Title: The Media Writer
Author: Godspower Udoh
Place of Publication: Uyo
Publisher: Peace Letters Limited
Year of Publication: 2015
Number of Pages: x + 102 = 112
Price: Not stated
Reviewer: Chidi Arua
The Media Writer is written primarily for mass communication and journalism students, to help such students improve in the art of writing for the media. According to the author, the book “particularly welcomes students of journalism and mass communication to some of the major issues in mass media.” (pg vii). However, the book can also be useful, according to the author, to other “undergraduates who do not only look forward to scoring high grades in introductory media writing courses, but are also aiming at getting acquainted with the basic textual tectonics of the popular media writing tripod namely: journalism, advertising and public relations”. His aim in writing the book, he says, is to help budding writers avoid colossal mistakes in the art of writing for the media, to offer explanations to the guidelines on how such task should be handled, and where there is no standard guideline, to suggest a guideline by which it could be done properly. In a nutshell, the book is set out to assist upcoming media writers in following the standard rules of media writing. Expectedly, the contents of the book are tailored to achieve the set goals.
The content of the book covers a wide range of writing tips; the explanation and distinction between ordinary writing and media writing, information about the traditional frontiers of media writing (print media, broadcast, internet media), tips on writing for the newspaper, magazine, radio and TV, advertisement writing, public relations writing, web writing and generally takes on the writing language of the media. These are all organized in different but related chapters to help the reader navigate with ease.
ORGANISATION OF CONTENT
The book has seven chapters. Chapter 1 deals with skills of communication and artistic writing, 2 talks about the print media, 3 unravels the complexity of broadcast media writing, 4 gives a blue print on the art of advertisement writing, 5 takes the reader on the journey of public relations writing, 6 dismantles the cob webs surrounding web writing, and 7 talks about effective ways of writing in the media language.
Chapter 1 basically talks about the art of communication and the basic skills accompanying it such as speaking, listening, writing and reading. The author brings writing into focus and creates a clear distinction between ordinary writing and media writing. He stresses the need as to why every writer should write as a professional communicator. The chapter brings the artistic media writer into focus; how he/she should write in order to capture the attention of his readers. The author states that while no particular artistic skill is needed to write, it’s almost impossible to write for the media without the element of creativity. Finally, the chapter lists the traditional frontiers of media writing; print (newspaper and magazine), broadcast (radio and television) and internet media.
Chapter 2, titled Writing for The Print Media, is largely prescriptive. It takes the reader through the traditional frontier of the popular print media –newspaper and magazine, their contents, writing techniques, structures and styles. These features, as explained by the author are newspaper’s predominant form, news types and structures, writing the inverted pyramid news, news types and determinants, a magazine’s predominant form, traditional feature typology and option for media writers, the investigative method and writing techniques, the interpretative writer, qualities of print media, leads for journalistic writing, writing powerful leads and journalistic writing.
Chapter 3 deals with the title, Writing for the Broadcast Media. It highlights some challenges in writing for the broadcast media, focusing mostly on the textual issues to be considered when writing broadcast stories. The issues are treated in categorically as writing broadcast stories that contain numbers and writing broadcast abbreviation and acronyms. As an addition to the main purpose of the chapter, writing as a communication artist is also addressed.
In chapter 4, Writing for Advertisers, the author introduces the reader to the concept and principle of advertisement copy writing. Principles such as audience survey, determining value proposition, finding a unique selling proposition, having a definite objective, using compelling subject, harping on great headlines, avoiding unappealing words, using active and strong voice, including a customer quote and keeping the copy clean and concise are all addressed. This chapter also explains the language of advertisement.
Chapter 5, titled Writing for Public Relations, talks about the essentials of public relations writing. It states the two basic angles of public relations writing; internal and external public relations writing, and the issues in each of them. For internal, issues like writing for the employee newsletter, writing for corporate magazine, writing for company brochures and booklets, and periodic report writing are explained. While in external public relations writing, issues explained include writing news release and feature story writing.
Chapter 6 talks about Writing for the Web. Some principles of web writing are highlighted. The issue of web writers and the behaviour of their readers are examined. Again, the author gives his own take on online writing and search engine optimization (SEO).
Chapter 7, the last chapter of the book, talks about Writing in Media Language. This chapter addresses the grammatical and technical issues that may be relevant to media writing.
The book provides good information and advice in the area of general writing, print and broadcast media writing, advertisement copy writing, web and public relations writing and the language in media writing.
Technically, the work is fine; good fonts, printed with good margins. His English is simple and therefore provides good readability. There are no spelling errors to my knowledge. Personally, I admire his punctuations. It has a good front-cover design to suit its title.
However, in chapter one, when the author made an attempt to address general writing, he did so without talking about other areas of writing such as fictional writing and essays that are not intended to convey news but pleasure. This may deny a budding writer who is intending to write fictions for magazines the opportunity of knowing the basics. The lengths of the chapters are not appropriately proportionate. Chapter 1 has 14 pages, chapter 2 has 34 pages, chapter 4 has 6 pages and chapter 7 has 15 pages. This obvious lack of conformity results from the fact that some chapters are more involving than others. It could have been avoided by a reduction approach to involving chapters.
In spite of the few weaknesses observed from the book, the book is an important contribution to the teaching of media writing. Its emphasis on creativity, aesthetics and simplicity in media writing recommends it to all budding and aspiring media writers.
I strongly recommend the text to the reading public and undergraduates in Nigeria and Africa. The book promises to be a helpful companion.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to assist the first year students of the University of Uyo with their book review exercise, and it contains my personal review of the book. It should not be reproduced on any online form, or reproduced in hard copy for monetary purpose. This information is free but not free to be plagiarized by any blogger.