Lead Writing 101

by Mary Jackson As the print media takes a back seat to web-based publications, lead writing is an increasingly essential skill. When online, a reader often only sees the first sentence of an article and must click for more. Whether on paper or the computer screen, a lead serves as readers “first impression,” and must […]

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Ask the Director: Should freelancers send a letter of introduction?

“Ask Doug” is an advice column by EPA Executive Director Doug Trouten, based on questions he encounters during the course of his duties.

Dear Doug:

Someone in our writers group  is insisting that the new modus operandi is to send the editor a “letter of introduction.” This is supposed to be a one-page letter that tells about he writer and his or her interests. From this one page introduction, the editor is supposed to give assignments to a writer he or she has never worked with before.  Apparently, this is something Writers Digest has told writers they must have and do. So I’m trying to get a feel. Have I just missed something? Is this indeed the new modus operandi?  Would any of you give an assignment to an unknown writer because you receive a “letter of introduction”? 

–Needs no introduction

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Ask the Director

Over the years, the role of EPA’s executive director has grown to include a fair amount of consultation to the members. Former director, Doug Trouten, realized that many of the answers he provided to individual inquiries would be helpful for the entire membership. One of EPA’s board members suggested adding an “Ask Doug” section to […]

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Word ‘Czars’ ‘Unfriend’ 15 Words

Fifteen overused, misused and generally  useless words were “unfriended” by the word “czars” at Lake Superior State University. The school welcomed the new year with its 35th annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English.”

“The list this year is a ‘teachable moment’ conducted free of ‘tweets,'” said a Word Banishment spokesman who was “chillaxin'” for the holidays. “‘In these economic times’, purging our language of ‘toxic assets’ is a ‘stimulus’ effort that’s ‘too big to fail.'”

Here’s the 2010 list, with comments from the listmakers and the folks who nominated these tired terms:

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The Truth: Video Example

The order in which information is presented can make all the difference in the world. Here’s a clever piece shown at a recent Youth Specialties convention that powerfully makes that point.

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Them’s Fighting Words!

Stories that use these words are much more likely than others to be involved in libel suits. Calling someone a "coward" or a "fool" in print is a quick way to learn more about the judicial system than you really want to know. Here’s a list of "danger words" compiled by Bruce Sanford, counsel for the Society of Professional Journalists.

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