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Here are some quick tips on how to improve your journalism skills. By no means does this represent the sum total of getting a degree in journalism, but it should help you with the standards needed for submissions:
- Set aside your feelings. Allow others to come to their own opinion/conclusions on the topic. Re-read if needed.
- We accept bias towards plural-positivity in the choices of what to cover, emphasize, or highlight — for example by highlighting where an article is stigmatizing towards plurals. This is a plural watchdog site, we are obviously not 100% neutral about everything simply by filtering news sources with an eye towards plurality.
- Your personal biases or opinions about topics within plural concerns (hearing voices, tulpamancy, endogenic vs. traumagenic, head-hopping, etc.) should not come into the article at all unless it’s with a slight positive bias towards all plural experiences and varieties.
Preparation and Research
- Read the article, watch/listen to attached video or audio content. Make notes if needed. What is relevant to our audience (plurals) within the context of the original work?
- Please don’t write anything requiring its own content warning. Don’t go into details of trauma, violence, sex, adult content, etc. that should be left in the original link. If the original is so full of warning-worthy content that there’s nothing left to review about (e.g. it’s a long anti-plurality rant attacking plurals), then the entire review article can be a content warning/advisory for the link or let our editors know that the link deserves to be put directly on the Dishonorable Mentions wall of shame for overly disturbing or graphic content.
- Note answers to the Wh-words: who, what, where, when, why, how (and how much); the facts in the article. When articles meander off-topic for this site (i.e. no longer about a plural person, a plural role, legislation affecting plurals, etc.) hone in on the plural relevance while making sure to mention the overall context and any relevant content warnings (see below). Who wrote the article, conducted the review, who was reviewed, where something took place, etc. may all still be relevant.
- In some cases there’s insufficient information in the main article to support how the content is relevant to plurals. A good example is the media coverage of the actress chosen for the Doom Patrol character of “Crazy Jane” — supplemental reading of a Wikipedia article (which was then attached as a reference point) helped explain whether the character being cast was truly relevant or was of positive or negative impact to plurals. If you need to do supplemental research, include the links or we risk plagiarism issues. Reference links can be in the main article (we pulled information directly from Wikipedia, so it was directly mentioned) or a footnote or endnote at the end of the article (if the information from supplemental research is sprinkled throughout the article).
Writing Your Article
- Read through this section, but try not to overthink it when you start to write. Writing and revising are separate acts in the brain, so get the first draft written, then revise it accordingly.
- Put the facts of the article in the first paragraph. What outlet is carrying the article i.e. Vanity Fair. Perhaps the author (especially if they’re the interviewer or are expressing their own opinion, prejudices, or bias in some way), who was interviewed, what event was attended, etc. Offload most of your facts into the first couple paragraphs, with the remaining facts organized by what is most relevant to the plural reader about the article. Some folks will never make it to the bottom of the review.
- Be brief. Highlight content of interest to plurals and make it digestible and easy. We don’t discuss the entire original content because they can always view, read, or listen for themselves. Give them the information they need to decide whether to click on a link.
- Outside content (including the main content being reviewed) may require a content warning. [Example: purposefully attacking, insulting, or stigmatizing plurals; adult themes or sex; trauma/abuse situations (i.e. rape); graphic violence; integration/merging therapy framed as the only solution….] Basically help the reader decide whether they want to read the original by having an idea whether there may be troubling content ahead. If there are no warnings then a simple paragraph stating something like “The article requires no content warnings.” will suffice. When there’s only one link, the content warning can be at the end of the review.
- Create a title for your article that highlights how it is important to plurals. Our editors may rewrite the title. Most articles are mentioning the outlet, the plural-centric theme of the article, and the month & year of the article.
- We are here to help with revisions, but you should always do a round or two of your own revisions before submission.
- Is the article top-heavy? Relevant to plurals? You can probably eliminate or summarize in passing any content that is not plural-relevant except for content warnings.
- Adjectives and adverbs may color the article with judgement. Some verbs have connotations as well (hounded vs. followed up) and you can choose a more neutral verb. Eliminate excess language that has emotional connotations of judgement or favoritism — often words can be removed, or use a thesaurus for a more neutral word.
- Reduce more excess words. For example “even though” which can be changed to the more neutral “while”. “Every day” can become “daily”. Eliminate repetition where possible. Excess words can sneak in emotional flavor and connotation and make an article intimidatingly large.
Sentence-Level Revision Example
“Even though she walked the dog every day, the dog obviously needed to be walked more often.”
- The word “obviously” is emotionally charged and is an adverb. Eliminate it.
- “Even though” also has a slight negative judgement to it. Change to “while” or eliminate it in this context — however if we eliminate While we need a different preposition (yet, but, however), so we may keep it here since it’s more neutral to say “while” than “but” or “however.”
- “Every day” becomes “daily.”
- “The dog” is mentioned twice. Change to pronoun “it.”
- Being walked is mentioned twice. Eliminate 2nd time.
New sentence: “While she walked the dog daily, it needed more.”