#Caremudgeon #writing tip – a duo is singular not plural

I Wanna Be Creative!

These tips can help you avoid common writing mistakes like this:

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Sure, the mistake is minor and common – but so easy to fix.

Words like duo and pair are singular entities – so technically you should write:

(THE) duo (IT) eyeS US market.

While I understand and accept that modern news is too busy to worry about writing ‘correctly’ – it’s helpful to know the rules if you are working in a business where you don’t want errors in your website copy or printed marketing collateral.

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As a journalism tutor and guest lecturer (back where I was a journalism student),  I am impressed by the writing and producing talent of the next wave of future journalists. I also try to pass on advice that was given to me when I was a student and a young journalist.  Bosses and colleagues in media seemed to have the time and commitment…

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#Teasing news stories – show just enough to make the audience want more

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

I know this idea of teasing stories may sound ‘sleazy’ but it’s the sad reality of modern news trying to get readers to ‘click through’ to on-line ‘newspaper’ stories and to ‘stick through’ watching TV news bulletins.

Writing ‘teasers’ is a necessary part of journalism these days and when I train writers in newsrooms, I often need to teach them not to ‘reveal too much’ – reveal just enough to arouse interest or curiosity so the reader or viewer wants to click through or stick through.

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This ‘story’ I saw this morning was a good example in my professional opinion.

It reveals just enough – in the words and the photo.

The words and photos have to make you want to know what “this” is.

Taking photos for ‘teasers’ and editing TV teasers is a skill in itself – you have to hint at what ‘this’ is – but not…

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Avoid too many #teasers that sound the same or similar

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

This post was inspired by seeing two stories grouped too close together with headlines that seemed too similar.

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They two stories used the same teasing technique:
1. suggesting some surprise​ or something unexpected
2. the use of the word THIS – so the reader has to click through to see what THIS is.

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In my professional opinion, ‘teasing’ is a necessary part of modern news writing and the technique itself is not the problem.

The problem is seeing the same technique used in two stories so close to each other.

I understand that with continuing staff cuts across media, newsrooms have fewer people to check. However, it should be part of a newsroom’s standard procedure to check the blocks of story teasers that appear together on-line or in the ‘breakers’ in a TV newscast. (breakers – are the group of stories announced as ‘coming up’ or ‘don’t miss’ as a…

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How should you pronounce places of foreign battles like YPRES?

This post was inspired by hearing the way a commercial news network presenter pronounced the name of YPRES – the scene of many battles in WWI. The presenter called it EE-preS

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YPRES is pronounced ‘different’ ways depending on whether you want to use: 1. the correct ‘local’version or 2. the popular “Anglo” version or 3. the way Australian troops often referred to it.

Australia troops used to pronounce it like ‘wipers’ – Y-pers.

The Anglo version – often defiantly not taking on the French/Belgian pronunciation keeping the final S silent  – called it EE-pers

If you want to be correct in pronouncing YPRES and other words, I recommend the ABCs pronunciation guide – ABC PRONOUNCE. It says with authority – EEP-ruh. It’s good to have an authoritative reference.


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I find Australian audiences are usually fairly forgiving about pronouncing the names of ‘foreign’ places – except when it comes to battlegrounds.   People who still watch mainstream media are usually ‘mature’.  They often know the proper way to pronounce these places and expect news presenters to pronounce the names correctly too.

Just remember, in French the S at the end of the word is silent – in place names that are part of the ‘Australian WW I experience’ – places like Ypres and Fromelles and Pozieres.

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The ABC pronunciation guide is so valuable.

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Here’s a link to ABC pronounce:

ABC Pronounce

As you know, 2018 will be an important year leading up to the centenary of the end of WWI in 1918- so I recommend newsrooms pronounce the names of places correctly.







The no. 1 thing to avoid when teasing stories or grouping stories together -#News #writing

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

This post was inspired by seeing stories grouped together.

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You’ll note the repeated ‘No. 1 thing’ technique that often hooks readers into wanting to read the story.

Now that IS an effective heading or headline technique that can draw in readers. However, in my professional opinion, grouping stories with the same type of headline too close together draws attention to the ‘device’ and lessens its effectiveness.

You’ll also note (above)  the repetition of the ‘cheap’ angle – which, once again, is effective in itself but too obvious when you see the two stories being places alongside each other.

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The same principle applies when using ‘hooking’ techniques when writing ‘breakers’ or ‘teasers’ in commercial TV news. Effective techniques keep viewers across commercial breaks.

An old trick is to show dramatic vision then write ‘what happens next?’ or ‘you won’t believe what happens next.” The viewer is often compelled to stay tuned…

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News Writing: To write questions or not to write questions – that is the question

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

My old news bosses taught me to not write questions in news stories. “News is about answering questions – not asking them!”


Yesterday in my job as a university tutor in Broadcast Journalism I had to address the question of whether you can use questions in news writing.

…and what was my answer to this question?

Questions can be engaging and can draw in a reader or viewer and  questions are commonly used in writing headlines and news ‘teasers’ and ‘breakers’ (to keep TV viewers tuned in across commercial breaks)

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Technically, questions often  ‘trigger’ a compulsion to answer a question and then to check how your view compares to the views expressed in a story.

Questions can be very effective in compelling a scroller to click on a story – or to wait through an ad break to see how they view matches the views in a news story.

I warn students…

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Breaking the ‘Breaking News’ habit part 2 of 2 – what IS breaking news?

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

What is Breaking News to you? Some news event that is currently happening?

Some event that happened just recently – in the last 30 minutes? The last 60 minutes?  What is ‘recently’?


These days, news bulletins seem to use the Breaking News description very freely.

Now sometimes news really IS breaking – and the coverage is exciting. Other times the ‘news event’ has already happened hours ago – and yet many TV news bulletins seem to want to create a ‘dramatic urgency ‘ with a live cross to a reporter in some location with a dramatic ‘whooosh’ and a Breaking News banner or graphic.

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The news is not fake – but it is NOT Breaking News.

The feedback I get from many news consumers is that they are turned off by ‘fake breaking news’ – where it’s obvious certain news is not breaking.

I’ll give an example – not naming the…

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Breaking the ‘Breaking News” habit part 1 of 2

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

Not all news is ‘breaking news’ and many TV news services annoy viewers and lose viewers by claiming that news stories are breaking when they clearly are not.

TV news viewers often complain that some stories are clearly not breaking and should not have the ‘false urgency’ of the dramatic ‘swoosh’ sound effect and breaking news banner and dramatic wording“In breaking news…”

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The most obvious ‘false urgency’ or ‘fake breaking news’ stories involve court stories in an evening TV news bulletin where a reporter stands in front of a court sign and reports on events that happened earlier that day before the courts shut for the day.

Now there are exceptions – like when a jury comes back with a decision in the evening during or just before a news bulletin OR in a court decision that happens during a morning or afternoon bulletin.

One of my Broadcast…

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Be careful of clever puns in serious court stories

This post was inspired by a headline about a footballer (from an Australian rugby league team called the Cowboys) being charged with indecent assault.

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The headline to me sounded like an amusing reference to the old Glen Campbell song Rhinestone Cowboy (like a Loathsome Cowboy…) Other media colleagues suggested it was wordplay on Lonesome Cowboy – which is probably more likely than my association with Rhinestone Cowboy – but I still encourage caution in using words like ‘loathsome’ to create some pun or wordplay.

You especially need to be careful with puns and wordplay in more serious stories destined for the courts.

A news boss of mine in the US liked clever writing and wordplay however he urged caution in court stories – especially when the subject of a story has the financial means to sue.

And speaking of the US,  in the US there’s the famous Dallas Cowboys and yes, they too have inspired ‘loathsome’ puns too.  Actually, in the case, it’s the fan who is ‘loathsome’.

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O.K. back to the Australian headline and front-page splash about the ‘Loathsome Cowboy’.

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Here, the headline is accompanied by plenty of other copy that sets the context that the ‘loathsome’ behaviour is alleged (accused by police). The danger can occur when the clever words are used later in promoting the story and the context words are not included.

Maybe,  I am being too cautious. That’s the way I was trained by my news bosses about puns in ‘court stories’. With court stories I urge reporters and subs to play it straight – no matter how tempting it is to use words like ‘loathsome’ to create a clever pun or pop culture reference.

Is it Superceed or Supercede or Supersede? An easy way to get it right in writing your news supers

Bard of Breaking News (Breaking Bard)

Spelling mistakes in supers and graphics and ‘straps’ and ‘lower thirds’ (or ‘astons’ as they call them in the UK) can make news services look inaccurate and unreliable.

As far as I know, from 2016 experience in a commercial TV newsroom, you don’t have the benefit of spell check in the news computer programs you enter ‘supers’ into.

So, you have to know how to spell and to spot errors when subbing. You have to know how to spell ‘irregular’ words like superceed. Or is that supercede or supersede? Or indeed, superseed!

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When I train newsrooms and businesses in how to avoid embarrassing and credibility-eroding mistakes, I often create a list of common problem words for different industries and give easy-to-remember-and-apply ‘tricks’.


The ‘trick’ I use to remember that supersede is spelled with an S:

Something that supersedes comes AFTER the original.

S comes after C in the alphabet – so…

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