Journalists are naturally cautious when writing or subbing court stories – and they should be.

 

bbn-lawyers

 

This week I needed to trim lengthy copy for a court story – including this sentence:

 

It comes after allegations in court that…

First of all, the start of the story and the vision sets up that the allegations are in court – so you can cut those words – in court.

 

Also, you can have a simpler form of allegations:

e.g.

 

It’s alleged…

 

OR

 

 X allegedly…..

 

Both much shorter and punchier than: It comes after allegations in court that…

 

You don’t need the words: it comes after

 

So, while I encourage caution – I also encourage confidence in trimming excess words in court stories.

Does ‘allegedly’ protect you?

As boss in the US instructed all of us in the newsroom to use the word allege preceded by the official source that does the alleging.

 

Police allege or the prosecution alleges 

I was lucky to study journalism in the United States at the famed J-school at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

tb-umc

 

I still ‘study’ great journalism resources from the US including one of my favourite resources: The Poynter Institute.

It has witty advice for reporters using allege:

A lot of alleged journalists need to be talked off allege.

 

Here’s a link:

using allege – and other court reporting advice

 

 

 

 

 

 

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