Flowery euphemisms once the rule in
journalistic accounts of death are no longer
A person is widely known, not well-known.
Nevertheless, even when widely known is used, it must
be followed up with specific accomplishments.
recommended in straight newswriting. They are less
objective and are not more acceptable to the reader. Why
say remains, when body is a more accurate description?
The body is placed in a coffin, not a casket. It is usually
taken home, not shipped. Funeral services, not
obsequies, are held. The body is buried, not interned.
The descriptive terms young, middle-aged and
elderly are often misused because they are relative.
The criteria used by The Associate Press is as follows:
A person is young until he is 35, middle-aged from 35
to 65, and elderly after 65. But if you think a persons
age is important, why use descriptive adjectives at all?
Why not merely identify the person as being 35, 52, 68
or whatever the age maybe?
GATHERING THE FACTS
Gathering the facts for a routine Navy accident story
is simple. Often, the best source of information is the
personnel office. The casualty report made by the
personnel office and transmitted by priority message
will provide you with most of the necessary information.
In gathering the facts for an accident story, make
sure you get the following information:
Status: Active duty or reserves.
Casualtys full name, including rank or rate, file
or service number and branch of service.
Type of death: Killed in action, died of wounds
received inaction or death from whatever cause;
the extent of injury: Injuries sustained and
medical listing of patient, when available.
Remember to attribute the stated cause of death
to competent authority when the cause is not
Date, hour, place, circumstances and cause, when
Location and disposition of body.
Full name, addresses and relationship of next of
Information stating whether next of kin has been
These facts usually provide enough information for
a start. Note that the following report briefly answers all
the questions necessary for an accident story. A few
well-placed telephone calls will provide you with any
other details you may need. The results may look
something like those that follow:
A Little Creek sailor was killed
today when his automobile went out of
control, struck a railroad track and
overturned on Sewells Point Road
near Wards Corner.
The sailor was identified as
Gunners Mate First Class John J. Doe,
37, husband of Mrs. Dolores E. Doe of
1717 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City, N.J.
A veteran of 16 years naval
service, Doe was attached to the
Morale, Welfare and Recreation
(MWR) Department, Little Creek
Naval Amphibious Base. His death
marks the first traffic fatality involving
Little Creek naval personnel since
A routine accident story of this type usually runs
about three or four paragraphs. It is brief and compact,
yet contains enough information to satisfy the
requirements of most newspapers.
All accident stories, however, are not this simple.
When two or more casualties are involved, you will have
to dig for more details and write a story with a casualty
list. Listed next are some of the facts you should
the dead and injured.
Cause of the accident. Authoritative sources
should be consulted and quoted whenever
necessary. If the cause of the accident is not
readily apparent, the story should state, The
cause of the accident is unknown and is under
accident may be unknown, qualifiers sometimes
may be used to present a probable cause in the
story. For example, An eyewitness to the crash
said that the plane struck a treetop during
takeoff. The cause of an accident may be
reported after a complete investigation has been
made. Meanwhile, do not speculate in your
release concerning its cause, especially when
negligence or human error is suspected.
Accurate number and complete identities of
investigation. Although the exact cause of an