversation with Wolf Blitzer, refer to Donald Trump as a “bullshit artist.” This surprise usage heats up the language wars that have become so prominent in the coverage of this presidential campaign. What’s next, a canny analysis of how one of the candidates “f-ed up” in this debate? This is not … Read More
NEWS

8 writing lessons from Michelle Obama's DNC speech

Great oratory magnifies the lessons of great writing. Written for the ear, memorable speeches tend to use certain rhetorical devices — such as parallelism or emphatic word order — in greater measure than less dramatic forms of communication. The language strategies rise to the surface, so you may not even need a pair of X-ray reading glasses to see them. Read More
NEWS

Journalists, America's not on the verge of disaster. Let's stop pretending it is

As a critical reader, it is important to analyze every word in a slogan, such as Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.” This essay riffs off that last word: Again. That adverb suggests there was a time — somewhere in the past — when America was really great. So was America great in the 1820s, when slaves were property and … Read More
ADVERTISEMENT