• WHO?
  • WHAT?
  • WHERE?
  • WHEN?
  • WHY?

Journalism 100 folks! Do it. Do it right. Do it right now. Eat it. Drink it. Breathe it. Excrete it. Whiskey-5-Hotel! The ‘Hotel’ being How? (Not always necessary, but useful to help remember the 5 Ws.)

Journalism is not rocket science. It’s not accounting, biochemistry, or ikebana. It’s the ghost of Edward R. Murrow (may he rest in peace, regardless of the sins perpetrated by the present cadre of imposters) shouting down from the senior editor’s desk in the hereafter. 

If you can’t explain, define, or simply identify the 5Ws in an article, don’t write anything. Yahoo is possibly the worst miscreant in the matter of acceptable reportage. Although AP is in close running. Reuters must still have human editors, because their reporting is still on par. Please don’t get me started on misspelled words or completely wrong words due to autocorrect. Computers have improved our ability to report, but has also increased laziness in editing.

My rant in favor of W5H is not limited to journalism. It extends back into the public school system. My elder child sometimes brings me her work to proofread. Over the course of time, maybe these past five years, she has improved greatly. Yet sometimes, she brings home graded papers – A’s mostly – that I would have given a C to. When I was a substitute teacher, I saw what passes for average in the school system. I am agog that we are the dominant species on the planet.

Not to say there are exceptions. I came across an eighth grader that was doing creative writing at college level. My child can write better when she tries, so I do harp on her to do her best. (Special note: I flunked HS freshman English. Yet in college, fifteen years later, I aced all my required courses. Strange how maturity manifests itself.)