A good book, who can find? 

Title: Write that Story: A Guide for Writers and Editors

Author: Otieno Amisi

Publisher: wordpress

Available at: www.writethatstory.wordpress.com

Good books on journalism are hard to find in Kenya. Good books on writing are even harder to find. But the demand for good writing is always overwhelming. Many publishing houses are choking with poorly written and badly edited manuscripts because few people go to writing school, and fewer schools provide high quality writing skills.

It is against this background that Otieno Amisi, a teacher and journalist, has come up with Write that Story: A Guide for Writers and Editors. This book, which is still in electronic form,  will be of immense value for those involved in communication as creative writers, press officers or public relations workers.

Kenyan newspapers, though reputed to be among the most vibrant in Africa, are full of editorial gafes and glaring mistakes. Writers on training soon realise that there are no books on writing by Kenyan or East Africans, and they have to make do with foreign books, which are often irrelevant, outdated and lack the needed touch with local situations. Even celebrated and well educated people need help to write their biographies.

This e-book is specifically tailored to the needs of Kenyan and East African journalists and creative writers. It contains practical exercises on writing, editing and other aspects that will make anyone a good writer.

There is a huge, hungry market in the mushrooming schools and colleges offering journalism and media studies. Experience with professional writers, from rural-based correspondents, communication officers and editors indicates that though there are many good writers out there, they can all be made much better. The same applies to many managers whose job involves communicating to target markets through the printed word.
Save for the occasional scholarship winner, very few up-country based journalists in the third world ever have a chance to improve their skills. This is due to initial bad training or lack of it, and poor mastery of the skills of good writing. Besides, many of them are simply too overwhelmed by the rigorous demands of news journalism.
Modern journalistic practice is overwhelming. Today’s journalist is expected to be a master of all disciplines and technological wizardry. From a comprehensive knowledge of computers and photography to a grasp of the environmental effects of a new factory, to the motive behind a recent murder or a stalled corruption case, the average journalist in the 21st century is more than just a correspondent.
He is typically in charge of a wide area, usually a district or small town, and his area of coverage is even wider because he meets, on a daily basis, issues ranging from environment, economics, and sports, to culture, business, education politics, and so on. He is also expected to write the occasional political analysis, or travel or feature story.
While technology has greatly changed the way journalists work, it is becoming important that journalists be much more than ‘correspondents’ as we were a few years ago.  This book challenges writers to be different and better writer. It wants writers to become development journalist, activists and a change agents in their communities.
Realising the need for a style book for editors, the author has also tried to come up with a book that will act as a standardized guide which clarifies the use of language in everyday journalism for writers and non journalists alike.   Write that Story  is the product of extensive research and experience in the practice of journalism in
Kenya over the last fifteen years. Though it is written for writers and editors who are already established in media houses in Kenya, it will also be helpful for writers and editors of books and students of journalism and writing in general not only in
Africa, but also abroad. For journalists and researchers, it gives a peep into the working of the media in a developing country.
 The book begins with adaptations from two writers, Fr. Renato Kizito and Ndirangu Wachanga. The essays, initially published in The Sunday Nation, give a broad overview of some challenges of being a journalist  and an editor.
The author then sets out to examine old and emerging trends in journalism like development journalism, the internet, governance and correspondence journalism.

Some of the most important chapters for journalism trainees are where Amisi outlines the 17 time-tested principles of good journalism and looks at some challenges of media practice in Kenya. Ethics and the law are also elaborated upon in considerable detail.

“Getting the right story” and “Getting the story right’ looks at special assignments, investigation and research skills, sources, and outlines some story ideas. In these chapters,  the author provides hints and leads and shows young writers how to take a stand, set goals, create appeal, watch for sensitivity and get evidence.
The book takes a critical look at editing, and provides practical decision-making skills that editors need. It defines managing editing, copyediting and self editing. It also examines hierarchy among editors and outlines characteristics of an editor.

The rest of the book is about how writers can make their stories clearer, simpler and briefer.
The author, a Kenyan writer, poet, teacher and journalist is currently working as a Revise Editor with Oakland Media Services. He founded New Age, a respected but short-lived literary journal (1990-1993) soon after graduating in Education and Literature in English from
Kenyatta University. Since then, Amisi’s works of journalism and poetry have appeared in various local and international publications.  

Amisi is inviting publishing offers and comments on otienoamisi@yahoo.com  You can also see his blog: otienoamisi.wordpress.com

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