Sunday, July 29, 2012

Write More Good by The Bureau Chiefs

Being snarky and sarcastic is one of the great joys of life -- well, if you ask me, it is -- and "The Bureau Chiefs," a ragtag band of reporters, editors, and others, revel in that joy on a daily basis on Twitter as @FakeAPStylebook and at (which looks to have had a huge flurry of activity in mid-2010, but to have settled down some since then). Since every popular Twitter feed must spawn a book (as websites did before them, and standup comedy routines before them, and so on back to early radio), those Bureau Chiefs came together to create Write More Good, a guide to writing for newspapers (or whatever we're going to call the folks who bring us news stories in the form of text) that is deeply, deeply sarcastic and whose advice should only be followed by those who are unconcerned with the consequences.

Write More Good is structured like a real style guide, giving tips on writing about celebrities, politics, sex, science, technology, sports, and other topics. As a real style guide would, it also has notes on usage, glossaries of important terms, and other stylistic points of deep importance to reporting news. It also has great standalone rules like this one:
"World War" should be used for conflicts involving countries on at least three continents. For large-scale battles against clones, killer tomatoes, or a fifty-foot woman, use "attack" instead.
Let me make this simple for you. If you write news, you need this book (to laugh at what your job has become). If you read news, you need this book (so you know what's going on, the better to laugh at it). If you are news, you definitely need this book. It's funny in the same way that Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary is funny: it holds up what we should do in front of what we actually do, and lets us laugh at the difference. It's actually more serious and pointed than you'd expect for a book of joke style tips based on a Twitter feed, but don't let that frighten you off: this is exactly the book you need to understand the news today.

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