Words are, of course,
the most powerful drug used by mankind.
For two years I wrote the monthly column “Industry Watch” for
Interface Tech News, a monthly print and online publication
serving Northern New England. When the editor gave me an assignment
and contact list, I interviewed key players in important industries
such as telecommunications and biotechnology, and then wrote a
900-word story and 300-word sidebar.
Writing a column involves all four kinds of prose: expository,
persuasive, descriptive, and narrative. Anyone who has ever been on
deadline has learned to adapt to the vagaries of telephone tag,
moment-by-moment changes that alter information, and the necessity
of confirming all information with each source.
Most important, as an editor critiquing and correcting my clients, I
know how it feels to be a writer who is edited! Here are two
examples of the kinds of communication that took place between my
editor and me:
Attached is the sidebar you wrote. Please review the final sentence,
which I underlined. It doesn’t make sense to me -- am I missing
something? Thanks. [The original sentence: For example, customers
can use an IP network to communicate to storage in distributed sites
around the country, but a Fiber Channel SAN in their centralized
Reply: Those are the
words of XX, analyst with Y Company. As a fix, I repeated the verb.
[The revised sentence: For example, customers can use an IP network
to communicate to storage in distributed sites around the country,
but CAN USE a Fiber Channel SAN in their centralized data system.]
called me with additional info --although they can’t disclose how
big a deal until regulatory approval happens, and that’s expected
the end of this month, so in a few weeks we could get more, or
perhaps a follow-up story.
I’ll go ahead with Company Y and Company Z, but have nothing on
Company X. That’s the only company that’s cited failure to get
through to me by telephone.
CD, CEO of Company V, just returned my call, finally. Although he
wants to put me in touch with EF, in charge of worldwide marketing
strategy, he thinks the story may be premature, as the deal still
needs regulatory approval. Company V actually partnered with Bigname
Company in acquiring Small Company, as Bigname Company will resell
the product to the feds. Do
you want me to continue, or shelve this one until regulatory
approval is done?
Yes, please continue. Did he give any indication that regulatory
approval would be denied? What are the odds? Write the story with
the idea in mind that this company is gearing up to do something
big-- reference the regs, especially if there's a reason to believe
it won't happen-- then give us a sense of what’s a stake here. How
big a deal is this, really? What are the advantages/challenges, and
what obstacles must be cleared to pull it off?
Non Fiction Example
Great article in the latest issue of Interface Tech News,
www.interfacenow.com on “Positioning for
Mergers & Acquisitions.” I don't know your background, but I am
always impressed when a reporter masters a technical subject well
enough to ‘get it right.’ It appears to me that you did. I am an M&A
advisor/business broker in
Portland, Maine, with 22 years experience, so I guess I would know.
Glen Cooper, CBA, BVAL
Certified Business Appraiser
Business Valuator Accredited for Litigation
President, Maine Business Brokers' Network
The editor then e-mailed me: “Your fan club
continues to grow! Kudos to you on a job well done.”
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