When Gannett began publishing USA Today in 1982, journalism pundits roundly ridiculed the five-day-a-week paper for its “McJournalism” style: short, punchy articles as lean as editors could make them. Today, in the Internet Age, that style almost seems long-winded, at least compared to 140-character-or-less tweets.
USA Today founder Al Neuharth’s Plain Talk of March 25, 2011, discussed how he writes his weekly column, which is never more than 300 words.
“When I do the first draft,” Neuharth wrote, “it sometimes runs 500 words or more. That’s easy. Trimming it down is difficult. That sometimes takes me two or three hours.
“Getting things short and to the point us the most important thing we should keep in mind in our personal or professional lives. In writing or speaking. From grade school to high school to college to our job.
“Long-winded stuff loses the attention of listeners., readers, viewers, friends, even family. That’s true in one-on-one discussions, group gatherings or the mass media.”
That’s great advice. But when you don’t have the time to polish writing yourself, find yourself a good editor.