HomeAbout/Meet the Staff
SPJ 23 Website

Invaluable advice free for the taking Tuesday in the Journalism Expo

By Billy O'Keefe

By Mark Anthony Smith
Robert Knight will offer free writing critiques until 2 p.m. Tuesday at the expo. Writers need to sign up for one of the time slots offered throughout the day.
“The best advice comes from someone with experience,” said Knight also known by his pen name Knight, Writer.
Knight, who authored the book “Journalistic Writing: Building the Skill, Honing the Craft,” said he learned about writing the hard way and wants to help fellow writers avoid some of the grief he experienced. He said his college professors and editors from early in his professional career were merciless.
“[They] beat the crap out of me,” he said.
Knight said he decided to coach others because he thinks the quality of writing has declined over the years.
In the one-on-one critiques, he will review the writer’s articles sentence by sentence and offer pointers on how to make them more accessible to readers.
Knight’s motto: “If it isn’t pulling the story along with it then get rid of it,” he said.
Writers – whether professional or amateur – make common mistakes, he said.
Novices tend to struggle with wordiness and redundancy, he said.
“They throw a lot more into a sentence than they should,” Knight added.
A session offering résumé critiques is also in high demand. Renee Petrina, a journalism instructor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and Lynn Walsh, a freelance journalist from Columbus, Ohio, are volunteering to help writers improve their resumes on Tuesday beginning at 9 a.m.
Petrina’s primary suggestions for creating a resume are to put the most important information first and to avoid long paragraphs.
“It is similar to news writing,” she said.
When it comes to mailing addresses, Petrina said to omit them altogether.
“Leave it out,” she said.
Since most people use e-mail and text messaging, mailing addresses are unnecessary on resumes, she said. There is also a chance that snail mail could go to an outdated address, she added, especially in the case of graduating college students.
Petrina said everyone should have more than one type of résumé because everything changes in journalism. Multiple résumés allow job seekers to tailor each to a specific position, she said.
“For instance, if someone wants to teach on the side, you need a separate résumé for that,” she said.
She said not to think of a résumé as yourself on paper but as your foot in the door.
Critiques are offered by signing up on a first-come, first-served basis.