Former Largs and Millport Weekly News editor Drew Cochrane added spice and humour to the serious topic of article writing when giving a well-received talk on 26th October.
Many members of the forty-strong group filled the hall to be entertained and informed by the long-time journalist who came from Ardrossan to Largs in 1974 and whose experience of local journalism provided plenty of local anecdotes and insights; and unintentionally ambiguous headlines that had the audience giggling and laughing out loud.
Drew who is just back from New York reminded the group that Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens were journalists, and said that news editors and sub-editors have shaped our modern language. He read an extract from ‘Pride and Prejudice’ remarking that such elaborate sentences were not the clear and concise style required by today’s journalistic style. Newspapers require every sentence to be clear at first glance and should not give too many ideas at one time. Drew’s ‘journalese’ versions of Jane Austen’s gained appreciative chuckles from the knowledgeable audience.
Citing Harold Evans’ ‘Essential English for Journalists and Writers’ as the rule book that guided against the sort of writing that sub-editors had to ‘amputate’ because of badly-structured copy, Drew reminisced about headlines and economy of words. One, ‘now a little dated’ he admitted, regarding Michael Foot’s appointment within CND, was FOOT HEADS ARMS BODY.
Remembering the time when a Fiat car cost £1400 when he started in Largs learning his business through working, Mr Cochrane encouraged members to write to the Wee Paper and submit articles and letters about items that concerned them. He commented on TV news channels, like Fox News, agreeing that before it is history it is NEWS and thus of importance to us.
He set a competition for a 600-words article discussing ‘Is Largs becoming like Blackpool, or Bearsden? Or another?’, with adjudication on 4th January 2016. This competition is now closed.