Looking back on my time in New Orleans is a bit difficult because the sheer volume of things I experienced is so great. On the one hand, the National College Media Convention was a dense barrage of new information about writing, reporting, photography, editing, social media – the list goes on. But every time I had the chance to rest my mind, I would walk out into New Orleans, which during Halloween season is a bombardment of bright lights, live music and outrageous costumes. The whole weekend fluctuated between mental overload and sensory overload. But in a good way.
One of the sessions that really stood out to me from the conference (mostly because I’m a huge nerd for writing in any form) was called “Writing Visually.” A photographer and a news writer led the session, outlining principles that are central to both written journalism and photojournalism. The basic idea is this hierarchy of traits in photography:
- Graphically appealing
Basically, the argument was that these characteristics are just as applicable to news writing. Most important, or course, is information – each story needs to answer the who, what, when, where, why and how questions. The next step is for writing to sound nice and flow well. This should also be achievable in all stories. Emotion is not always possible in journalism – sometimes our job is just to present information to the public. But when stories can connect to readers’ emotions, they tend to have more impact. Finally, the best stories are intimate, meaning they can present a person, place or event in a way that most people will never be able to see.
-Philip Ellefson, Opinions Editor of The Beacon