Writing is Central to Every Area of Mass Communication

Introduction
Some students of Mass Communication have the erroneous impression that they can get by in school and have a successful career subsequently without learning how to write. It is not uncommon to hear students say, “I intend to be a famous broadcast presenter,” “I’ll go into PR big time,” and the good one, “I have no interest in reporting wahala,” thinking it is only reporters who need writing skills to excel. This type of attitude amounts to laying a foundation for career suicide down the line.

In this post, I explain the relevance and indispensability of writing to various areas of Mass Communication to challenge students and practitioners who are putting the barest minimum of efforts into improving their writing abilities to start making hay while the sun shines.

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Questions:
***What career do you want to pursue after graduation?
***How are you ensuring that you are adequately learning the skills required for that career?
************

Relevance of writing in different areas of Mass Communication

Journalism
It is widely known that the business of reporting news, analysing and commenting on it, cannot be done without writing. This is why students who aspire to be journalists are the most assiduous in learning how to write. Whether a journalist works in print media, broadcast media or on the web, he needs to write stories and analysis that are accurate, fair, balanced, vivid and capable of giving his readers/audience a vicarious experience of the events covered. Poor vocabulary translates to limited descriptive abilities, wrong word usage and unnecessarily short and insipid accounts. Poor grammar elicits confusion and irritation among the receivers of the journalist’s reports. Unintentional mistakes pop up because such journalists are unable to convey what they actually have in mind and their reporting is never trenchant enough to move those concerned to act.

News, features, editorials, commentaries and every other form of journalistic piece are only as useful as the writing skills of those who compose them.

Broadcasting
A big chunk of air time in many broadcasting stations is devoted to journalism. Since the inception of Cable News Network in 1980 as a 24-hour cable news channel, many other exclusive news channels have sprung up. So the desire to be a glamorous broadcaster requires the ability to write if one intends to work in these news stations. Some people think that a news caster does not need writing skills, but most stations require their anchors to be seasoned reporters who can write news bulletins and phrase pertinent questions to ask news sources on air, be they correspondents, experts or news makers.

Other programmes aired on broadcast stations require properly tailored scripts, which a poor writer will mangle. For example, the moderator of a panel discussion programme or someone in his or her team needs to write a background piece on the topic for each episode of the programme to set the context for the discussion. This is also true for the hosts of news and current affairs shows that offer interpretation and commentary on important issues and events. They always start their shows with incisive opening monologues, which they and the writers for their shows craft. Even a duty announcer, who may be a junior staff, needs to compose witty remarks to keep the audience engaged and entertained, besides the written formal announcements he or she makes.

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Excellent language skills are crucial for broadcasters because mistakes made live on air can be more damaging than those in print, which can be quietly corrected without most readers catching it.

Advertising
To promote a person, product, group, organisation or idea, advertising agencies employ copy writers who compose catchy, memorable and persuasive messages. They are able to use words, sometimes in a rhythmic and rhyming fashion, to convey convincing appeals. It is clear from the foregoing that it takes a high level of craftsmanship to accomplish this. Advertisers pitch for accounts also and this requires writing and demonstration that will be moving enough to earn them new clients amidst stiff competition. These are just some examples of how writing is pertinent in advertising.

Public Relations (PR)
The amount of writing done in public relations will astound any young person who lands a job in a PR firm, thinking it’s about sitting in a swivel chair in an air-conditioned office meeting important personalities. Take the media relations officers of companies or press secretaries (called media aides in some quarters), the job description entails writing press releases- which are more or less news stories from PR practitioners distributed to news media on important developments in their organisations or plans/achievements by their principals; monitoring the media and issuing statements confirming or refuting claims made in reports about their bosses/organisations; writing supplements, advertorials, documentaries and other promotional packages for placement in the media; hosting media briefings where they release statements and field questions and issue follow-up statements thereafter.

It is clear that no one who is weak in writing can do the foregoing effectively nor do well in any other PR position. This is why many media aides are experienced journalists who have honed their writing skills over many years of practice on the job. They also know the media terrain very well by virtue of their work in various media organisations and have developed a network of colleagues in many media which makes it easier for them to attract and successfully request for publicity- which is a major tool of PR practice.

Questions
***How is writing pertinent to those working in film?
***How is writing important in book publishing?
***How is writing relevant in the field of sound recordings?
***Describe the career path of these two media aides to President Buhari:
• Femi Adesina
• Garba Shehu

Three ways to improve one’s writing skills

***Improving one’s writing abilities must necessarily involve becoming a voracious reader. Avid reading of the works of great writers, be they journalists, poets, playwrights, novelists or essayists, is indispensable in the quest to achieve verbal craftsmanship.

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***The study of language textbooks that teach grammar, sentence construction and other fundamentals of the use of language is invaluable. Students should evaluate themselves to know the level where they need to start from. Some need to go back to primary or secondary level language textbooks to learn about singular and plural, words and their opposites, basic vocabulary building, summary and comprehension, etc. This is the result of having a poor foundation at lower levels of education, which if not corrected, will prevent advancement to excellent writing.

The use of textbooks that specifically teach how to write is also important. As one masters the basics of the language, it is necessary to learn about writing techniques and how to do various forms of writing- formal, informal; informative, educational, entertaining and persuasive; news, features, commentaries, etc.

***Practice in writing is inescapable for those who will excel at it. As American writer, John Angus McPhee once stated, it’s impossible to become a writer without actually writing. So the path to renown involves exercising oneself in writing constantly. Find a mentor or group of writers to criticise and help you fine-tune your work. Also, share your writing through various fora, e.g. via your social media accounts and invite candid reactions from readers. You can only get better that way.

Further reading:
Brande, D. (1981). On becoming a writer. Lost Angeles, CA: J. P. Thatcher Inc. (A classic)

Murthy, J. D. (2007). Contemporary English grammar. Lagos, Nigeria: Book Master.

Oji, N. (1988). English grammar for advanced students.. Uruowulu-Obosi, Nigeria: Pacific Publishers.

Eyisi, J. (2004). Common errors in the use of English. Onitsha, Nigeria: Africana First Publishers.

Ohaja, E.U. (2005) Feature writing simplified. Enugu, Nigeria: El ‘Demak.

Ohaja, E. U. (2004) Magazine article writing. Lagos, Nigeria: John Letterman.

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

78 comments

  • Enukora Onyedikachi

    Thank you ma for this. I want to be a journalist, and I’m testing my hands on poems and feature writing.

  • Isaac sopuruchi peace

    I am actually scared of writing. I hate being critized and some people use harsh tones on someone while trying to correct them.

    • You need a kind mentor who will point out both the strengths and weaknesses of your writing and advise you on how to correct your mistakes.

      You don’t need harsh people around you, whether it is to correct yoyr writing or even in any other area of your life. Harshness is toxic and if you tell the person to be kind and they refuse, then avoid them if you can.

  • Igbokwe Rita Chinecherem

    Wow…… It is as if this write-up is especially written to enlighten me because am one of those students that are like “I want to become a news caster, I want to become a broadcaster …bla bla bla” trying to run away from or avoid anything that has to do with writing. Thank you very much Ma for the enlightenment, God bless you.

  • Stephen Happiness .C .

    This is awesomely amazing! Never thought one who works in a PR firm needs to be assiduous in learning how to write. Thanks a lot ma’am.

    • Praise God! I barely scratched the surface. I just want to challenge you guys to go at it without delay. The competition out there is very stiff. You don’t want people who read English and Pol. Sc. taking your jobs. You’re lifted in Jesus’ name.

  • Umahi W

    I have always loved writing…behind the scene kind of person.
    This is like a validation for me.
    Thank you ma’am.

    Much respect.

  • Iwuh Donald

    Brilliant read ma!! and thanks for this. I have realized how important writing is and have begun to work on improving my writing.
    That said, Writing has become a key ingredient to succeeding in any field in today’s world, but clear writing is even more important so much so that employers are now looking to hire the best writers.
    Why???
    Because as William Zinsser puts it, “writing is thinking on paper. Anyone who writes clearly should be able to think clearly – about any subject at all.
    He goes on to add that “…an idea can have value in itself, but its usefulness diminishes to the extent that you can’t articulate it to someone else.
    For everyone reading this, you should check out William Zinsser’s classics “On writing well” and Writing to learn”.

    • Thanknyou for reminding me of the great William Zinsser. I’ll add the book you mentioned. If dishonest borrowers have not seized it, I should still have that book on my shelf. I pray that your efforts at improving your writing skills best much fruit and take you places in Jesus’ name.

  • Chinecherem Stephens

    Thank you, ma, for this enlightenment! I have learned that I can not get it right if I don’t practise. Constant practice has been a challenge for me. This post is very helpful.

  • Anyanwu Millicent. O

    The importance of effective writing cannot be over emphasised!

    An educative piece.
    Well-done, ma.

  • NKWOCHA CHIBUEZE INNOCENT

    Really, the importance of writing is so obvious in any area of mass communication. I remember during my IT in a broadcast station, I was still the one writing my reports, so acquiring writing skill is something every mass communication student should take seriously.

  • Willie Albert Zikiye

    “Writing is an art that requires great dedication, discipline and practice.” Said author of Feature writing for Newspaper, Daniel R. Williamson. “Talent and Technical knowledge are useless without a large share of those other virtues.
    Any mass communication student who turns away from writing is like “living in a fool’s paradise.”
    Apparently, there is no aspect of mass communication that does not deal with good writing.
    Good writing is the gospel of mass communication.
    Ma, thank you so much for the clarion call of the nitty gritty of good writing in all areas of mass communication.

  • Obeta Lillian Chiamaka

    Writing is a really important and essential part of being a Masscommunication student or being a journalist. This guides are really helpful. Most people don’t give much importance to writing as being part of Journalism but this is a very helpful guide. Thank you ma’am

    • You’re confusing journalism with mass communication. The latter is wider and I don’t know anyone in or aspiring to enter journalism who underestimates the importance of writing. The problem is with those interested in other areas of mass communication. Perhaps, you should read the post again to better understand my point. God bless you!

  • Ezidimma Odinakachukwu Oluchukwu

    Journalism and writing goes hand in hand. As a journalist it is of importance to be very good with your writing skills as it’s a very good attibute as a journalist..Thank you very much ma for educating us more on this ma

  • Ozougwu Ifunanya

    This is a wonderful piece ma. I’m really excited to learn more about writing from you

  • Oringanje Chinonso Jnr.-Gerald

    Thank you ma for the enlightenment! I’m yet to discover my writing ability. I discovered I’ve the fear of writing and also expressing myself publicly. The worst of it all is that I still don’t know the area or field in Mass Communication I best fit in.

  • Anekwe Paschaline Chidera

    This is very enlightening. A lot of people have the misconception that writing is restricted to one part of mass communication, thank you for clearing this up and educating us on the right mindset.

  • Ndubuisi peace udoka

    Thank you ma. This is educative I have learnt allot from this.

  • Joseph Chizoba Kingsley

    I can’t express the joy I have for this post you have made. Ma you are indeed a woman of substance. One of the great effort you have made to make sure that we, students of Mass communication, practice our writing skills is the creation of website where we can post our write-ups. May God reword you ma. We love you.

  • Ive been battling with making a decision In what to venture on in the mass communication… I’m amazed at the light and great insight I encountered while reading this. Now I can proudly boast of what I want to be without any confusion.
    Thank you ma for opening my eyes .

    • Care to share what you want to do? 😀😀😀

      • Odumuko Oluchukwu Victoria

        To be very honest, I am one of those mass communication students who wants to major in broadcasting and do not see the need to practice or learn writing but this post has definitely changed my perspective.
        Writing may not come as easily to me as speaking does but I am willing to try.

  • Orieji christiana Amarachi

    Thank you so much ma. This is so enlighting because I never knew that as a newscaster one needs to be a good writer as well and am grateful for this ma. This post is pertinent to every young aspiring writer and to every student of mass communication if he/she wants to excel in this field.

  • Pamela Chigbu

    Wow, this is really an eye opener. It just revealed to me that all the various branches of mass communication must demand good writing skills. I learnt a lot reading this and thank you ma for the tips on being a good and excellent writer.

  • Neddu Raphael

    Thank you very much for the inspiration. A whole lot of Mass Communication students dread writing like poison. Some feel that writing is a prison they have to break out of, forgetting that it is not just fundamental to Mass Communication but also applicable to other spheres of life. We need to understand the basis of writing, we need to familiarize ourselves with how notable journalists got “up there” with their writing.
    If we can get a taste of writing and see the world it offers clearly, then the journalistic approach to let the would be much easier.
    Thank you, ma.

  • Ejiofor Emmanuel

    One cannot write without practicing and writing is indispensable to every area of mass communication.

    Unfortunately, practicing is my problem. This post has indeed reminded me of how important it is that I get my pen and book to practice.

    “Some need to go back to primary or secondary level language textbooks to learn about singular and plural, words and their opposites, basic vocabulary building, summary and comprehension, etc.” This particular sentence may sound funny and insulting to undergraduates but this is the bitter truth. We need to stoop low to learn the basics of writing if we are to really progress in writing.

    Thank you ma for speaking to me

  • Paschal Odigonma Victoria

    I believe writing is very essential in so many careers, practically unavoidable. As you said, to be able to write, we have to read. Taking that advice, I believe it’s time to stop dodging writing and start embracing it. Considering the fact that I have A LOT of writing to do this 3rd year.

  • Amaugo, Stephanie Chidinma

    Thank you for elaborating on the need for writing in the different areas of mass communication. One of my goals this year is to write daily. It’s not been easy because sometimes I’m void of what to write or I end up writing very short sentences. Other times, I skip a day or two and it’s very discouraging. Nevertheless, I’ll continue to write. I totally agree with going back to read primary and secondary school English textbooks. Most of them are very helpful. Thank you, Ma!

  • Ugwoke Jennifer Chinecherem

    This write up must be a divine one .it is as though it was written for me.it opened my eyes to understand so many things about mass communication. I can’t even tell how scared I become each time I hear someone mention writing in my presence. I never knew that writing is also that important in broadcasting .God helping me I will try out these outlined ways to improving one’s writing skill. God bless you Ma.

    • My dear, you don’t have to be afraid of writing. From your comment, your language is quite good. Just begin small, with short posts on social media. Chances are you’ll begin to enjoy it after a while. God’s grace!

  • Auwal Isa

    This piece is indeed a wakeup call, especially to me. I have this lukewarm attitude towards writing even though I am a practitioner. My major headache is vocabulary and how to play around with it, but this piece is spurring me to rise up to the challenge. God bless you, ma!

    • Vocabulary building is a never-ending process for all of us because language is dynamic. So however many the words we know, there will always be new words we need to learn and new meanings that old words have acquired over time for us to apprise ourselves of.
      This is where constant reading helps. We not only come across new words and their meanings, we learn lessons in word usage from the context in which the words were used.
      It gets exciting as your reservoir of words grows and you can substitute words while you write to make your writing more punchy, evocative or incisive.

  • Obiaga ifunanya

    To be honest I was also this delusional and unwise to think it doesn’t matter if I knew how to write properly, until during the COVID-19 lockdown I started looking for a job and most of them required me writing, even a marketing job. I had to take an online course to get enlightened and started practising writing more often for script, advertising and for tv. I used to want to be a tv presenter at a point in my life but at this point, that has actually changed.

  • Shalom Oparaugo

    Nice article Ma, I am really challenged by this article and would love to improve my writing and creativity in the area of Advertising and Public Relations.. Now I know I have got to sit up!!… Thanks Ma’m

  • Obi Chisom Vanessa

    I do understand how writing can be scary, it sometimes feels like baring out your thoughts to the open which can sometimes be vulnerable but as you have pointed out indeed its unavoidable for us in the mass communication department.
    Thanks for your words of advice once again Ma.

  • In my first year, I always thought being a broadcaster had nothing to do with writing but just your confidence, boldness and your ability to speak in public. But during my I.T at “The Nation,” I learnt it will be to your own advantage if one had good writing skills alongside broadcasting competence. Thank you, Ma, for explaining more on this topic.

  • Such a wonderful enlightenment added today. Thanks so much Dr.
    You are superb!

  • MBAM PATRICK CHINONYELUM

    Ma, it seems you are referring to me. The way my friends criticized my work made me feel that this writing stuff is not for me. But after my Internship in Solid Fm, right in the news department, I discovered that you can only learn how to write when you start writing. Thank you, ma👍

  • Onah Kenneth C

    I wish I could just start immediately.
    Part of driving force to my studying Mass communication is the love of writing.
    Well, I just can’t say what has happened to that force since I entered school.
    Thanks ma for the advice and reminder.
    More of this would Awaken ppl like me…

  • Jibulu Ngozi

    Writing is very essential in our discipline,no matter the career one choose after school writing is required. Thank you for enlightening me on the importance of writing.

  • chukwuneke adaeze jennifer

    yes, as a journalist and a mass communicator in general you should be able to write freely without being scared of criticism from your superior or those in competition with you cause we learn everyday … we should be able to have written at least some amount of poems and fictional stories that are published before we graduate and go into the world where we have bigger competitors.

  • RICHARDS MERCY ORIGHOMISAN

    Thanks a whole lot ma for always been an encouragement, my issue with writing is Inconsistency, but i’m sure if i just keep at it I’ll be better. And yes maaaa, going back to secondary school books, truly it is needed, it’s still very fresh in my memory how you advised us in first year to go back to primary and secondary school english texts, i simply laughed it off and did nothing about it, but today i see my foolishness, thank God i have repented. thanks a whole lot ma.

  • Abasiofon Nkem

    You are indeed right, ma! How I wish I can say I have been practising or I will practise better..I pray that passion resurfaces and burns again.. Thanks, ma!

  • Nwalutum Chisom Doreen

    I dont even think anyone can escape Writing, even as a Public relations officer writing is essential.
    I once had that mindset of shying away from Writing, but with some course we offered so far on writing, I found out how necessary it is for me in the field of JOURNALISM and Mass communication as a whole.
    More Grace to you Ma

  • Egenti jennifer

    I have always loved writing but I’m a very lazy person because I’ve always had this thought that ” don’t worry Jennifer, you’d write once you are getting paid to do so” now I understand it is not like that. I have to start learning now and improving on myself because as a future mass communicator it is very important. Thank you ma for this

  • Aṅulika Iwoba

    Thank you so much ma for taking the time to make this post.
    Writing is indeed central to every area of Mass Communication, and anyone who aspires to a successful career in communication and the media without as much attempting to write or even learn the rudiments of grammar and use of language, is well on his way to failure.
    The areas of Mass Communication which you highlighted the relevance of writing in were thorough and the tips given to improve one’s writing skills are proven strategies and very, very helpful.
    The importance of good writing can never really be over emphasised in communication, and so posts like this, will always be timely and valuable assets that inform and equip the students with the knowledge required to turn out decent and excellent written materials in the field.

  • This piece of work is quite useful, owing to the fact that most aspiring journalist don’t even know the areas they fit into. Is it full time journalism, broadcasting or advertising. We always find it hard to quite settle for one. But having been equipped with these fantastic and we’ll crafted work. Decision making is actually a once over. Thanks a lot ma!!!!!!

  • Nwosu Victoria Onyinye

    I need to get to work, probably get someone to go through my work and make corrections. Thank you ma

  • Nwankwo Chinonyelum Gladys

    Honestly, I’m one of those that thinks that Public relations is all about sitting in an air conditioned office and meeting important personalities, but my thinking has been corrected by this piece.Writing is one of the basic requirement in any aspect of mass communication,so I’ve got to improve more in my writing.This piece is really helpful.Thanks a lot ma

  • CHUKWU MICHAEL

    Writing is supposed to be enjoyed..it’s supposed to be an art worthy of being a embodiment in us..as a journalist who wants to thrive and be recognized in the art .he or she should embrace writing in full.. mastering the art of writing and being great at it in equipping, informing and entertaining the masses makes one worthy of being called a mass communicator in full..nice piece ma..

  • Opara Oluchi Dorathy

    Good writing requires reading good and helpful texts, practice, discipline, consistency and criticism. All these put together have been the challenge of the majority of students of mass communication. I hope this post will have us tighten our belts because the competition is very stiff out there. May God help us. Amen.

  • Chukwu Joy Chioma

    This lays adequate emphasis on the importance of writing and how inevitable it is in every aspect of mass communication.
    Can you please recommend an effective way to boost my writing skills?

  • Now I understand writing is important to every area of mass communication.

    How do I re trace my steps and develop a love for writing which isn’t even in me?

    Can I teach myself to write even if I feel is hard for me?

  • Abiayi Ifeonuchukwu

    Thank you so much ma for this post. Now I know that practically everything about mass communication entails writing and to be a good writer amongst other things,you have to be an avid reader of works of great writers . God bless you ma.

  • Ugochi

    Practice in writing is inescapable for those who will excel at it. As American writer, John Angus McPhee once stated, it’s impossible to become a writer without actually writing.

    Write! Write!! Write!! Till you become perfect.

    Reading good books is very helpful. Finding a good community of writers is also good.

    Thank you very much Ma.

  • Adebanjo Adenike Rebecca

    Wow!!! didn’t know Advertising involves one practising how to write too. That’s the area I’m speacializing in as a mass communication personnel. I’m yet to master the usage of the various punctuation marks which I believe is part of good writing too…the quote from McPhee is the energy I need now. Yhe more I practise writing, the more I will get to be better. Thank you, ma, for this.

  • This is really great ma. I have got the ways I can improve my writing skills.
    Thanks a lot ma, God bless you richly.

  • Chukwuemeka uchechukwu pepertua

    With this lecture I now know that writing is for everyone in the field of mass communication.
    Thank you ma’am! I find the tips to be helpful

  • Ekechukwu Francisca

    I understand that writing is fundamental in every field of Mass communication and as such, this skill should be acquired and developed.
    Very insightful indeed. Thank you Ma

  • Sambo Deborah Friday

    Wow, writing is really inevitable in the field of mass communication, in fact it entails all aspects of the field. I’m a kind of person that easily gets intimidated especially when it comes to writing, but I’m trying all my possible best to make sure I overcome that fear.

  • Adebanjo Adenike Rebecca

    Writing, have always thought is not a thing for advertising agencies because that is the area I’m speacializing. This write-up makes me understand that I need to work on writing in my area of specialization, also writing is pertinent to all branches of communication.

  • EMMANUEL AGBOWO

    This is the real fact, it’s the center for all other genres of mass communication

  • Dick- Unegbu Jennifer

    Thank you Ma, I have understood that, if one wishes to pursue any career pertaining to Mass Communication, one has to cover all the areas concerning the career, which includes writing.
    Ma, this certainly enlightened me to keep practicing until I become better in writing, so as to give my audience the satisfaction in reading my write-up.

  • Ndukwe Akwara

    I have this nonchalant attitude when it comes to writing but ma you made realize my mistake. I will make hay while the sun still shines. thanks

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