If you are a journalist, you must be able to write. This is an assumption made by many. They couldn’t be more wrong.

In my 35 years as an editor, I have come across writing that is so bad that you would not believe it came from reporters whose job it is to write. From basic typos such as accommodation with either a “c” or “m” missing to funny errors such as “waist” instead of “waste” and glaring grammatical mistakes — I have seen them all.

Even senior reporters are guilty of writing that can never see the light of day without an editor having worked on it. One positive for editors is that they will all have a job as long as reporters write badly.

How can you avoid becoming an oxymoron, the reporter or writer who can’t write? First all, take pride in your work.

In today’s world, there is really no reason for spelling errors and typos. Every writing software comes with a spell check option. Just use that. Make it a habit never to send out anything without running a spell check.

Second, go back to school as far as grammar is concerned. Brush up on your tenses and conjugation. It might seem as boring as it did when you were at school, but it is really time well spent if you want to be a good writer. As with spell check, there is often a grammar tool that you can use. Do use it.

Third, make reading a habit. The more you read, the better you will write. Of course, the books need to have been written well in the first place for you to gain from reading it. The classics have stood the test of time. Go back to them.

Stanford professors have come up with a reading list for the summer that comprises just five books. This is short enough for anyone to manage, irrespective of time pressures. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/03/summer-reading-Stanford-business-professors-says-these-books-will-boost-value-and-success-in-life.html 

Finally, write as though you were writing for someone who knows little about the subject. Don’t explain everything, but make everything clear. That is the hallmark of a good writer or reporter. Write in short sentences and you have a winner on your hands.