Being a journalist means working long hours and dealing with tight deadlines to ensure you create a story worth telling. Because of this, and let’s be real here, there are times where you write a story quickly to ‘get it out of the way’ so that you can move on to your other tasks.

But, in doing that, you’re actually leaving quite a few things for the editors to fix, making their job 10 times harder than it should be.

With that in mind, media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg takes a closer look at some of the key things editors want journalists to watch out for in their work.

1. Editors want you to proofread your work

Proofreading requires you to read your work out loud and make sure that what you are saying is flowing and actually making sense. You also need to pay close attention to the way you have written any proper nouns in your content. For example, if you’re writing about a certain brand, have you double-checked whether it’s ‘Seven-Eleven’, ‘7-11’ or ‘7-Eleven’?

A great way to ensure you stick to a structure is to make use of a style guide that is tailored to the common errors you usually make. And if your editor hasn’t made you one, it might be something to suggest in your next team meeting. This will allow you to keep those common mistakes in mind while you are busy writing.

2. Editors want you to use high-quality images for your stories

When you send your story to the editors and the image you have attached is blurry and low quality, you are making it the editor’s problem to find another image that will work with your article.

It’s also important to know what dimensions the image needs to be and what the requirements are before just attaching an image that just doesn’t work.

A great way to ensure your image is of high-quality is to make sure it’s at least 300 pixels per inch as this will ensure that your image will appear sharp and crisp.

3. Editors want you to keep your content coherent

At times, when writers create content, they can get on a roll and they may end up writing things that make sense to them ... but not so much to other people. Editors want journalists to write their content in such a way that it will make sense to anyone reading it.

The best way to do this is to imagine that you are explaining your content to someone else, and for the sake of using simple language that everyone will understand, imagine that person is at a grade eight reading level. This will come in real handy when you are writing about a difficult topic such as artificial intelligence and all of the underlying technologies under this umbrella term.

Most importantly, writers need to determine who the audience is that they are writing for, and then ensure that their content makes sense to that particular audience.

4. Editors want you to focus on your grammar and language usage

There are countless free tools online that you can use to check your grammar and language usage, meaning that there are no more excuses! Save your editor some time by utilising these tools so that your editor doesn’t have to waste any going over your work that’s riddled with silly spelling errors.

Editors have a lot to look at, like grammar, language usage, coherency and the flow of your content. If you send in work with unnecessary grammar and spelling errors, you’re not only wasting your own time but also theirs, as they’ll have to fix these easily solvable errors before getting to the real work.

This means that you might miss your deadline or that you put the editor behind schedule. To make the editing process a quick and efficient one, it’s best to make sure everything is up to standard.

You can make use of the free version of Grammarly or Grammar Check as an easy and effective way to ensure that your content is error-free.

5. Editors want you to steer clear of plagiarism and copyright

It’s a lot easier to commit copyright infringement and plagiarism than one might think. For example, when doing research for a piece that you are writing, you might copy and paste a good quote to back up a point and end up forgetting to source the person or link back to the original content.

As the writer, you should not leave it up to the editor to check your work and make sure that it’s free of copyright or plagiarism. Remember, it’s your name going on the article, meaning if there is an issue regarding copyright or plagiarism, it’s not their fault, but yours.

The best way to avoid plagiarising someone else's ideas is to do your research, make notes and then close all the tabs. Once you have thought about what it is you’re going to write and have formed your own thoughts and opinions on the topic, then start writing.

And remember, if you do use a quote from another person or an idea from another article, be sure to reference the correct people and always link back to the original source.

Editors, what are some other things you want journalists to know? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below.

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Speaking of plagiarism, be sure to read Five FAQs about copyright answered to ensure that you’re always fully prepared and following the rules.
*Image courtesy of Pixabay