I thought that the movie “Shattered Glass” highlighting Stephen Glass’ rise and fall as a popular journalist was both very informative and very thought-provoking. The film follows successful twenty year old Stephen Glass, a wunderkind in the news world. Throughout the film you see a seemingly quirky, blameless young man transform into a complete stranger through his manipulations and lies. Ultimately it is discovered that more than half of Glass’ published articles were fabricated. I was surprised that Glass could seem so harmless and innocent on the outside while harboring such a dark secret that ultimately discredited most of the people who stood by him. While the storyline and dramatization of the film was stimulating, I was stunned by how much of the film sparked my interest into the day to day life of a journalist, fact checker, or editor. Watching how much effort and time goes into one authors piece, and how The New Republic would continually work as a family to make sure every piece is as good and relevant as the next was inspiring.
This film also confirmed how important ethics really is for the author and reader to establish an ongoing relationship, because all an author really has is their credibility and once you lose that, you lose everything. Stephen Glass was a perfect example of what to do and what not to do. If he put in the right amount of effort to find a story, he clearly had a talent for writing them. I also considered that Glass may have excelled with writing if he stuck with fiction stories rather than fabrication nonfiction and lying to millions of dedicated readers and fans.
In conclusion, “Shattered Glass” gave me a sneak peak or behind the scenes look of both the good and the bad in print media, and reinforced my desire to become a credible, honest author.
How to Avoid Libel and Slander
Libel is a form of defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or the act of publishing these written or printed words, which disparage someone. Slander is a malicious statement or report. Some people differentiate the two as libel being written defamation, while slander is verbal defamation, and both are against the law. It becomes a writer’s responsibility to ensure that they take the proper steps in order to successfully avoid defamation throughout their career. There are many aspects to consider, especially when creating a published work to steer clear of libel and slander. One of the first steps to take as a credible author would be to first check your sources. You want to make sure that your sources and information are accurate and that there were no mistakes made or facts misrepresented. You wouldn’t want to be associated with a “Stephen Glass” incident. It would also be wise to gather as many sources as possible to back up any information you publish. Be sure not to omit details that can change the viewpoint of your story and be as accurate as possible.
Most importantly, to be taken seriously as a credible and ethical author you should follow a guideline or checklist when avoiding a defamation lawsuit. Make sure you are clearly aware of what you are writing, or saying “on the record.” You should also be sure that any potential readers clearly understand what it is you are trying to convey and only say something that you are able to back up or prove. It could also help for a writer to use a language geared towards opinions and beliefs. It would definitely be a safer route to use a more opinionated tone when talking about matters you may not fully understand or when you wish to convey your own beliefs, but they should still always relate back to your hard-hitting facts.
It would also be beneficial when discussing crime related topics to have evidence to back up any claims you make. It would be wise to support any boldface accusations with the reasoning behind your words, as opposed to just stating “this person is guilty” or this person is a liar.” Finally, as an author you need to continually act ethically. If you follow a standard moral code of conduct, you will be a lesser target to sue for defamation and it will be more believable to a jury if you have no past experiences with slander or defamation.
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Once you have a finished piece of writing the next step is to edit the work for facts and grammar. This is one of the most important aspects of writing because as a respected author you need to establish credibility. An inaccurate piece of writing will hurt the author’s chance of finding a valued audience. After you go through the rewriting process you have certain responsibilities and duties to achieve in order to make sure that your work is grammatically correct. You want to check for spelling errors, possessives, correct apostrophes, plural and past tenses. In addition you want to correct any run on sentences or punctuation errors and comma usages. You are also responsible for checking work meanings, comprehension and style techniques used by the author. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the purpose of the work, to read each sentence and then each paragraph checking for errors of any kind. You also want to eliminate redundancy and make sure that the work is easy to comprehend. It is also a good technique to practice your editing skills and evaluate your before and after work.
Editing is not only focused on the grammatical portions of writing, but also making sure that the facts are accurate as well. Copy editors are held wholly responsible for the public trusting what they read. Fact checking includes many areas of writing but all comes down to making sure that the sources and information you are reading is trustworthy. Copy editors and fact checkers are responsible with checking dates, whether they are recent occasions, previous stories or historical events. They are also entrusted with checking the spelling of names, celebrities or less known figures, the names of places, accurate years and arithmetic. Fact checkers should know whether or not a person is deceased, phone numbers and time zones. They should also make sure to correctly check on quotes and even directions. The main focus a fact checker should also have is to make sure that anything that seems odd to them is checked out.
Proofreading is also a form of copyediting that revolves around not only grammar and fact checking but the writing as a whole. It is highly suggested that you come up with a checklist to focus on when editing a work of writing. This list should consist of fact checking, spell-checking, time set aside for even reading the work aloud. You should also focus on taking the time to look at every sentence individually as well as the product as a whole. Lastly, you should also take a close look at the format and make sure that the entire work flows together naturally. When all this is complete you should proof read the entire work one last time and with you credible blessing submit the work.
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There are many factors to consider when brainstorming a strong and attention grabbing headline. What is going to make someone stop and read your work if they are not immediately interested in the topic? A headline is the first thing your audience reads and if they are not enthralled or interested in the headline there is no chance that they will stop and read the actual writing piece. The idea behind a headline is to convince your reader that your story or writing is worth their time. Neal Patel and Joseph Putnam name four rules for choosing the perfect headline to compel readers to stick around. The four rules are that the headline should be either unique, ultra specific, contain a sense of urgency or be useful. Ideally the headline will accomplish at least two of these rules.
When trying to create a unique headline you are instructed to choose original words or catchy adjectives. Your headline should not be anything typical it should stand out. You shouldn’t be afraid to take risks because you would rather entice your reader with individuality rather than bore them with the usual headings. You also want your headline to be ultra-specific. You want your reader to know exactly what your article is going to provide. You want to present your headline and article as clear and effective and make sure to include any important eye-catching information for potential customers and readers. The third tip to consider for writing a strong headline would be to contain a sense of urgency, if necessary. You don’t want you customers or reader to become left out by a boring headline that doesn’t contain the important message you wish to convey. You can use a sense of urgency to get more readers involved if they feel like they need to be better educated on a topic or something important is happening that they wish to become more informed on. The last tip Patel and Putnam name is for the headline to be useful to the reader. If you are unable to convey a certain type of benefit the reader has for “staying tuned” then why should they bother to continue reading?
In conclusion, your main purpose as a writer is to attract a specific audience and to keep them reading every sentence. Your headline is just as, if not more important than your actual article, because that is what is going to catch the attention of your desired audience. You want to be interesting, use facts and numbers, original adjectives. You should include who, what, when, where, and why, if applicable. You want to grab the attention of your audience so they become informed or enticed by your writings. There are so many techniques out there and so many different approaches to writing that you are able to incorporate into your headlines to achieve a piece of writing that can relate to multiple audiences and captivate readers so they keep coming back for more.
Clark, Brian. (2006-2014). How to Write Magnetic Headlines. Retrieved From http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/
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Marsh, David. (2014 Jan. 9). The Secrets of Great Headline Writing. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/09/secrets-great-headline-writing
Patel, Neal and Joseph Putnam. Headlining Writing 101. Retrieved From http://www.quicksprout.com/the-definitive-guide-to-copywriting-chapter-3/
Zomick, Brad. 16 Resources For Writing Great Headlines: Guides And Tools. Retrieved from http://www.skilledup.com/learn/digital-content/writing-great-headlines-resources-guides-tools/