Sunday, June 20, 2010

DWI = Dense With Information

Bonus: Which headline is DWI (Dense With Information)?

Nobel Peace Prize
goes to dissident,
angering Chinese

Peace Prize goes
to jailed dissident,
angering Chinese

Nobel committee
awards Peace Prize
to Chinese dissident

 Here is a version of an example of what I mean by DWI from my headline lecture:

Heds tell the story best when they are:

  • Clear
  • Specific
  • Precise
  • And are DWI = Dense with information
For example:
Original Hed =
Teenager found not guilty in killing, rape of UCLA college student

This hed has padding to fill out the line:
You don't need the word "college" - goes without saying
And you can replace three words - "found not guilty" - with one word - "acquitted"

Here are some keywords I listed before rewriting headline: teenager / acquitted / killing / rape / student / college student / of UCLA student / second trial burglary

So, a hed more DWI would be =
Second trial acquits teenager in UCLA student’s killing, rape

Second trial adds more information - that this is the second time this guy has been tried for killing and rape

You can apply this thinking to cutlines, blurbs, even the text of your story. This is an especially important skill to develop in writing good SEO headlines.

It is all about being precise and concise without being obscure.

French poodle rule

The French poodle rule is fairly straightforward.
is a proper noun and therefore is capitalized. But poodle is a common noun. There is no province called

Here are violations of rule:
Toxic Cane toads are killing alarming numbers of Australia's freshwater crocodiles as the alien pests hop inexorably across the continent, research showed Tuesday.

The scouts had planned to plant 100 Douglas Fur seedlings and another 50 Western White Pines

Fisherman off the coast of Antarctica landed a rare Colossal Squid, a species that was first identified in 1925.
Williams claimed he has requested permission to train cadaver-finding Bloodhounds at the site.
Like raccoons with picnic coolers or urban coyotes with pet cats, west Florida's Bottlenose Dolphins are learning that proximity to humans can make for easy meals.

Metrics in Stories - AP's Guideline

metric system For U.S. members, use metric terms only in situations where they are universally accepted forms of measurement (16 mm film) or where the metric distance is an important number in itself: He vowed to walk 100 kilometers (62 miles) in a week.

Normally, the equivalent should be in parentheses after the metric figure. A general statement, however, such as A kilometer equals about five-eighths of a mile, would be acceptable to avoid repeated use of parenthetical equivalents in a story that uses kilometers many times.
To avoid the need for long strings of figures, prefixes are added to the metric units to denote fractional elements or large multiples. The prefixes are: pico- (one-trillionth), nano- (one-billionth), micro- (one-millionth), milli- (one-thousandth), centi- (one-hundredth), deci- (one-tenth), deka- (10 units), hecto- (100 units), kilo- (1,000 units), mega- (1 million units), giga- (1 billion units), tera- (1 trillion units). Entries for each prefix show how to convert a unit preceded by the prefix to the basic unit.
In addition, separate entries for gram, meter, liter, Celsius and other frequently used metric units define them and give examples of how to convert them to equivalents in the terminology that has been used in the United States.
Similarly, entries for pound, inch, quart, Fahrenheit, etc., contain examples of how to convert these terms to metric forms.
ABBREVIATIONS: The abbreviation mm for millimeter is acceptable in references to film widths (8 mm film) and weapons (a 105 mm cannon). (Note space between numeral and abbreviation.)
The principal abbreviations, for reference in the event they are used by a source, are: g (gram), kg (kilogram), t (metric ton), m (meter), cm (centimeter), km (kilometer), mm (millimeter), L (liter, capital L to avoid confusion with the figure 1) and mL (milliliter).