Don Fry

Represents the Poynter Institute at journalism organization meetings and conferences, National Writers' Workshops, and the Institute for Advancement of Journalism in South Africa. Helps writers to write better, editors to edit better, and managers to organize better through coaching. Directed the Institute's writing program from 1988-1994.


How to Handle Quotes from Inarticulate People

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Writers love quotes because they add human interest and immediacy, but most people you want to quote don’t talk clearly. You have several options: don’t quote them, paraphrase, use a partial quote, ask the question again or sharpen the answer.… Read more

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Reinvent Yourself after a Buyout

So they bought you out, and now you’re out of work. Wrong. You’re not unemployed; you have a new job: reinventing yourself.

Here’s how.

First of all, it’s not your fault that your newspaper’s owners did not figure out early … Read more

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White Space for Writers

Ever wished you had a private office to write in, right in your newsroom? Big stars have them, but most of us aren’t big stars. Even most editors don’t have such a sanctuary, although they may need one for discreet … Read more

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The Perils of the Plateau: Helping Stuck Journalists

By Don Fry

Journalists, particularly very good ones, tend to plateau at some point in their careers. They report, write, produce or design at perfectly competent levels, even star levels, but they don’t get any better. Some remain satisfied with … Read more

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Want to Live Forever? Write Your Own Obit

Journalists traditionally earn a valuable fringe benefit: They always get an obituary when they croak, either by their paper’s obit writer or by someone else in the newsroom. Now think about your colleagues. Do you really trust those louts to … Read more

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Bigfoot in the Newsroom

Bigfoot stalks your newsroom late in the day. He (or she) marches in and takes a look at the top stories, usually the front page, and says something like this: “This is a good story, but it would be a … Read more

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What Makes Local News Really Local?

The question top editors ask me most, especially those at larger papers, is how to make their papers local, or more local. Most of what I suggest gets dismissed out of hand.


I’ve just concluded a series of workshops and … Read more

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Unmuddling Middles

Many reporters write strong leads, back them up, and finish their story with an ending. But the middle “has no recognizable sequence of ideas, no flow of cause and effect, and no narrative, just puddles of information,” as … Read more

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Do-It-Yourself Journalism

Most editors find it hard to get their staffs to produce the kind of stories they want. They teach and nag and remind, but the reporters just don’t seem to get it, and neither does the editor. What’s the problem? … Read more

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Start at the Copy Desk

Every newly-hired reporter should spend the first month on the copy desk, working as a fledgling copy editor to get firsthand experience in everything copy editors do and know.

Your copy desk knows everything going on in your newspaper. When … Read more

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