RT Cunningham


Fluff and Pap in Journalism, and One Career of Many I Did Not Pursue

journalismI read a lot. And I mean a lot. And I have to say, more than half of what I read is full of fluff and pap. What’s fluff and pap, you may ask? It’s a term used in journalism. You know, things like news articles in newspapers?

Fluff and pap are almost synonyms. Fluff means something inconsequential and pap means something lacking value or substance.

True Journalism is Becoming Rare

Journalism is the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business. The key word is “news”. If the facts aren’t reported correctly, it isn’t news at all.

Most news items these days are biased in one way or another, especially in political news. Liberal versus conservative is one such bias. Many news items are opinion pieces, reporting viewpoints instead of facts. I’m old enough to remember when news was mostly facts, way back in the 1970s.

A Good Example of Fluff and Pap

I learned to read and write at an early age, at the same time as an older sister (she taught me). I was reading full novels by the time I was six years old. There were certain words that I couldn’t pronounce and there wasn’t anyone in my age group who could tell me how to pronounce them. I pronounced (in my head) words like rendezvous and hors d’oeuvre like I thought they would sound. Of course, I was completely wrong.

I was wrong about many other words as well. It wasn’t until I started studying a lot of Spanish and a little French before I learned the truth. I can also include words like envelope (the French version) and entrée. They use the short “o”, not the short “e” and the double “e” sounds like “ay”.

When I was 10, I started selling and delivering newspapers in the podunk town I grew up in (Coolidge, Arizona). Well, mostly grew up in. My family left when I was 13 and returned about three and a half years later. I left for the military a year later.

I read the newspapers I sold. Along with two other newspapers from Phoenix whenever I could get my hands on them. I was well-versed in various aspects of journalism before I started high school. I even took related courses in high school. Alas, I gave up any journalistic aspirations when I joined the Marine Corps. In a sense, I started pursuing something like it when I started blogging in 2006, around eight years after military retirement.

According to various sources. Blogging isn’t journalism. Other sources say it is. I suppose it depends on the material more than anything.

Blogging Instead of Journalism

As I mentioned in another article about blogging, it really doesn’t matter what you call it. All of it’s a form of written journalism, at least for me. I try to be as factual as I possibly can be. I don’t call it journalism because I don’t want to be tied to one aspect of writing versus another.

This is where the fluff and pap come into play. According to experts (not me, of course), every blog article should be 300 words or more to stay in the good graces of the largest search engine, Google. I try hard to make it past 500 whenever I can. This article, the one you’re reading right now, is closer to 600 words. If I left out the fluff and pap, I seriously doubt I would reach 300.

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By RT Cunningham
August 19, 2019