Every organisation has its presentation style.
News media may differ from your organisational style – ask yourself, do you want media attention or do you want to be deleted?
It is in all citizen journalists’ interests – and would-be media spokespeople’s – to pay attention to standard news styles.
The reasons for this are twofold:
1. your audience – consistency ensures readers are free to read your stories and reports without having to concentrate on your presentation (there’s nothing more annoying when you’re reading than stumbling over confusing punctuation or grammar – it interrupts the flow and raises questions about the accuracy of your content);
2. your reputation – consistency ensures your reputation for accuracy is maintained (if you can’t be trusted to get the spelling right, how can you be trusted with the information?).
It may sound pedantic and for most readers these considerations are unconscious – but that is precisely because professional presentation ensures your readers don’t have to think about such concerns.
* for Australian news media use Australian spelling
* every sentence in a news story or media release is a new paragraph
* in a feature article or opinion piece, you can run two or three sentences in a paragraph (no more than 2-3)
* when attributing a comment in news stories, there is only ‘said’ – she said, he said. Do not use such attributions as ‘s/he claimed, asserted, demanded, maintained, laughed, revealed’ etc etc. She said. He said. Strictly.
* organisations do not speak – spokespeople for organisations speak
* all stories are written in past tense. There are exceptions to this, but before you get to use them you must learn to write in past tense. Occasionally, it’s okay to use present tense in the lead (the first paragraph), but the rest of the story/media release will be past tense.
* quote marks have a specific style, as follows:
– when you are quoting someone inside a straight sentence, use single quotes.
Example: The teacher said she was ‘disappointed’ with the state government’s refusal to sign up to education funding reforms.
– when you are using full quotes, use double quotation marks.
Example: “I am very disappointed with the state government’s refusal to sign up to education funding reforms,” she said.
NOTE the punctuation towards the end of the sentence, before the close quote: the comma goes before the quotation marks.
There’s more – of course.
Welcome to journalism!