Books -- Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method by Carole Rich

Article excerpt

Rich, Carole (1994). Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Company. 608 pp. $28 (Price to bookstores).

A quick skim of the subtitles in Rich's new text may give pause to grumpy veterans who teach newswriting the old-fashioned way. There is something uncomfortably trendy about terms like "empowerment box," "mapping," "role-playing," "curiosity training," and "match-making."

Well, read on. In the crowded field of basic texts, Writing and Reporting News offers a fresh approach that's both interesting and fully grounded in the practical. Rich's own solid newspaper background makes itself felt on every page.

What distinguishes this book is its rootedness in the writing-coach movement as taught at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Throughout the text, Rich casts herself more in the role of coach than pedant. And like Poynter coaches Roy Peter Clark and Don Fry, she asks students to visualize reporting and writing as a systematic, step-by-step process.

Along the way she sprinkles in numerous techniques of coaching and self-coaching: mental games, exercises, brainstorming and other use of imagination to enhance skills and gain confidence.

Fine, but what about those plain old practical, how-to rules and guidelines so indispensable for raw beginners? …