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Learning how to write

I have been in the writing or journalism business for nine years.

In 2001, I was hired as a proofreader for a Filipino newsweekly. I struggled to go up: I’ve been admitted to become their correspondent. My first paycheck’s worth Php.500 (US$11.54 in the current FOREX, but it’s lower,  I think that time). I was happy not only to see my byline but being paid to write a story.

Years have passed, I’ve been promoted to junior reporter, to senior reporter, then to section editor, until the print version of that newsweekly folds up in 2008. I did a short-time PR stint with a federation of government workers’ union, while continuously doing freelance writing with an international newsweekly, PINAS; the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Media Office; and Bulatlat.com.

***

As I have said before, my dear readers (naks!), I get used to stiff writing. Journalism requires serious tone; the more serious the tone is, the more authoritative the article is. Until I came to realize that in the information marketing business, stiff writing is a big NO, NO.

Since you’re selling something to people, you need to be “friendlier” to them. You need to interact with them, engage them into a dialogue, and convince them to buy your product. In the news, you can’t do that. You need to be “impersonal,” meaning you need to detach yourself in the subject that you are writing. You can serve as the storyteller, but never a part of the story.

But in information marketing, it is otherwise. You need to get involved with your readers and build a rapport. In order to that, you need to learn how to converse through writing.

***

I’ve asked my wife about my writing. And she casually said, “Masyado kasing formal. Masyadong seryoso.” And it’s true! Even my short stories, my essays, even my poems have this kind of tone. Maybe it’s my personality. Or am I just afraid of letting go my more “humane” side?

Yeah, I have to admit that going from serious to a complete joker gives me goosebumps. It brings me this kind of fear, that fear of losing the respect of my colleagues, my friends. However, change is inevitable. Even in the journalism world, the face of reportage is changing. They are more into this literary journalism—writing news in a way that is far different from the old ways.

Gee! I need to change or die. I need to cope, in order to survive. Charles Darwin, I am now listening! I need to be tough against my tough writing and to change it, relax it a little bit, in order to survive. Thank you so much about that…

It’s me,

N. S. B.

P. S. Thanks to Catherine, my very, very good friend for a nice chat today, in between breaks. I love you so much, Cathe! By the way, Happy International Women’s Day to you and the rest of the women who work to make this society better. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Random Thoughts

 

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good morning, Philippines!

It’s now 5:56 am in my PC’s clock and in my relatively huge red alarm clock. Now, I am getting myself ready for work. Yipee! I know that this would be a very exciting day! I will talk to some of my superiors to clear things out about my task, which according to the software we’re using is due for tomorrow.

***

Yesterday, I realize that efficiency is not only how fast you write and how flawless your grammar is. You need to abide in their standards. In journalism, things are the same, however quite different. Journalism is full of jargon, straightforward and very impersonal. I need to adjust the way of my writing to the current standards that is more relaxed, more personal and more light. When I say light, “high” language is out; Homer Simpson‘s way of saying and understanding things is in.

It is not that our readers are below average but they are more at ease with homey language. My boss said that the writing must be more colloquial, if not, just like how children’s book are written. Writing is not for the sake of expressing yourself; it is a way of communicating with other people. Notwithstanding their age, educational background, and social status — you must convey the message exactly how can they understand it. It’s quite academic to say that most of the attempts to better communicate fail because of the wrong signals contained in your words or gestures. As Marshall McLuhan says it: the medium (language) itself is the message.

The Wikipedia (2011) explains McLuhan’s idea as

McLuhan understood “medium” in a broad sense. He identified the light bulb as a clear demonstration of the concept of “the medium is the message”. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that “a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence.

Now, in writing the articles the language itself, or the way the article’s written convey either the clear or ambiguous message to the reader, thus enabling him to understand or misunderstand the essential or the core message that you want him (or her) to receive or the information that he or she must know.

It has been difficult, I admit to get away from the stiff writing that I used to, but it is a necessity to learn new methods of writing, and that is easy writing. Now, I need to read more references about this stuff and practice more until I assimilate (gee! did I use the word assimilate??? I am, again, getting academic!!!) the way that good and relaxed writers write.

Yup! That’s it! See you later folks! I must be at the office at exactly 8:30 am. Ciao!

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Reference:

The medium is the message (phrase). (2011, February 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:15, March 3, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_medium_is_the_message_(phrase)&oldid=414532449

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Critical Essay

 

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