Engineman Third Class John C.
Stole, 21, a passenger, suffered
compound fractures and internal
injuries. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs.
Alton H. Stole of 4109 American Ave.,
Long Beach, Calif.
The body of an accident story tells the complete
story in detail. It maybe developed in either logical or
chronological order, but it should be written in a manner
appropriate to the subject matter.
A straight fact story concerning a plane crash or an
auto accident would ordinarily be developed in logical
order after the casualties are listed. The most important
facts would be presented first. An accident story,
however, is most adaptable to chronological order
development. In a heroic rescue, for example, where
dramatic details play an important part, the story would
be told in narrative form.
The style for an accident story is the same as for all
newswriting. Simplicity, clarity and brevity are essential
elements. More than ever, the writer should tell the story
and stick to the facts.
Maudlin sentimentality or emotionalism the old
hearts and flowers routine must be avoided
Phrases such as tragic loss, grief-striken family
and went to his final reward are the marks of an
amateur. They are banned inmost newsrooms.
There are also certain errors in syntax that are
peculiar to accident stories. Note the examples that
Death may occur following an operation or
during an operation, but not as a result of an
operation. This implies negligence on the part of
the persons performing it.
Accidents happen and explosions occur, but
neither takes place. That would imply they had
Everybody dies ultimately of heart failure, not of
a heart ailment.
A fire is not a conflagration until it sweeps a wide
area. Conflagrations are rare. A fire approaches
conflagration proportions only when three or
four city blocks are aflame.
A fire may damage, destroy, gut or raze a house.
It does not, however, partially destroy it or bum
it to the ground.
Although commonly used, planes do not collide
in midair. They may collide on the ground or in
the air. There is no way of determining midair.
Weather often causes accidents and disasters that
make news. In addition, gale warnings, storms at sea and
hurricane evacuations play major roles in Navy stories.
Simple weather terminology, however, is frequently
misused by the Navy journalist.
To avoid such misuse, some of the more common
terms and their definitions with which you should
become familiar are listed as follows:
A gale is a strong wind with a velocity of 39 to
54 miles per hour.
A storm manifests itself with winds of unusual
force, ranging from 54 to 74 miles per hour. It is
often accompanied by rain, snow, hail and violent
outbursts of thunder and lightning.
A hurricane or typhoon is a storm of intense
severity and violence with winds exceeding 74
miles per hour. The difference between a
hurricane and a typhoon is mostly a matter of
geography. Storms west of the international date
line are called typhoons; those east of the line are
called hurricanes. Both are identified as cyclones
in the Indian Ocean.
Certain medical terms crop up in accident stories
from time to time. They should be simplified whenever
possible as in the following examples:
Damage figures are also frequently used. You
should keep in mind that initial figures are usually
estimates and should be stated as such. If the figures are
unusual or high, they should be attributed to the
authority who made them.