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Newspapers are frequently below the standard of pure English; the pupil should therefore bear in mind that words are not to be accepted simply because they are used by the morning journals.
In addition to the use of pure, grammatical English, the qualities of style to be cultivated by a writer of news are accuracy, condensation, and clearness.
1. Accuracy in a news item has a twofold signification. The language should accurately convey the meaning which the writer intends, and the facts themselves should be undeniable. A careful selection of words, and a proper construction of sentences, will enable the writer to express himself so that his meaning can not be mistaken.
2. Condensation requires that the writer should give his information in the briefest manner consistent with clearness of statement. It does not imply that he should sup. press the details of an occurrence, for these the reader will demand. He should, however, state a fact but once, and that in concise language.
3. Clearness is most imperatively demanded of a news writer. People read news in haste, hence the meaning should be so plain that “he may run that readeth it."
The business of writing news is very different from that of writing editorials. The one simply records the facts of the day; the other discusses those facts, and gives opinions about them, commending or condemning, explaining or defending, persuading and exhorting, assigning causes and suggesting remedies. The one writes with special refere to accuracy, clearness, and brevity; the other employs almost every grace and excellence of style known to rhetoric, and needs for his task a knowledge as varied as the entire range of subjects included in the scope of his paper.
EXERCISES IN PARAPHRASE AND COMPOSITION.
AMONG the dwellers in the silent fields
The natural heart is touched, and public way
And crowded street resound with ballad strains,
Inspired by one whose very name bespeaks
Favor divine, exalting human love;
Whom, since her birth on bleak Northumbria's coast,
Known unto few, but prized as far as known,
A single Act endears to high and low
Through the whole land—to Manhood, moved in spite
Of the world's freezing cares—to generous Youth-
To Infancy, that lisps her praise—to Age,
Whose eye reflects it, glistening through a tear
Of tremulous admiration. Such true fame
Awaits her now; but, verily, good deeds
Do not imperishable record find
Save in the rolls of heaven, where hers may live
A theme for angels, when they celebrate
The high-souled virtues which forgetful earth
Has witnessed. Oh! that winds and waves could speak
Of things which their united power called forth
From the pure depths of her humanity!
A Maiden gentle, yet, at duty's call,
Firm and unflinching as the Light-house reared
On the Island-rock, her lonely dwelling-place. *
All night the storm had raged, nor ceased, nor paused,
When, as day broke, the Maid, through misty air,
Espies far off a Wreck amid the surf,
Beating on one of those disastrous isles-
Half of a Vessel, half-no more; the rest
Had vanished, swallowed up with all that there
Had for the common safety striven in vain,
Or thither thronged for refuge. With quick glance
Daughter and Sire through optic-glass discern,
Clinging about the remnants of this Ship,
Creatures, how precious in the Maiden's sight!
For whom, belike, the old Man grieves still more
Than for their fellow-sufferers engulfed
Where every parting agony is hushed,
And hope and fear mix not in further strife.
“But courage, Father! let us out to sea-
A few may yet be saved." The Daughter's words,
Her earnest tone, and look beaming with faith,
Dispel the Father's doubts : nor do they lack
The noble-minded Mother's helping hand
To launch the boat; and with her blessing cheered,
And inwardly sustained by silent prayer,
Together they put forth, Father and Child !
Each grasps an oar, and struggling on they go-
Rivals in effort; and, alike intent
Here to elude and there surmount, they watch
The billows lengthening, mutually crossed
And shattered, and regathering their might;
As if the tumult, by the Almighty's will
Were, in the conscious sea, roused and prolonged
That woman's fortitude-so tried—so proved
May brighten more and more!
True to the mark,
They stem the current of that perilous gorge,
Their arms still strengthening with the strengthening heart,
Though danger, as the Wreck is neared, becomes
'More imminent. Not unseen do they approach;
And rapture, with varieties of fear
Incessantly conflicting, thrills the frames
Of those who, in that dauntless energy,
Foretaste deliverance; but the least perturbed
Can scarcely trust his eyes, when he perceives
That of the pair-tossed on the waves to bring
Hope to the hopeless, to the dying, life-
One is a Woman, a poor earthly sister;
Or, be the Visitant other than she seems,
A guardian Spirit sent from pitying Heaven,
In woman's shape. But why prolong the tale,
Casting meek words amid a host of thoughts
Armed to repel them? Every hazard faced
And difficulty mastered, with resolve
That no one breathing should be left to perish,
This last remainder of the crew are all
Placed in the little boat, then o'er the deep
Are safely borne, landed upon the beach,
And, in fulfillment of God's mercy, lodged
Within the sheltering Light-house. Shout, ye Waves !
Send forth a song of triumph. Waves and Winds,
Exult in this deliverance wrought through faith
In Him whose Providence your rage hath served!
Ye screaming Sea-mews, in the concert join!
And would that some immortal Voice-a Voice
Fitly attuned to all that gratitude
Breathes out from floor or couch through pallid lips
Of the survivors—to the clouds might bear-
Blended with praise of that parental love,
Beneath whose watchful eye the Maiden grew
Pious and pure, modest and yet so brave,
Though young so wise, though meek so resolute-
Might carry to the clouds and to the stars,
Yea, to celestial Choirs, GRACE DARLING's name!
NINE-AND-TWENTY knights of fame
Hung their shields in Branksome-Hall;
Nine-and-twenty squires of name
Brought them their steeds to bower from stall;
Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall
Waited, duteous, on them all:
They were all knights of mettle true,
Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch.
Ten of them were sheathed in steel,
With belted sword and spur on heel :
They quitted not their harness bright,
Neither by day nor yet by night:
They lay down to rest,
With corslet laced,
Pillowed on buckler cold and hard;
They carved at the meal
With gloves of steel, And they drank the red wine through the helmet barred. Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men, Waited the beck of the warders ten; Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight, Stood saddled in stable day and night; Barbed with frontlet of steel, I trow, And with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow; A hundred more fed free in stall :Such was the custom of Branksome-Hall.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
The fowls of heaven,
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
Which Providence assigns them. One alone,
The redbreast, sacred to the household gods,
Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky,
In joyless fields and thorny thickets leaves
His shivering mates, and pays to trusted man
His annual visit. Half-afraid, he first
Against the window beats; then, brisk, alights
On the warm hearth ; then, hopping o'er the floor,
Eyes all the smiling family askance,
And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is;
Till, more familiar grown, the table-crumbs
Attract his slender feet.