Monday, December 15, 2008

Coming around...

Some years ago, I studied history at University; it was, in fact a minor in my degree. For one semester, I did the Industrial Revolution and found it fascinating. There was plenty of information on how the Revolution changed the world - politically, socially, technologically... For my final essay though, I decided to write on how it affected the ordinary person and their way of life. It was a time, remember, when people walked off the land and into factories.

Unfortunately for me, my tutor downgraded the paper for 'being too specific' - he wanted something more general.

I've always thought myself as an 'old school' journalist; that is, I write just the facts without the colourful language of tabloid journalism Murdoch and owners of his ilk have introduced over the past few decades. To me, a journalist gives the facts, the reader makes their own conclusion and it is not the journalists responsibility to give them either a slanted story or an opinion.

I began writing press releases for a government department, and felt rather proud of myself for issuing information, not editorialising. Enter my boss who asked: "Do you have a personal objection to using adjectives?" So I had to add them in.

Cue today. I'm busily volunteering at the local maritime museum writing articles for the local paper. I did three today on well known ships of the area. And so I duly gave them to my boss. She had two things to say:

"Could you make them more specific?" and,

"I think you should put more colour into them, make them more story-like."

So it all collides, years later. I get to write specific stories about the local history of where I grew up. Can't ask for more than that.

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