How to write like a Journalist

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Last year, I chatted to Melissa Javan about Writing Tips for your Business, Blog and Nonprofit for #sabizchat. Since we have ported over to #Phambano, I wanted to re-share her article here for you all to enjoy 🙂 

Who is Melissa?

Melissa Javan is a journalist living in Johannesburg. She started her career in media in July 2008. Javan has worked for various publications, which include Die Burger in Cape Town, The Cape Flats News, and Die Son in Port Elizabeth. She is currently working for Avatar Agency in Johannesburg, writing stories for Brand South Africa.

What does she offer?

She is a writer and good at pitching great content for any campaign or target market. Melissa is also a blogger and creator of Mel’s Postbox. She enjoys writing about anything relating to entrepreneurship, science and technology. Melissa also enjoys teaching what she has learned about her industry.

How to Write like a Journalist – A step by step guide

  • Who is your target market (reader)?

Identify your reader (target market) – what do this person look like? What is his/ her age, gender, interests, needs. This is important for your pitch.

  • Who or what are your sources?

Sources can be industry related contacts. Sources are also where you look for information/ possible stories. This information are for instance found at a Facebook group like Public Servant News Port Elizabeth (any community based group), radio or newspapers, the internet (reputable sites), press releases, and conversations with people.

  • What and how do you pitch?

Pitch: This is the idea/ possible story that you are going to sell to your target market and/ or your editor. You make use of the five Ws and H to pitch your story idea [5Ws & H – who, what, where, why, when, and how]

Think about what part is interesting to the reader and focus on that. Think: what would I tell my best friend or grandma first?

  • Taking action

Do some Research, plan some questions and do interviews or go out on your story

Let’s say you are going to an industry related event, do some research first and/ or ask the organisers for some information before the event. So, on the day of the event, you can use the information to do some live tweets.

  • What to write & checking the facts

This is where you start writing your story, based on the information you have. Write your story beginning with the most interesting part. Ask yourself what would you tell your friend or grandma first? Check facts, spelling and grammar. Ask a sub-editor or even a friend can read through your story for errors.

  • If you need more information, go back to your sources or look for experts for more information.
  • In the beginning at every job, one struggles to get into the groove of things. As a journalist I also struggle to write when it is for a new audience. I get better, because I learn to understand my audience better. So if you feel like you are struggling to write – just continue writing.
  • Another tip: After writing your story or blog post, take a break from it. Come back and read it again. I reread my story after publishing it too.

Some more resources for small business people by Melissa Javan:


7 Steps to use Twitter at a live event + Why you should live tweet 

Using challenges to your advantage

3 Things I learned from entrepreneurs

Connect with Melissa directly:



Author: Sam Posselt

Keynote Speaker | Google for Nonprofits Trainer | Marketing and Training Manager for Phambano Technology Development Centre. I post about Blogging, Business, Philanthropy, Space and Reality TV. In-love with Twitter!

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