Lessons in Immersion

31 Mar

Frustration shows you’re learning. Confusion is just confusing.
When writing a news story a reporter has to research his or her topic and fact check more than they breathe. They don’t pass go and they certainly don’t provide their opinion. In short reporters don’t exist.
You carry that rule with you from your first news story to your grave— remaining objective, but effective. After a while it becomes second nature. You omit the “I’s”, refrain from the “we’s” and you don’t dare say “in my opinion—“unless you’re Nancy Grace. So when I was told to write an immersion piece I was taken by surprise.

An immersion piece uses the writer to take the reader to a certain place and time. The reader’s senses depend solely on those of the writer making them [the writer] a vital part of the story.
Therefore, when I began writing I had no idea where to start. Being overwhelmed with the power of “I” it was hard to narrow down my experiences to those that were important and those that were not. I assumed that since I was entering a different realm of writing my previous knowledge was irrelevant. However I found that just as you have to be careful about what you put in a news article, you have to also be selective about what you put in an immersion piece. William Zinsser said it best, “ … you must keep a tight rein on your subjective self … and keep an objective eye on the reader.”
With this in mind I weed out all the unimportant details- like how sweaty I was after a workout- and include those that provide a new vantage point for the reader. I’m learning to combine this new form of writing with my journalistic style, and in turn I’m becoming a better journalist.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Be Professional


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