You don’t get clicks without good words


Be passionate about words… they’re as important online as they are on paper

It was inspiring to hear Sun editor Tony Gallagher talk so passionately about the job.

Describing his paper’s ethos, he said: “We want to take no prisoners every day, no friends, no fear or favour.”

But I was most taken by his thoughts about the perception some journalists had about their role.

He said they see themselves as part of a profession or academic discipline.

“I think that’s wrong. It’s a trade and you learn it by practising it,” he said.

He went on to bemoan the trend for the industry to recruit people with degrees and post-graduate qualifications, and that the route for eager 18-year-olds into newspapers appeared to have been cut off.

His comments reminded me of my stint working shifts for the Scottish Sun in Glasgow.

I was deeply impressed by the subs there, in particular a couple of lads who were not much older than me but vastly more able.

They were the type Tony Gallagher might have had in his mind when he was outlining his thoughts on the industry.

They could have had degrees, but I doubt it. They struck me more as craftsmen, intensely serious about their trade.

Both spent ages polishing their work until it achieved that unique Sun blend of wit and assertive brevity.

“It’s all about the words. The words are everything,” I remember one of them saying.

He was so right. Not even the internet (which came along much later) has changed that.

Only through a mastery of the language can a journalist conjure that magical link between the words on a page or screen and a spark of emotion or curiosity in someone’s mind that makes them want to read on… or click on a link.

Even in an industry moving from page to screen, it is a craft that should be cherished.

Read my earlier post about the craft of headline writing.





About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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