If this face looks familiar – the pearly whites inside that soft smile – it’s probably because you read the Windsor Star newspaper (print or online – doesn’t matter, he’s there!) . Ted Shaw is an Arts & Entertainment writer for The Windsor Star. He’s has been a journalist since 1975. Although it was never a ‘dream’ to write for a newspaper, Shaw was inspired by former Toronto Star journalists, whilst he attended Sheridan College, to write in this genre. Previous to his studies at Sheridan College, Shaw received his B.A. at the University of Toronto. He wrote reviews for the U of T student newspaper, The Varsity. Shaw’s freelance article have been published several newspapers and journals as well as in the Windsor Star.
I invited Ted to answer the following question:
What is the difference, in terms of writing process, between your journalism writing life and your personal writing life?
It depends what kind of journalism you’re talking about. I do reviews, features, the odd narrative, and straight news stories.
Recently, I wrote a first-person story about my struggles with diabetes, and I enjoyed the freedom of writing without any restrictions in terms of personal opinion.
It’s much the same writing a review of, say, a concert at Caesars or the Windsor Symphony. There, my experience comes into play and I’m actually concerned with making the review double as a news account of the concert rather than just my opinion of the quality.
When I’m writing for pleasure, I tend to focus much more closely on the rhythm of the writing. I read what I write aloud to myself, and if it doesn’t flow exactly right, I work on it until it does.
Rhythm is something I try to inject into my newspaper writing, too, and I even strive to give each article closure by writing a final paragraph or line that tells the reader it’s the end. A punchline, if you will.
It’s not something every feature writer does, especially in newspapers where the inverted-V is applied — you aim to get the pertinent information at the top and least pertinent towards the bottom so an editor can feel free to cut the story to fit a hole. I’m allowed more freedom when it comes to that because I write mostly features.
Newspaper writing is becoming more formulaic with the development of digital technology. Articles are shorter and dryer, almost sound bytes.
Thank you, Ted!
If you’d like to read more of Ted’s writing, please click here.