Wick Communications

Rethinking ‘Newsthinking’

In Writing on July 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned a book by the name of “Newsthinking: The Secret of Great Newswriting.” But taking down Bob Baker’s book from my dusty shelves has been a revelation.

The book has been in print since the Paleolithic era. I was in college when I bought it for a newswriting class. It’s funny that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The stuff in this book is relevant today even though it was written before Facebook, digital cameras and the Internet.

I wanted to mention something Baker says about writing and how it differs from “newswriting.” Actually, I wanted to just quote from the book. To wit:

Newspaper writing is not “Writing.” No more than shooting a basketball in your front-yard is like playing in a basketball game with nine others. Or strumming a guitar is like playing in a band in front of three thousand people. “Writer” connotes the sun, reflecting on the forces around it. The reality of “newswriter” is the asteroid, being tugged at violently from every angle – bitchy sources, bitchy competitors, bitchy editors, bitchy readers, deadlines, space limitations and the emotional fragility those pressures create.

You may love it, but that’s not enough. You have to consciously define your skills by these pressures. …

That is so true, isn’t it? If writing is an art, newswriting is a craft. Writers may paint pictures with their words; we put together puzzles under duress. The result of each endeavor may or may not be pretty.

If you want an interesting book about the work we do, written by a guy who knows what he’s talking about, check out Baker’s website.

Clay

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