This past February I started a job as an editorial assistant at a local newspaper. I’ve been writing since I was a teen, and got started publishing fiction almost ten years ago, but journalism is a whole new world of writing for me. I’ve learned a lot so far, some writing-related and some just plain interesting.
The AP Stylebook is the end-all be-all for journalists, even though it says not to use the Oxford comma, which drives me batty on a daily basis.
On the rare occasion AP doesn’t have the answer, Miriam-Webster gets the final say. Any questions either of these can’t handle go to David Buck, who knows everything about journalism but is still super nice.
InCopy has this amazing feature that can change capitalization with one click. It’s my favorite thing about it, especially since the program is kind of a pain in the ass in general. I have no idea why Word can’t change capitalization like this. Get on it, developers. Please?
Writing length is measured in inches, not pages or words. I still haven’t figured out the conversion and need to see it visually, but as usual, my articles are often too long!
Storytelling in journalism is a lot different than in fiction. There’s no room for a detailed backstory or well-developed plot. Journalism answers questions and informs more than tells stories most of the time.
Journalists don’t accept change easily. There were audible gasps when AP announced the percent sign could now be used instead of writing it out.
Last but not least, I’ve learned that one of my coworkers carries a cross in her pocket, not because she’s religious, but because you never know when you might run into a vampire.
I still have a ton to learn about journalism, but I’m enjoying the process and the people.