March 15, 2017

Powerful reviews do more than offer a list of observations about a movie, TV show or play. Reviews, like all forms of opinion writing, work best when they tell a story and connect with their audience. Eric Deggans, the TV critic for NPR, shares these strategies.

Be a griot. Just like the African poets and storytellers who told the history of a tribe, your work should tell a story. Each review should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Uphold journalistic standards. While your review will have opinions (and don’t be afraid to share yours), make sure you are accurate, factual and fair.

Identify your purpose. Why are you writing about this topic? You should be able to explain to yourself, and to your audience, why this is important.

Develop a theme. The concept or idea you establish is the thread that draws your audience through your work.

Offer context. Explain the background, historical perspective and other information that gives your audience insight into the larger story.

Use details. Build your case with specific examples, quotes, data and more.

Learn the language. Discover the common vocabulary of reviewers by reading others who write about what you want to write.

Taken from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Writers: Secrets of Their Craft, a self-directed course with Eric Deggans and other prize-winning journalists at Poynter NewsU.

Take the full course

Have you missed a Coffee Break Course? Here’s our complete lineup. Or follow along on Twitter at #coffeebreakcourse.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current…
Vicki Krueger

More News

Back to News