Friday, October 22, 2010

Writing out loud ... and 'What was NPR thinking?'

Last week's local SPJ newsletter (Society of Professional Journalists Cleveland Chapter) linked to an interview by Diane Helbig with John Ettorre. Among the excellent points the two writers shared was the recommendation to read your writing aloud in order to improve clarity and readability.

It's a practice I've followed myself, but Ettorre adds this interesting twist: You can also express what you're trying to say before you begin writing. It's what he often tells people he's coaching to help them get started. He suggests recording one's thoughts and then transcribing them. The result is a rough draft on which to build -- instead of the intimidating blank page.

I can see another benefit in this technique. It automatically produces the succinct phrases and simple statements essential to any kind of writing, especially writing for the ear.

Helbig's discussion with Ettorre can be found on the Blog Talk Radio website. SPJ Cleveland's Writer's Week can be found on that organization's website.


Thinking out loud doesn't always work out, as Juan Williams demonstrated when he told Fox's Bill O'Reilly how nervous he gets when he sees Muslims boarding his flight. Williams may be out as senior news analyst at National Public Radio, but his new contract at Fox more than makes up for it. Anyway, NPR is surely the big loser. Juan Williams was as valuable to NPR in countering its perceived left-wing bias as he is to Fox in countering its right-wing label.

Score: Fox 1, NPR 0

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