Thursday, April 10, 2014

Encourage a Young Writer Day--Teach Your Students to Become Reporters

Today, April 10, 2014, is Encourage a Young Writer Day.  I've seen a number of articles on this, but I just want to make one suggestion: Teach you kids to become reporters. 

I remember when I got my first typewriter.  It was a Sears Portable, slick as a Corvette and with a lid that popped open and snapped shut.  Once I had that typewriter, I was never going back to my Mom's old Underwood that stuck on the "t." 

As soon as I got the machine wound up with ribbon, I began to write poetry--the likes of which the world has never seen.



"I was born of a washboard Mom
but school was big bad bomb,
until I got my typewriter
that kept me up all nighter."

Then I wrote a term paper for my history class:

"Abraham Lincoln was a great man, but he really had problems with his generals. Some were awful and they would not follow his orders.  Many historians believe that Lincoln was too patient with George B. McClellan, who was a great planner, but did not move fast enough to win battles.  Eventually, Lincoln asked Ulysses S. Grant to get the job done."

But the most fun I had was when my English teacher taught us to become reporters.  We could write news stories.  It was brilliant work that cast us into important roles as reporters--journalists.  I remember my first story.  It was a sparkling piece on a football game: "The Caravan torched the Tigers in Terre Haute in a tough battle on Tuesday night under the twinkling lights." Perfect for sports fans who wanted to know what really happened in that important game--except I left out the final score.  I learned from my mistakes. 

When students head into the real world, many of them will be working in offices.  Often doing routine things for companies that sell bleach, kitty litter, toilet seats, or smart phones. Almost all will need to write memos, proposals, reports and other documents.  Normally, they will be on dull subjects--but those kids who took reporting will be way ahead of the curb.  They will actually be able to write something that their co-workers can understand!

And if you teach them to be reporters when they are young, they will have fun and learn to communicate.  Each one will live out his or her own Walter Mitty adventure--crafting great stories on the biggest events.  They can have fun while they learn--and why not?  

I look back at my days back in school writing news and sports stories with great fondness.  I still have my copy of Interpretative Reporting by Douglas D. MacDougall, Revised 1949 Edition.  I think I'll put it next to my bed and reread it.

If you want to encourage young writers, start today to teach them to be reporters.

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Public Bonehead, Private Hero; The Real Legacy of  Baseball's Fred Merkle by Mike Cameron.  Mike learned his writing as a reporter and this book demonstrates the craft well.  It is both a baseball and a history book.  Quantity sales are available for classroom use at a great discount.  Write me at lmj.norris@gmail.com.  Sporting Chance Press Books.