Sunday, 29 August 2010

Waterhouse is back

What is this style?
Why do some stories, captions and headlines have it and others not? It would be fruitless to try to define it – as Fats Waller said when asked for a definition of jazz, ‘Lady, if you have to ask, I can’t tell you.’ Obviously it demands flair, plus professionalism – two commodities that have never been in short supply in popular journalism. It demands experience, a quality that may be taken for granted in Fleet Street. For the rest, it consists simply of choosing a handful of words from the half a million or so samples available, and arranging them in the best order.
Many of you who have been on my courses will recognise this extract from the late Keith Waterhouse's classic but out-of-print  book Newspaper Style. I have long referred to my dog-eared old edition when talking about language to journalists and it has been a frustration that they have not been able to get hold of their own copy. Well, from this Friday they will be able to. Waterhouse on Newspaper Style is being republished by Revel Barker at £9.99 and is available from Book Depository, or amazon or Waterstones, or on order from any half-decent bookshop.
There are full details and reviews on the excellent Gentleman Ranters website. 
It really is the most entertaining manual on journalese and a must-have book for any journalist. If you haven't got a copy, and even if you have, get your order in. Mine already is.

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