‧ Make sure you get someone’s full name. This includes their Chinese names too. Look at our style for writing names and follow suit: Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen.
‧ Make sure your name spelling is correct. If you can, get a name card, or ask the interviewee to check the spelling of their names. Make sure you write clearly so that when you transfer to your computer you don’t have to wonder about the spelling.
‧ Try to include the person’s age. If they will not tell you, then make a note of it to show that you asked.
‧ Include the person’s designation. That means “who” they are. Donald Tsang becomes “Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen, 52...
‧ Generally the same as names, makes sure that you get the names right.
‧ Because our cover story is generally a feature story, you have some room to add in descriptions. Remember the reader cannot see, hear, taste and smell what you do. They cannot see if the person laughs, or how they laugh. Give your story some feeling.
‧ Keep your writing tight. Beware of meaningless phrases, e.g. “It must be pointed out” or “in conclusion”.
‧ Remember that you are writing for people your own age. Not professors in university, not even your teachers, or for me. You’re writing so that they will enjoy your work and find it interesting.
‧ Tell a good story. This is not a social sciences essay. It is, after all, a story. Remember that.
Writing for a newspaper
‧ Do not editorialise. While in school essays you are constantly asked for your opinion, in the newspaper we don’t want your opinion unless you are an expert.
‧ The moment you start to write the following phrases, you are probably editorialising
o I think...
o The government should...
o Everyone should/must/needs to
‧ Make sure that any claims you make are backed up by facts. You cannot just write: “There is an increase in elderly people in Hong Kong”. It has to be “According to government statistics” and you have to tell us which statistics in case we need to look them up.