Dear Wei Ling Chua,
I am writing this note to you out of courtesy as you are a graduate of the Morris Journalism Academy.
However, if you cannot comprehend what I have advised you in great detail previously, I suspect your efforts to become a freelance writer will be futile.
The International News Syndicate does not enter into discussion about why some articles are declined and/or unsuitable for syndication. Can you not understand this? There is no newspaper, magazine or syndication service that is prepared to go into lengthy explanations for their decisions. You have also been sent lengthy details on what is the best material for syndication purposes. Please re-read it.
The INS website is going through an upgrade. In the meantime we offer by e-mail, suitable material to publications that we believe might be interested in purchasing.
Your articles are comment pieces. Some of this includes political comment. I don’t believe you have quoted anyone in any of your copy.
INS does not send stories to editors unless we believe the editors will be interested in purchasing. This is our decision and our decision alone. You can send your stories to whoever you wish but we will not send them as this implies our recommendation.
Your article is also about 2300 words, far too many for most publications.
PS. Your log-in name for the INS website, when it is up and running, is “student”.
Understand China – Human Rights – A Progressive Process
Every country has its own unique history, ethnic, social, cultural and foreign relations, economics and political conditions. Therefore, the pace of its social and political development varies. This paragraph is comment. Whether the comment is correct or incorrect is immaterial. It’s still comment. It’s still your opinion. Readers are not interested in your opinion.
Since the British Colonisation of Australia in 1788, it is widely believed by historians that - through the combination of disease, loss of land and direct violence, the indigenous population had reduced by up to 80% by 1900. It was only until (“until” or do you mean “in”?)1962 whereby (“whereby” or do you mean “when”?) the Commonwealth legislation specifically gave the Aborigines the right to vote in Commonwealth elections. And only after the 1967 referendum, the Aboriginal population were regarded as human beings and included in the population census. (Regarded as being “human beings” by whom? Do you mean all Australians felt this way or all of them? Or, do you mean the Federal Government?)
As a rich country in the 21st century, (who says it was a “rich country? You?)What has this got to do with lifespan anyway?) the health data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2002 indicated that, the average live spans (span/singular) of the Indigenous (“indigenous” is not capitalised) population is still 17 years below the Australian National average. You are apparently using data from 2002. This is now seven years old. Nobody is interested; there are new statistics on indigenous lifespan.
As for the issue of the Stolen Generation, only until 13 February 2008 whereby the long awaited official public apology to members of the Stolen Generation been given by a Prime Minister (Mr. Kevin Rudd), but, this was without any financial compensation to the individual’s victims. (This paragraph makes no sense)
The above Human Rights History (grammar/spelling) of Australia is just a classic example of Human Rights Record of most Western Countries such as USA, Canada, UK and New Zealand. (Comment. Political comment, actually. Your political comment).
If the current ethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq is of any implication after the US lead coalition invasion 6 years ago (2003), we should not be too simplistic in our approach (comment) when criticising other nations on human right issues - Saddam Hussein’s biggest mistake were (was?) to attack Iran, and then invaded Kuwait.
His method of administering Iraq may not be the most humane one but at least it managed to pull the country together with all ethnic groups living side by side without the current daily bloodshed and suffering. (silly comment, what about the Kurdish population for one?) There were certainly room for improvement in the way Saddam ruled his people and how to make improvement is another issue. (comment) Economic sanction and invasion has definitely resulted in more humanitarian hardship for the Iraqi people and the families of the invasion forces. (comment)
China is a nation with 56 ethnic groups. The history is complex. There were times when the majority Han Chinese were rulers; there were also times when the minorities were rulers. For example, in the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD) the Mongolian Chinese ruled China for 97 years, and in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD) the Manchurian Chinese ruled China for 267 years. The facts remain - regardless of who ruled China - the majority Han Chinese or the minorities Chinese of Mongolian, Manchurian or some other smaller groups such as the Xianbei Chinese in Northern Wei Dynasty (běi wèi) (386 - 534 AD) - there were tons of examples (tons of examples?) of capable individuals from other ethnic groups been(grammar/spelling) entrusted by the emporer (grammar/spelling) to run the daily affair (grammar/spelling) of the country. The most famous example, according to the author of ‘1421 The Year China Discovered The World’- Gavin Menzies, General Zheng He who ‘commanded several tens of thousands of government soldiers and more than a hundreds oceangoing vessels’ was a minority Muslim Chinese in the Ming Dynasty.
In Today’s(grammar/spelling) modern China, all 56 ethnic groups have been living together in harmony except some small group of separatists from the regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. (comment) Both separatist groups have its (grammar/spelling) foreign backer. For example, Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison in their 2002 publication -‘The CIA’s secret war in Tibet’- spelled out in details (grammar/spelling) with the support of the American Government (grammar) declassified documents demonstrated that the Tibet separatist movement was financed, armed, trained and backed by the CIA. As for the Xinjiang Uyghur separatist groups close (grammar) to Pakistan, they were regarded both by China and USA as terrorist groups link to al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.
In fact, the Tibet problem was first created by the British invasion in 1903. (comment) The British Government through its Foreign Secretary David Miliband had (has?) for the first time recently (November 2008) officially recognises (grammar/spelling) China's direct rule over Tibet and acknowledged that what the British Government did in Tibet a century ago was a historical mistake, using his own word, it is an "anachronism".
59 years ago, when the Communist Party came to power (1949), China was a country in total ruin after century (grammar/spelling) of foreign invasion. (comment) One needed just to visit some of the famous National Museum (grammar/spelling) in Europe, USA and Japan on the China section, finding out how those Chinese ancient artefacts landed in those museums, and you will realise what kind of humanitarian crime had been committed in China by those countries between the period of a few decades and a century ago. (your comment)
When the then corrupted Ruling Party in China - Kuomintang (comment) (currently ruling party in Taiwan) lost the internal war to the communist party, they emptied the National treasury and withdrew to Taiwan. In fact, they brought with them over 650,000 pieces of ancient artefacts from the mainland including from the Imperial Palace in Beijing and displayed them in the now National Palace Museum in Taipei (Note: the Chinese name of the National Palace Museum in Taipei is named after the Imperial Palace in Beijing).
Facing a nation in anarchy with deep and widespread poverty, hostile international environment such as the Cold War and the on-going economic sanction by the West, and all kind of sabotage activities by foreign forces such as the Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcast, (grammar/spelling) ‘CIA secret war in Tibet’, and the ‘faceless’ Kuomintang loyalists still remain in the mainland of China. (Preceding sentence does not make sense. It’s too long and it contains comment) The communist party lead by Mao Zedong (son of a farmer) without any experience in running a country made a number of severe mistakes resulted (grammar/spelling) in catastrophic humanitarian disasters such as the Great Leap Forward Campaign and the Culture Revolution.
However, since then, successive leaderships within the communist party had (have?) made numerous significant and dramatic changes and improvements(comment) to the party as well as the nation’s system of government and accountability. For example, the term of the national leadership such as the President is limited to a maximum of 2 terms (10 years) - This is to prevent dictatorship. Professor Liu Ji, Executive President of China Europe International Business School observed in one of his speeches that: ‘Direct elections at village level have been introduced comprehensively throughout the nation, and are being partially or experimentally conducted at town or county level, and even at provincial level’. Increasingly over the past 3 decades, it is undeniable (comment) that China has introduced numerous new laws and legislations, and is moving towards the concept of the rule of law.
China is a country with 1.3 billion people (65 times the size of Australia(grammar/spelling) population) and an area of 9.6 million square km. There are enormous amounts of problems to overcome - Political stability and economic development to feed, clothe and shelter the population and to raise their standard of living have always been the core priority policy of the leadership in Beijing. (comment and nonsense as well)
Anybody who has visited China over the last few years will no doubt be impressed by many of its achievements. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – UNDP Human Development Report 2003 – China had decreased the proportion of people living in poverty from 33% to 18% between the period 1990 and 1999. That is, lifting 150 million people out of poverty. The Phoenix News in Hong Kong has recently reported that over the last 30 years of China economic reform, more than 300 million people have being lifted out of poverty. (You fail to mention weekly executions, corruption, unemployment, forced resettlement of hundreds of thousands, etc)
The American base Pew Research Center in it 2008 Pew Global Attitudes survey indicated that 86% of Chinese were satisfied with the way things are going in their country and with their nation’s economy, whereas the next highest country, Australia at 61%.
Despite such dramatic humanitarian achievement within 59 years of Nation’s (grammar/spelling) building from dire poverty. China is still a country far from perfect. Premier Wen Jiabao had announced on 30th July 2008 a decision to extend free education to include it (grammar/spelling) urban areas students, and subsidise (grammar/spelling) of textbooks for lower income families, and student accommodation for families with financial difficulties. The new policy to invest in infrastructure inland, and the encouragement of businesses moving their investment west-In (grammar/spelling) are just a series of on-going efforts to lift the living standard of the whole population.
In 1993, when I helped a couple Mr and Mrs. Chen whom I met in Hungary in 1991 to apply for some kind of documents through the Chinese Embassy in Hungary in order for them to apply for permanent residency in Canada (after they left Hungary), I went to the Embassy 3 times and queuing up 4 times and gone nowhere. (Poorly written, doesn’t make sense) I then lodged a written complaint to the Ambassador about my bad experience with their bureaucratic style of administration, and also complaint about the lack of photocopying facilities within the department to service its citizens. I told him in my letter that, as a foreigner I was doing more to help his fellow citizens then his officers in the Embassy. I received a phone call from the Ambassador (grammar/spelling) Assistant the following day to meet him up at the embassy. After a brief chat, I was told to pick up those documents at the department the following day. When I arrived to pick up the documents, I heard from the embassy staff conversation that ‘He is the man who brought about moving the photocopying machine from the Ambassador office to the department.’ By the way, the photocopying machine looked really old.(It is (it “is” or it “was”?) an indication of the lack of fund in the embassy.
This incident demonstrated that the economy of a country and the standard of living of its people do affect the way people treat each other. (comment) Like many 3rd world countries, China is transforming itself rapidly and positively. The leaders are there to listen and make improvements all the time. (comment, based of one personal experience)
The recent Earthquake in Sichuan (12th May 2008) demonstrated that China’s government and army are more caring for its people than the wealthy United State President and its army during the Katrina Disaster in New Orleans (2005). (broad, unfair comment)
Critics of China should draw a chart and objectively listed down(grammar/spelling) in detail their own human rights record vs. each stage of their economic development over the last 200 years of their nation’s building. Then, objectively compare those facts with the human rights record and achievement of China in its 59 years of nation’s building (grammar/spelling) (given its dire conditions and hostile International Environment surrounding them).
I believe that, this is the only way we could come out with any meaningful discussion and suggestion (comment) to improve the Human Rights (grammar/spelling) problem across the world including our own. A genuine Human Rights Believer (grammar/spelling) should act in good faith by suggesting positive solutions in a holistic, impartial and non-discriminatory way across the world.
For the sake of humanity, let us get into (grammar/spelling) the root of Human Rights Issues and find a solution for the world instead of indulgence in mere partial criticism of some selected countries. (comment)
Here is some final information for you to absorb . . .
Writing comment – avoid this at all cost!
Beginning writers frequently want to write the “comment piece”.
A comment piece is one where you give your opinion. The cardinal sin of freelance journalism is to give your opinion, unless asked for it. Readers aren’t usually interested in your onion. They prefer to draw their own conclusions from what you have written. The comment piece most certainly has its place. But, this is mainly in columns or editorials and specialised areas of journalism. For example, motoring, film or restaurant reviews.
You should never inject your point of view into an article unless it’s necessary to do so. However, sometimes you may be required to attempt to explain as well as inform. Be warned, there is a very fine line between interpretation and editorialising, that is, making comment. And sometimes you can make inadvertent comment, that is making comment without realising you are doing so.
There is the story of an editor who scolded a journalist who had written “elderly man”.
The editor asked the writer how old was “elderly” and what was the man’s age? The writer replied that the person in the article was 50 years old. The editor replied that the he, too, was 50 and did not consider himself elderly. He told the journalist to simply state the age and let the readers draw their own conclusion.
You must edit your work and probably re-edit again afterwards.
You must edit. You must be prepared to rewrite.
Don’t send material to anyone until you have taken it through this process.
Many beginners dislike rewriting what they have already written. This just shows you are unprofessional.
The secret to good writing is in editing what you have written. Any article can be improved the second time around. And, usually a third time.
There is a lot to consider:
· Can you improve your lead?
· Improved readability
· Grammatical mistakes Accuracy
· The simple flow of your story.
Each time you look at something you have written you can usually find a way to improve it.
Here is a checklist to use when you finish your article:
* Does your copy have ‘ear appeal’? If your copy sounds right when you read it aloud, it is probably doing its job. Readers hear what you write.
* Does your story make sense? Does it follow a logical progression and/or flow properly? Could it benefit from more information? Will it engage the reader?
* Does your copy flow? Good copywriting concerns setting out what you want to say in a logical sequence. Do not jump backwards and forwards between ideas or items of information. Does your article flow naturally from one point to another?
Also put your article to these tests. Have you:
* Written in the active voice?
* Used short sentences?
* Used short paragraphs?
* Used verbs to create action in your copy?
* Used adjectives sparingly?
* Used the shortest, simplest words possible?
* Avoided unnecessary words?
* Avoided clichés and jargon?
* Written so everything can be clearly understood?
* Written so nothing can be misunderstood?
In summary, I have no idea who might buy this article. Is it about China or Australian attitudes to China?
It goes without saying that you’ll have trouble selling an article about wrestling to a fashion magazine – unless it’s a piece about how the latest fashions were influenced by wrestling costumes.
I will assume that you already understand yachting magazines will not be interested in your story on horse-riding and so on. Fortunately for you, this is usually clear cut because of the specific nature of most magazines’ subject matter.
While this may be quite straightforward when it comes to niche and specialist titles, the lines are a little more blurred for publications with general appeal. For instance, a magazine such as Rolling Stone covers all styles of music and music journalism, while Inside Sport concerns itself with every aspect of sport. The same goes for the general ‘lifestyle’ titles.
How do you decide what sort of stories publications with such broad subject matter will be interested in buying? In fact, how do you determine what types of articles any publication will be interested in? Well, read them from cover to cover and you’ll have a good chance of finding out.
Read them as a writer who is interested in publishing. Beyond the words and pictures, note how the stories are presented. Think about why they might appear at the front, the middle or the back; how long they are; which style they are written in; and what purpose they serve in the context of the magazine.
Understanding all of the above is the best way of fast-tracking story ideas into a format that a publication requires. Understanding a magazine’s format is very, very important.
In order to crack the freelance writing market, you will need to understand it. Fortunately, educating yourself won’t require a lot of study because everything you should know is right there in glossy colour (and black and white) on news stands, in newsagencies, and on the Internet.
The more magazines and newspapers you skim through, the better you will be at knowing your markets and selling articles to them.
There are two ways of identifying whether your story is fit for a publication:
You can come up with the idea and finesse it until suitable for the media outlet you’re targeting.
Or, you can target a specific magazine or newspaper and, based on your research, think up an idea that’s perfect for them.
Read and reread the publication you want to write for.
You should examine every magazine you want to work for at least twice: once as a reader, then again as a writer.
The first time you should enjoy the magazine as it was intended; the second time you should look at it from a writer’s point of view – what work was required to make each story happen and why things were done the way they were.
Though it may seem like we’re labouring the point, you would be astounded by the number of aspiring writers who call up magazines every day without having looked at the title. They either offer editors material that is completely irrelevant in terms of subject matter or has no place in the established format.
As editors know their magazines inside out, there’s no faster way of agitating them than trying to sell articles without having read their magazine. This will be apparent to them within about five seconds.
If you can’t be bothered to do a bit of research before calling and asking for work, it doesn’t say much about the extent of the research you might do if actually asked to write something. Being well-read and knowledgeable is vital for you – and them.
When you read a magazine as a writer, ask yourself the following:
What is the tone of the writing throughout (serious, humorous, light, excitable, technical, conversational, sensationalist, critical, adoring, etc.)?
How long are the articles?
Where do the changes in length occur?
What type of articles appears in the front?
How are the longer feature articles styled?
What sort of articles run at the back?
Where in the magazine would my story ideas work best?
Which editorial sections do I have the resources to create stories for?
Once you have read, say, three issues of a publication a couple of times each, you will definitely be able to see patterns developing, which will furnish you with the answers to the questions above.
When you can confidently answer all those, you’ll be well equipped to start thinking of story ideas. Then you can start talking to commissioning editors with some degree of confidence. In summary, the better you know a magazine, the easier it is to think of suitable story ideas.
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