Among or Amongst? Amidst or amid? Whilst or while?

Amongst, amidst and whilst are the three most useless words in the English language.

Use among, amid and while instead.

Slowly fading out of use for the last two centuries, for some reason the more pretentious versions of three very simple words has risen in popularity. Read this for a more detailed explanation of why they are unnecessary.

Clarity is always most important.

Less letters, which say the same thing, is always clearer.

  • Among, not amongst.
  • While, not whilst.
  • Amid, not amidst.

A simple framework for a sports news article

Different articles take different forms – and different pieces of content deliver their messages best in specific structures, depending on the user story that you’re looking to answer. But there’s one that’s always the same: the piece of news.

User story: As a sports fan I want to know the results of this game so that feel informed.

The structure is simple:

  • Header: 8 words maximum, nothing clever, says what has happened.
  • Sub header: 14 words maximum, additional hook or interesting fact.
  • Paragraph 1: 14 word introduction, explaining what has happened, plus additional clause answering left-over who, where and when.
  • Paragraph 2: quotation from important participant.
  • Paragraphs 3+4: supporting information. (This can go on for longer, but how many people really read past four paragraphs?)
  • Optional: end of article bullet points with some quick facts.
  • Teaser: driving fans to the next game or content opportunity.

Here’s the framework applied to a fictional example inspired by a game result in the NBA.

Header: 8 words maximum, nothing clever, says what has happened.

Rockets beat Hawks 118-99 for 50th win

Sub header: 14 words maximum, additional hook or interesting fact.

Houston leads the Western Conference with a quarter of the regular season left to play.

Paragraph 1: 14 word introduction, explaining what has happened, plus additional clause answering left-over who, where and when.

The Houston Rockets rolled to their 50th victory by beating the Atlanta Hawks 118-99 | 14 words | on Sunday night, as James Harden recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with 18 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in Atlanta’s Philips Arena.

Paragraph 2: quotation from important participant.

“Winning is what it’s all about. I’m not going into the depths but I thought it was all about winning,” said Harden when asked if he considered himself the leader in the MVP race.

Paragraphs 3+4: supporting information.

Houston ran up a 21-point lead after two quarters, 74-53, and then held off a late Atlanta surge in the fourth, when the almost Hawks dragged the game back into contention at 101-92, to secure the win.

 

Gerald Green had 23 points and Chris Paul added 20 as Eric Gordon sat out a fifth consecutive game with a strained calf muscle.

Optional: end of article bullet points with some quick facts.

– Taurean Prince led the Hawks with 28 points from the bench.

 

– The Hawks have lost four in a row and eight of their last 10.

 

– Houston sits atop the Western Conference, three wins up on the Golden State Warriors.

Teaser: driving fans to the next game or content opportunity.

Next: The Rockets face the Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday night while the Hawks play the Golden State Warriors in Atlanta on Thursday.

The key to delivering well-read news content is timeliness, clarity and conciseness. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Answer the key questions – and educate the audience.

5 steps to producing good content

If you have nothing to say, then shut up.

The internet is full of crap. Newspapers, magazines and other paper-based publications were also full of crap, previously, but nowadays it’s far more available and far more prevalent. These five steps prevent you from adding to the white noise.

The principles apply to all kinds of content – including social media messaging, photography and videos – not just written articles.

1. Identify a question

Every piece of content is an answer. To avoid splurging words like a penned-in politician, write the question first. If you don’t have a question, an answer isn’t necessary – and if an answer is necessary, you’ll know whether you’ve answered the question.

Example: How do I write content that isn’t shit?

2. Describe the audience

Who’s asking the question? The answer will change dependent on the niche you’re speaking to. No answer has more than one audience, although it may be useful or interesting for a group that you didn’t intend.

Example: Audience is content producers looking to improve.

3. Set a goal

A realistic outcome from your piece – and not something generic, but an attainable achievement given the question and the audience you’ve already picked. Other, secondary outcomes might come to fruition, but the only one you’re interested in is the goal you’re highlighting right now.

Example: Explain the concept of user stories.

4. Write a user story

Put the above three three items into one sentence, using the following formula: As an (audience) I should know about (goal) so that (question).

Example: As a content producer I should know about user stories so I produce less shit content

5. Use it

Write your user story at the top of the page, on a post-it on your desk or on the back of your hand, and no matter what twists and turns your piece of content – be it written, video or anything else – takes, you’ll be creating something to answer a specific question, for a specific audience and with a specific outcome in mind.