Laura Shin


Crowd funding concept

13 ways to get your journalism project crowdfunded

While handwringing over financial support for journalism is nothing new, it’s been especially fraught recently. From the Nate Thayer/Atlantic dustup to the possibility that the Tribune papers may be sold to the Koch brothers, everyone in media seems worried about funding the Fourth Estate.

One hopeful sign for such worriers: Crowdfunding has become a way to support journalism projects from one-off articles to the wholesale launch of new publications.

Back in 2008, crowdfunding platform Spot.us launched to support reporting, and has helped publish stories on partner sites ranging from The New York Times to Cleveland Free Press. Since Kickstarter’s launch in April 2009, 816 journalism projects have sought funding on the site, with 36 percent of them succeeding.

It’s not just individual articles that have gotten support. Matter, Tomorrow, The Big Roundtable and Homicide Watch have all launched publications or paid for programs by appealing to the Internet. Read more

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How writers can collect and organize string for stories

As a journalist, taking good notes is crucial to keeping your facts straight. But most writers do this simply for the purposes of the story at hand and then move on once it’s published.

Few consider this fact: Fleeting thoughts and observations that seem interesting, if not directly relevant to your article, could someday lead to another story, whether that’s a quick blog post or a book.

Capturing these random thoughts in an organized fashion is challenging. That could be why few writers do what is sometimes called collecting “string” — or, random threads of thought that could someday be spun into a larger story. (When reporting this article, I approached many writers who said they do not collect string. Some even asked me how to define the term.)

Below, I describe three very different methods for organizing string and recommend some software that could help organize the information for you. Read more

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How journalists can work well with interpreters during interviews

As journalists, our language facility is key to every aspect of our jobs, from reporting to writing. But the second we have to interview subjects who speak a language we don’t understand, we can’t depend on our own skills of observation, interviewing and listening. We’re left to rely on an interpreter.

Working with an interpreter is an essential skill any time you’re reporting in a country with a primary language you don’t speak. It’s also increasingly important in the United States, where the number of foreign-born Americans has been rising since 1970 and is currently around 38 million.

Here are the challenges journalists face when working with interpreters — and tips for dealing with them.

The difficulties of working with an interpreter

1. Accuracy: The biggest and most obvious danger of working with an interpreter is that you’ll get facts wrong or misquote someone — a serious mistake when interviewing anyone, let alone a prominent figure. Read more

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7 ways to make your work easy to fact check

Recent media incidents involving fabrication, plagiarism and untruthsJonah Lehrer, Fareed Zakaria and Niall Ferguson — have underscored the importance of keeping one’s facts straight and making them easy for others to check.

Each case demonstrated what good fact checking could have done:

  • Jonah Lehrer: Prevent fabrication
  • Fareed Zakaria: Help keep writers from inadvertently plagiarizing others
  • Niall Ferguson: Stop falsehoods from entering the public discourse, where once released, they often spread farther than their corrections

In all these cases, fact checking prevents damage to the publication’s credibility, and helps avert further erosion of the public trust in journalism. For writers, getting the facts right (plus, not stealing other people’s work) can only help a career.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic who wrote in defense of fact checkers after the Ferguson incident, says, “Fact checkers will save your life. They’re there to keep you from looking stupid.”[1] But he also notes that not everyone is lucky enough to work at a publication with a fact checking department, which means that, often, especially if you are writing under a tight deadline, you and your editor will be the de facto fact checkers. Read more

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