Reporting vs. Writing

A friend once told me there are two types of journalists: those who care about the story, and those who­­­ care about the writing. Very rarely do the two overlap.

In journalism school, I cared only about the story. I assumed editors would always fix my writing, but the story could make me famous. Too often, to break the story as soon as possible, I left eloquence by the wayside.

After working at a newspaper for two years, I realized journalism schools are pumping out people by the hundreds, who care only about the story. I read stories where the reporter didn’t know the difference (or just didn’t care) between the words were and we’re,, affect and effect, ex. and i.e., and so on.

I find it hard to imagine that John Updike or Gay Talese ever made such grave errors.

Recently, I made the switch to PR and it hasn’t been easy. I am now the pitcher instead of the catcher. While there always will be a great divide between journalism and PR, I think both sides can agree on the importance of story telling.

The main similarity I discovered in both PR and journalism is presentation is everything, whether it’s a story or a pitch. A respectable article loses credibility if a top source is spelled wrong or if it contains multiple verb tenses in the same sentence.

Whether or not either side acknowledges it, PR and journalism have a symbiotic relationship. PR professionals hope to coax a story while journalists try to write a fair one. Writers in both fields strive for the perfect balance of story and style.

Both industries look at the other’s job as easier. But, done well, neither the full article here.