Posts Tagged ‘Elements-of-Craft’

The first critic is you: Editing your own work

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Self-editing is a selfless endeavor. You cut, replace, rearrange and endlessly re-read — all for the reader’s benefit. “Journalism is all about having a sense of empathy with your audience,” says Dan Fagin, director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Toms River: A Story […]

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Dispatches from fact checking

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  I am a magazine fact checker. This is how I describe my job: “I verify and put a check mark above every single word in an article. If it is incorrect, I put a box around it and suggest a fix.” It sounds boring, but it rarely is. At its finest, fact-checking is a […]

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Weaving a seamless tale from threads of narrative and exposition

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Many moons ago now, more than I care to remember, I had come from India to study for my master’s in computer science at the University of Delaware in Newark. All foreign teaching assistants, and I was one, had to undergo training on the intricacies of teaching American students. And as part of that training […]

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Writing revealing stories based on unreliable sources

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  This conversation began with another one. And that one began with a reprinted chapter of Will Storr’s book on people who were unpersuadable — that is, whose beliefs didn’t match agreed-upon reality but were nonetheless fixed. In this chapter, excerpted in Matter as “The Itch Nobody Can Scratch,” the fixed beliefs people had were that […]

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Data Journalism: A Primer for Science Journalists

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Did you ever know someone who was devastatingly handsome, made great conversation and whom everybody talked about even after he left the room? That’s kind of how I think about good computer-assisted reporting (CAR), also often referred to as data journalism. These projects turn spreadsheets into insightful infographics, support stories with concrete context, get passed […]

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How to ace a 300-word story: An interview with Roy Peter Clark

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It happens again and again: The assignment calls for 300 words. I write the perfect story — in 800 words. Then I’m fighting to cut the damned thing down to size. My search for a better way led me to writing coach and Poynter Institute scholar Roy Peter Clark’s newest book, How to Write Short: […]

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Post-Slam Dunk

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The great thing about a Pitch Slam is that everyone benefits from courageous writers who conquer their nerves enough to pitch an idea, at a microphone, in front of a room full of their peers and a panel of editors from top publications. By any measure, the Pitch Slam at ScienceWriters2012 was crammed with outstanding pitches […]

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Like being there: How science writers use sensory detail

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“­At this time of year, with new growth laying a haze of green over the wet fields, the farm country around this small town smells faintly but distinctly of manure. It’s a rich, warm aroma, appropriate to the place that bills itself on road signs as “Canada’s foremost cattle county.” But follow the dip in […]

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Sharpening ideas: From topic to story

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George Johnson wanted to write about new developments in cancer research for the New York Times. But he needed to find a story that would let him to do it. So last year Johnson, a regular contributor to the Times’ science section who’s writing a book about cancer, cut a deal with his editor. He’d […]

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Making the leap from news to books: Critical questions

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Authors of science books often begin as writers of science news. As a science journalist who is looking to write a book, I’ve become very curious as to how other science journalists made the leap forward. I suspected that the questions that go into books might be different from those that drive newspaper and magazine […]

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Pitching errors: How not to pitch

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Writing a good pitch is really tough. Writing a bad one is easy. Editors see the same mistakes over and over again, even from good writers. A few weeks ago, seven editors from a variety of publications participated in a round-table discussion, in a series of group emails, about how NOT to pitch. I started […]

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Lost and found: How great nonfiction writers discover great ideas

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In June 2010, Michael Finkel needed a new idea. The Bozeman-based author of True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa and writer for GQ, National Geographic, and Men’s Journal wasn’t satisfied with the stack of print-outs in the two-inch deep brownie pan on his desk. And none of the hundreds of ideas in a Word document […]

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