Becoming a More Effective Writer: Clarity and Organization (January 2019)

Course Overview

Becoming a More Effective Writer: Clarity and Organization (January 2019)
Online Group Seminar
Time Estimate:
The content of this course unfolds over several weeks. There are few scheduled meeting times, except for several live discussions, so you'll be able to learn on a schedule that works for you. The minimum time commitment each week is three to four hours.

Poynter Prepared members can save 20-25% on this course and all Poynter training. Learn more and join now.

About Online Group Seminars

In an online group seminar, you will gather with other participants in a virtual space, logging in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several weeks. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides individual feedback.

This archived Online Group Seminar was originally available on:
January 14 to February 11, 2019

Build the reporting and writing habits you need to organize your information better and write more clearly. You'll also get one-on-one coaching and feedback on your work.

Whether you write breaking news alerts, meeting summaries, business plans or email, you’ll learn the tools you need to deliver what your readers need and want.

View the sample syllabus for this course.


  • Tuesdays, January 15, 22, 29 and Feb 5 at 11 a.m. Eastern time


  • Fridays, January 18, 25, Feb. 1, 8 at 2 p.m. Eastern time
What Will I Learn:
  • How to turn facts and data into stories that readers and viewers will love
  • Tools to help you write with clarity and power
  • Ways to zero in on potential problems that can lead to fuzzy writing
  • Strategies to identify pitfalls that keep you from writing concisely
Who should take this course:

Writers who struggle with organizing their stories, especially on deadline, whether in print, online or for a broadcast audience. This course is for anyone who wants to tell powerful, clearly organized stories.

Course Instructor:

Merrill Perlman

Merrill Perlman is a consultant who works with news organizations, private companies and journalism organizations, specializing in editing and the English language. She spent 25 years at The New York Times in jobs ranging from copy editor to director of copy desks, in charge of all 150-plus copy editors at The Times. She is an adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and writes the Language Corner column for the Columbia Journalism Review. Merrill is a recipient of the Glamann Award from the American Copy Editors Society. She was a reporter for four years before becoming an editor.

Technical Requirements:

No special software is needed. However, we strongly recommend you have a high-speed or broadband connection. This course also will require Flash Player 8 or higher. (Get the latest version of Flash here.) For Mac users, we recommend accessing this course with Firefox or Safari 2.x or higher.