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Teachers: Literacy:

Last Updated: Wednesday December 14 2005 15:18 GMT

Quiz answers: The three Cs of reporting

Pen and notepad

1. Your editor tells you he only has space in the paper for a short story about a fox mistaken for a wallaby. That means you have to get all the facts what, who, where, when and why into just two sentences. Which of these will your editor prefer?

a) A 'wallaby' that had been spotted hopping around Cardiff was in fact just an injured fox. The first person to report seeing the fox on Thursday thought it was a kangaroo or a wallaby, because it had hurt its leg, causing it to hop.

Answer: Correct
More info: These two sentences answer the key questions what, who, where, where and why.

b) On Thursday, a 'wallaby' was spotted hopping around Cardiff. But it turned out to be a fox with an injured leg.

Answer: Wrong
More info: The top two sentences should answer the key questions what, who, where, where and why. But your readers don't fully know why it was mistaken for a wallaby. Also, starting with On Thursday is not likely to make your readers finish the story. When is far less important than what, so it should come further down the story.

c) Wallabies are usually found in Australia, not Wales, so when one was spotted in Cardiff the residents didn't know what to make of it. But the mysterious animal turned out to be a fox that was hopping because it hurt it's leg.

Answer: Wrong
More info: The top two sentences should answer the key questions what, who, where, where and why. But your readers don't know when the fox was spotted. Also, the sentences are a bit too long for a newspaper article. However, this would be a good way to start a magazine article.


2. When you are writing for children it is important to make your report easy to understand. You can do this by making your sentences short and simple. How would you write about this thrilled Manchester United fan?

a) A Manchester United fan celebrated his team's win by covering himself from top to toe in paint which was red in colour.

Answer: Wrong
More info: This sentence can be written in a simpler way. Have another go. I'm sure you can shorten covering himself in paint and red in colour. Can you think of a simpler way to phrase these?

b) A Manchester United fan celebrated his team's win by covering himself from top to toe in red paint.

Answer: Wrong
More info: You have shortened red in colour to red, which is a good start but there is an even simpler way of writing this sentence. Have another go. I'm sure you can shorten covering himself in paint. Can you think of a simpler way to phrase these?

c) A Manchester United fan celebrated his team's win by painting himself red from top to toe.

Answer: Correct
More info: Well done. You have shortened covering himself in paint, to painting and red in colour to red. This is a much simpler way of writing these phrases. Your readers appreciate your effort to make it easy to understand.


3. Accuracy is very important. This means you have to choose individual words with great care. The wrong word could even land you in trouble with the law. Which of these sentences would you use to describe this bus crash?

a) Three passengers were seriously injured when their bus hit a tree

Answer: Correct
More info: The passengers were injured at the same time as the crash so the best word to use is when.

b) Three passengers were seriously injured after their bus hit a tree.

Answer: Wrong
More info: The passengers were injured at the same time as the crash not after it.

c) Three passengers were seriously injured because the bus driver hit a tree

Answer: Wrong
More info: It is a journalist's job to report on the facts, not to blame anyone. Because makes the accident look like the bus driver's fault. But is up to an accident investigator, a judge or jury to decide who is to blame. You could get into trouble with the law if you use words which suggest someone is at fault.


4. Journalists have to show they get their information from reliable sources. Otherwise who will believe what they write? Which of these sentences would you use?

a) A man from Yorkshire holds the record for the largest number of pegs on his face.

Answer: Wrong
More info: Without a mention of a reliable source, your readers have no way of knowing whether the record is real or not.

b) A man from Yorkshire made it into the Guinness Book of Records for clipping the largest number of clothes pegs on his face.

Answer: Correct
More info: This tells you the record is genuine because it is in the Guinness Book of Records.

c) A Yorkshireman has clipped a record-breaking number of pegs onto his face.

Answer: Wrong
More info: Without a mention of a reliable source, your readers have no way of knowing whether the record is real or not.


5. When you are writing down what people say it is important to use quotations. You have started a story about a new Blue Peter presenter. So far you have written:

Zoe Salmon has leapt into her new role as the 30th person to become a presenter on TV show Blue Peter. The 24-year-old will take over from current presenter Liz Barker while she has a baby, and then will stay on the team when Liz comes back.

Now you want to add a quote but how to you let your readers know Zoe is speaking?

a) "I'm so excited and I'm really looking forward to all the mad stuff I know they throw at you on Blue Peter," said Zoe.

Answer: Wrong
More info: The speech marks are in the correct place but the reader doesn't know who is speaking until the end of the quote. Readers might initially think Liz is speaking .

b) Zoe said: "I'm so excited and I'm really looking forward to all the mad stuff I know they throw at you on Blue Peter."

Answer: Correct
More info: The words Zoe uses have speech marks round them. There is a colon : after the word said and the reader knows who is speaking before they read the quotation.

c) "I'm so excited," said Zoe, "And I'm really looking forward to all the mad stuff I know they throw at you on Blue Peter."

Answer: Wrong
More info: The speech marks are in the correct place. However, this kind of quotation, which is broken in the middle, is the kind you would find in a novel rather than a newspaper. In journalism it is better to keep the parts of a quotation together.


6. Avoid stating the obvious your readers don't want to be told what they already know. Which of these sentences should you use?

a) With sirens blaring, fire engines rushed to put out the blaze.

Answer: Wrong
More info: It is obvious that crews will rush to put out the fire with their sirens on. You are not telling your readers anything they don't already know.

b) Fire engines raced to put out the blaze.

Answer: Wrong
More info: It is obvious that crews will race to put out the fire. You are not telling your readers anything they don't already know.

c) Fire crews were at the scene of the blaze within minutes.

Answer: Correct
More info: You are telling your readers the facts without stating the obvious.


7. People use words in different situations. In a children's newspaper you wouldn't use technical sounding words or jargon. It is better to use words you put in a letter about the story to a friend. Which of these sentences would you choose?

a) The man died from his injuries.

Answer: Correct
More info: Died is a word you would use in a letter to a friend. It is unlikely you would use sustained and fatal your letter.

b) The man sustained fatal injuries.

Answer: Wrong
More info: It is unlikely you would use sustained and fatal if you were writing about the story for a friend.

c) The man sustained terminal injuries.

Answer: Wrong
More info: It is unlikely you would use sustained and terminal if you were writing about the story for a friend.


8. Some words look very similar and are often confused like affect and effect. Here's a good way to remember this: The e in result stands for effect and the a in make a difference stands for affect. Which of these sentences is correct?

a) Many children are affected by allergies which can have a negative effect on their health.

Answer: Correct
More info: Affect means to make a difference to. Effect means to bring about a result. So the correct answer is that some allergies make a difference to (affect) children with the result (effect) that their health is made worse.

b) Many children are effected by allergies which can have a negative affect on their health.

Answer: Wrong
More info: Affect means to make a difference to. Effect means to bring about a result. So the correct answer is that some allergies make a difference to (affect) children with the result (effect) that their health is made worse.

c) Many children are affected by allergies which can have a negative affect on their health.

Answer: Wrong
More info: Affect means to make a difference to. Effect means to bring about a result. So the correct answer is that some allergies make a difference to (affect) children with the result (effect) that their health is made worse.


9. It is important to spell correctly. Spellings of some words have different meanings like curb and kerb. Which of these sentences is correct?

a) Buses which lower themselves to the curb at bus stops have been designed to kerb the number of accidents involving wheelchair users and young children in push chairs.

Answer: Wrong
More info: Kerb is the edge if a pavement and to curb the number of accidents means to stop them from increasing. The words are the wrong way round in this sentence.

b) Buses which lower themselves to the kerb at bus stops have been designed to curb the number of accidents involving wheelchair users and young children in push chairs.

Answer: Correct
More info: Kerb is the edge if a pavement and to curb the number of accidents means to stop them from increasing.

c) Buses which lower themselves to the kurb at bus stops have been designed to cerb the number of accidents involving wheelchair users and young children in push chairs.

Answer: Wrong
More info: Kerb is the edge if a pavement and to curb the number of accidents means to stop them from increasing. Both words are spelt incorrectly in this sentence.


10. It is important to follow the rules of the language you are using. In the English language, people are responsible for what happens but things aren't. Which of these sentences would you use?

a) A fire killed a teenager in Newcastle.

Answer: Wrong
More info: People are responsible for events, things are not.

b) A teenager from Newcastle was killed by a fire.

Answer: Wrong
More info: People are responsible for events, things are not.

c) A teenager died in a fire in Newcastle.

Answer: Correct
More info: People are responsible for events, things are not. This sentence does not suggest the fire, a thing, is responsible.



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