Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tips: What's your style?

(This is part of my series of tips for aspiring football writers out there who want to start their own blogs, or even, aspire to become a sportswriter.  Don't be afraid, this is how I started.  I don't have a mass com or even journalism degree.  My only journalistic training were the ones I had in elementary and high school)
Style here doesn’t refer to the way you form your stories but is a set of guidelines that helps give your story a consistent look. Some of the rules are used by journalists, and, you could adopt them but there are some rules that could be bent.

Numbers.Spell out one to nine as well as first, second….ninth but not for 10, 11 or 10th, 11th.  The exemption is for scores, as it should be 4-0, not four-zero.

Dates.  It’s good if you abbreviate months with more than five letters, like, Jan. 5 and not January 5 or Sept. 9 and not September 9, but remember, only use abbreviation for a specific date so “last September” but not “last Sept.” 
Another thing, you only need to put the year if you refer to the past or future, if you refer to this year, you don’t have to put it. So, it’s, “The Philippines will meet Indonesia on June 5,” or, “The Philippines will play Indonesia on May 27, 2013.”

Teams, plural or singular? Now this is tricky.  Back in the late 90s to the early 2000s, the general rule of thumb was teams should be considered plural so “Manchester United are the strongest team in Europe... or the Philippines are one of the weakest teams in Southeast Asia..” was the norm, as is the practice in England.

But that changed a few years ago and all teams now are considered singular so, here, it is, “Manchester United is no longer a powerhouse in Europe.” Or “The Philippines is now one of the strong teams in Southeast Asia.”

It’s better if you adopt the local style and treat teams as singular as you will be writing for an audience that is used to it.

Remember, too, that teams may be singular, but the rule changes when you use a monicker, so, “Loyola Meralco is…” but “the Loyola Meralco Sparks are.”

Names.  Always use full name when you first mention a person, and only the surname in succeeding mentions. So, “Dan Palami said Kia Motors will invite Maria Sharapova to an Azkals home match…According to Palami.”

If you’re writing a column, or an opinion piece, you may use the first name.

Acronyms: The rule of thumb is that you always spell out acronyms the first time you mention them, and use the acronyms next. But you will be writing for an audience that already knows what the PFF, AFC, AFF, Fifa, POC or PSC stand for, so no need for that.

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