April 28, 2004
Today's Journalism Lesson from the New York Post

Turning a press release into an article or caption is easy and fun. First, take a press release, say, for example, Gretchen Mol to Play the Title Role in Killer Films' THE BALLAD OF BETTIE PAGE; Financed by HBO, Film is Directed by Mary Harron, and Written by Harron and Guinivere Turner (from March 31, 2004).

Now, using your mouse, select the portion of the text you want to use and select 'Cut' from your 'File' menu. (There is a shortcut for this, but we only recommend that seasoned writers attempt to use that.)

Using the example press release, select the following text:

The most successful pin-up model of the 1950s, Page's legendary bondage photographs made her the target of a Senate investigation into pornography, and turned her into one of the first American sex icons.

You may also want to scroll down in the press release and copy this portion:

The cast also includes Lili Taylor ("Casa de los babys"), David Strathairn ("Twisted"), Jonathan M. Woodward ("Pipe Dream"), Cara Seymour ("Gangs of New York"), Tara Subkoff ("The Cell") and Kevin Carroll ("The Secret Lives of Dentists").

Open a text-editing document and select 'Paste' from the 'File' menu. Now comes the hard part: editing. You'll want to add the name "Bettie Page" in that first sentence. You'll also want to shorten the second paragraph a bit. Also, you might want to write your own topical hook in the beginning, since this press release is a bit old.

Congratulations, you have an article or caption. To see the fruits of your labor, check out GORGEOUS GRETCHEN A CONEY EYEFUL in today's New York Post:

Actress Gretchen Mol dazzles yesterday as she struts her stuff while on location shooting "The Ballad of Bettie Page" in Coney Island.

In the film, the 31-year-old stunner plays the 1950s pinup girl whose legendary bondage photos made her the target of a Senate investigation into pornography.

Dubbed the "Girl with the Perfect Figure," Page was one of America's first sex sirens.

She graced the pages of hundreds of magazines, including Playboy.

The flick also stars Lili Taylor and David Strathairn.

Earlier: How to Write An Obituary Without Breaking a Sweat

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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