Five Things Every Reporter Needs to Remember About Readers

Sticking to my “five things” theme, what interested me the most in chapter two of our reading was the section concerning what every reporter need remember when writing.

First and foremost, readers are always in a hurry. This is something that will never change. I, myself, know that I skip over reading material that looks too lengthy. I want the main points so I can move on to something else. So, when you are writing for the general public, space out your paragraphs. Use bullet points. You could even use pictures! People love pictures. It is one reason that the television started taking the radio’s previous audience.

Second, readers have short attention spans. It would not surprise me in the least if people have already clicked to another web page before getting to this paragraph. Reading things online is even more difficult than reading print. Why would I sit here and read a blog post when I could check my email, watch a video, and tweet my life simultaneously?

Next, readers want stories they can personally connect with. No one wants to read a story directed towards a small audience. Whatever you are writing must focus on the reader. It makes you feel special. You do not want a story focused on the other guys. This is about you.

Furthermore, if you thought the above steps were easy enough, here is the one that gets a lot of writers. Stories must be written in a compelling way. The idea of a “hook” has been drilled into my head for as long as I have been writing papers. Professional reporting is no different. People will not stop to read a story that does not convince them from the first line that it is worth reading.

Last, there is always more than one type of reader. You cannot please everyone. If you try, your writing will only suffer for it. Do what is ethical, compelling, and fresh. Keep an open mind. Write without fear of criticism, but constantly keep in mind that you are writing for an audience.

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