You have another two weeks to take part in the competition to produce the best piece of journalism. Two weeks? So the deadline is looming and you are getting nervous ... Because you really do want to participate, but where do you start? To help get the ball rolling, Resource asked three experienced journalists for tips & tricks. How do I write an article?
Choose a juicy subject. The more surprising, the better. But limit the scope of the subject you choose. It is impossible to deal with the world food problem or human rights in a few hundred words.
Head straight for your goal. Keep the side issues for another time. Write graphically; use of mix of short and long sentences; vary the sentence construction, don't keep starting with the subject of the verb; avoid the words ‘you' and ‘one'.
Whatever you do, don't try to be funny. That is a hazardous genre, suitable only for really good writers.
Stijn van Gils, student editor and ex-columnist for Resource
I'm not bothered whether you write about government cuts or your new underpants. But make sure that the reader can identify with your article. Never write about the past; write about something that is happening now.
A column, of course. Resource is desperate for a new student columnist who can surprise the reader. Someone who can laugh at themselves and has a razor-sharp intellect.
Business or personal?
Resource is not Vogue. Only when there's absolutely no other option should you use a personal style. If you want to make a factual article a little more personal, let others do the talking.
Pitfall to avoid
Wanting to cover too much ground. Make it clear whether your article is personal or factual, what the topic is. And make it as short as possible. Dare to cut your own work radically.
Marianne Heselmans, freelance science journalist for NRC and others
First of all, choose a subject that you feel comfortable with and that you can talk about. Couscous dishes for example, or the disappearing nature in the Netherlands. Then look for the news angle.
Choose a clear format, and put the message (the news, the problem, your opinion) right at the start of the piece. Tip: analyse in newspapers and magazines how other people tackle a news item, a news article, an opinion piece, column or news report.
Business or personal?
Personal style is always better, but personal does not mean ‘free': choose a strict structure. Writers who know a lot about a subject are often more likely to use a personal style because they are able to write with authority.
Academics habitually use language that is too general and includes many abstract words like ‘cooperation', ‘solution' and ‘parties'. Another pitfall is getting bogged down in scientific details.
For the best piece of journalism a sum of no less than 250 euros lies ready and waiting. For the conditions, see www.resource.wur.nl.