The editorial function of any publication – whether website, newsletter, newspaper or magazine – has three main elements:
Which can be divided into “reporting”- or writing of news items – feature and comment writing. Understanding the different techniques can be helpful and important.
The checking, editing and improvement of what has been written
- Layout and design
The typefaces to be used; and how the material to be used on a page (words and pictures) is to be displayed.
This page focusses on the first of these: writing
Here we make a distinction between three main types of writing for a publication – reporting, feature and comment writing – but many of the key things to remember are equally important to all three.
Writing as a reporter
The reporter’s job is to find and write stories which will interest and be understood by readers. But this simple description is to understate a job which can be difficult, exhausting, sometimes exciting – and always carries a great deal of responsibility.
Features are designed to be read at more leisure than a news story, hence many magazines consist entirely of features while newspapers focus more on news.
In the online world the distinction may be less marked but the same need is there to capture the reader’s attention and lead them to what is on offer.
There is always a place for a good comment – ‘op/ed’ or ‘leader’ – in a publication, with perhaps some emphasis on ‘good’. And good definitely includes being accurate. There is little worse than having to apologise for an opinion based on an error of fact.
The key point here is brevity: assembling facts and comments into a carefully crafted piece of journalism.