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NPR tornado report reveals the elements of vivid newswriting

Driving to work Tuesday, I heard a four-minute NPR report on the massive tornado destruction in Oklahoma. So vivid was the account -- and so visual the writing -- that I pulled over to write down the name of the reporter. It was Wade Goodwyn, a Texas reporter who narrates the news with a husky maturity that manages to be … Read More
NEWS

Writing and reporting advice from 4 of The Washington Post's best

Last Saturday I had the honor of teaching at a public writing conference at The Washington Post.  After I finished my part of the program, I spent the day listening carefully to four of the Post's most accomplished writers and reporters:  David Finkel, Bob Woodward, DeNeen L. Brown, and Ezra Klein. I took copious notes, wrote down anything that struck … Read More
NEWS

AP dumps 'illegal immigrant' but not neutrality

All big political wars are fought more often with words than with weapons. Your “terrorist,” so the saying goes, is my “freedom fighter.” Your “illegal alien” may be my “undocumented worker.” Immigration activists demonstrated in Miami in January. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) But what if you do not see yourself as a combatant in a culture war? What if your job is to report on that war in a responsible way?  What if you see language as a gateway rather than a battering ram?  All those questions, and many more, come to the surface with the AP's decision to dump "illegal immigrant" as a supposedly neutral news label. But let's begin with the language wars. Read More
NEWS

Why we should stop criminalizing practices that are confused with plagiarism

Editor's note: This essay represents the personal and professional opinions of Roy Peter Clark and should not be used to characterize the opinions of Poynter or the standards and practices of Poynter.org. It is time to decriminalize certain practices now described under the rubric of plagiarism. There has been too much loose talk about plagiarism since I first … Read More
NEWS

Why the late Richard Ben Cramer was such a good writer

I began work at the Poynter Institute in 1979. My first assignment was to edit a collection of prizewinning newspaper stories. ASNE had just introduced their distinguished writing awards, honoring four ink-stained wretches. My job was to select the best of their best work, comment upon it, and then interview each writer. The first writer I interviewed for the book … Read More
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