For an editor, coaching means engaging the writer in an ongoing conversation about the story, from the conception of the idea to the final edit. The more time and thought you invest in this conversation, the less work you will likely face in “fixing” the story when it comes in.

One key moment in coaching is during the first edit.

In this conversation, you can give the reporter feedback and talk about premise, simplicity, clarity and story flow. Here are some questions to guide your conversation:

  • After writing the first draft, does the premise of the story still hold?
  • How are you conveying what the story is really about?
  • What can you do to make the story’s language simple and clear?
  • Are there any differing viewpoints that need to be reflected in the story?

Taken from The Language of Coaching, a self-directed course by Poynter's Roy Peter Clark at Poynter NewsU.

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