Roger H. Goun from Brentwood, NH, USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Jim Marshall’s Notes on Newswriting 

Many newsrooms have an ombudsman or a quality control editor, who looks at the stories being published with a critical eye and helps identify ways that reporters can improve their writing and reporting. This editor will often issue a report, pointing out common grammatical errors or tips on how to improve sentences and story structure. They may also highlight story approach, reporting technique or ethics. 

At Prison Journalism Project, we do this through “The P.I.T.,” a regularly issued newsletter for PJP writers by retired veteran journalist and editor Jim Marshall, who brings 38 years of experience, much of it at global news agency Thomson Reuters. Because half of PJP’s mission is to train incarcerated writers to be journalists, Jim takes an education-centric approach that explores the habits and practices that will enable our writers and reporters to produce vital and compelling journalism. 

We add these issues in our correspondences with our writers, and we keep track of the issues they have already received, so we don’t send the same one twice. 

The name of the newsletter comes from The Pit, the seat on the editing desk where an editor wrote news flashes on breaking stories. It is also short for “The Point is This.”

The following are downloadable versions of past issues. We grant permission to reprint and use them under the Creative Commons license, Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0), as long as you credit Prison Journalism Project and do not use them for commercial purposes. For permission to incorporate an excerpt in a book, textbook or other publication, email