We encourage our freelance journalism course students to keep working at the basics.
In fact it’s not just online freelance journalism course students who need to do this. Qualified journalists need to keep refreshing their skills in order to keep the copy sharp in a competitive marketplace.
These are some of the essentials:
1. Keep sentences short. Sentences in news stories should be 27 words, maximum. Divide longer ones into two.
2. Include one or two SEO search words and phrases in the heading, intro and second par.
3. Present quotes properly – either in full, or as reported speech, but not a hybrid of the two. This means eliminate ‘quote grabs’. They’re unprofessional. What’s a ‘quote grab’? You just read one. It means inserting quote marks around random words and phrases. For example:
Key areas of agreement included “proper consideration of and provision for equality in the contract”.
4. Get rid of jargon. The journalist’s job is to be an interpreter, not a parrot. This also means translating technical quotes into read-friendly English. Quoting other people’s jargon is lazy.
5. Keep sentence constructions simple. For instance, consider this sentence:
A referendum of BMA members on the junior doctors will be held from June 17 to July 1, with the result announced on July 6.
It reads more naturally like this:
A referendum of BMA members on the junior doctors will be held from June 17 to July 1. The result will be announced on July 6.
See our freelance journalism course