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January, 2008

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Primarily Journalism
Entertaining 5 Ws and the journalistic lifestyle
By  Eliott Fields

Who, What, Where, When, and Why are the fundamentals but you need a hook.
ach and every month IN's Writer's Life Journalism section presents the finest in journalistic educational information using a variety of writers, with varied levels of experience. All of this is free of charge and online for your reading pleasure and enlightenment.

When requested to write a newspaper article a journalist will immediately revert to the 5 Ws. This always reminds me of the Canadian television news show W5, which leads me to procrastinate by thinking about all of the great special news broadcasts that this production company has put into the air waves. Talking about procrastination - I'm a master at it.

The 5 Ws: Who, What, Where, When, and Why are the fundamentals that need to be followed in order to present solid coverage of any topic. Answer those questions in the first paragraph if possible - preferably in the first sentence.

If a journalist can work in a hook for the reader, that's all the better. Catch the reader's attention and hold it all the way to the end of the article. This is accomplished by being funny or witty, making a surprise comment or a provocative statement from the very beginning, such as the confession that I'm a master procrastinator.

Examine the first two paragraphs of this article and you'll see I did just that. I covered:

Who: Inkwell Newswatch

What: Journalism education

Where: Online

When: Monthly

Why: For your reading pleasure and enlightenment

Hook: Distraction and the claim that I'm a procrastinator

The Meat of the Matter

The middle paragraphs, which I'm about to write, need to provide the meat of the article.

Journalism is one of the toughest professions in which to achieve success. Whether it's in television broadcast, print, radio, or the Internet, it's a hard slog to make it anywhere near the top. There are assignments, unless a journalist freelances and that's not recommended first day out; there is living out of a suitcase, encountering disease, and even death - around a journalist and sometimes directed at him.

To be involved in the trade, wear a brave heart to tough it out while experiencing a war zone or a hurricane, and maintain an objective view about it. Be street smart and have a solid, reliable gut instinct. Persevere and be dedicated. And on top of all of that, possess the ability to sniff out facts and develop relationships with trusted sources.

A journalist should always be objective - or so it's generally accepted - never stating their own opinions about the content of a report. However, successful journalism often can be accomplished by the journalist actually being involved in the news. One of the most infamous journalists of our time, and the supposed inventor of this "let's include my opinion in the news" concept, was Hunter S. Thompson. Under usual circumstances though it is best to use other people's opinions and quote them.

Take notes, write quotes, use active verbs and tell the interesting bits first. Journalists live by that credo.

Let's Wrap This Up

So that's the meat of the matter; and now to the closing paragraph. A news journalist can't leave the reader in suspense and - for blessing's sake - no experienced journalist in their right mind closes with words like "In conclusion..." or "To finish off this story..." because it's an absolutely boring start to a closing paragraph.

The best way to close out an article is with a catchy phrase or, like I did below, an informative quote that pertains to the topic at hand.

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism." - Hunter S. Thompson
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Eliott Fields is a University of Toronto English student learning the writing ropes and struggling with completing his first book, Trevor Milstone and the Underground Adventure. email:

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IN This Issue
Part III: What Your Publisher Won't Tell You
Part II: What Your Publisher Won't Tell You
Part I: What Your Publisher Won't Tell You
The Delusional Is No Longer Marginal
Part II: Researching Nonfiction
Part I: Researching Nonfiction
Rediscover Your Passion
Pet Prose
Successful Influence
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Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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