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Tips/Training

NEWS

4 strategies for writing story endings

A writer can face many problems in ending a story. Time may run out, or space on the page, so that the ending really says: “I stopped writing here.” The story may lack focus or a problem may not be clearly defined so that an ending strategy appears forced or contrived. Some endings are stale and conventional, the equivalent of … Read More
NEWS

6 questions to help you evaluate media messages

Every time you watch TV, listen to radio, open a web site or read a newspaper, magazine or book, someone is trying to tell — or sell — you something. The best way to achieve media literacy is to evaluate all the messages that bombard you. Ask these questions to understand the message: Who created, or paid for, the message? … Read More
NEWS

What to avoid when writing online headlines

Headlines are lifelines to our readers. They grab attention, build trust and help time-pressed consumers focus on the stories they care most about. They link readers with our content, giving us a chance to reach our audience across a sea of information. Headlines also help search engines decide whether our offerings match what users are looking for online or on … Read More
NEWS

How to move from 'editor' to 'coach'

Every editor must learn to fix stories, but fixing is not the same as coaching. Coaching is the human side of editing. In other words, the editor coaches the writer — but fixes the story. Before an editor can successfully coach a reporter, you need to know who he or she is. A simple "getting to know you" interview with … Read More
NEWS

9 questions to focus your time on the beat

The best reporters learn how the world works, whether it’s the world of law enforcement, the laboratory, the zoning commission, the city council or the corporate boardroom. One of the best ways to provide excellent coverage is to focus your efforts. Here's a checklist to help you think critically about how your spend your time: Enterprise Story Ideas: What are … Read More
NEWS

How to sift through your story ideas

Writers see the world as a storehouse of story ideas. But not every idea is worth a story. Good writers sift the ideas, rejecting some (or most) and selecting the few that have potential. Here are some ways to sort through your ideas. Raise the bar. Be ruthless about whether this is a fresh idea or something you've seen so … Read More
NEWS

5 motivators to engage your viewers

The lead of your story has to speak to what motivates viewers to sit and watch. Here are five motivators for engaging viewers with a news story on TV or the web: Money Family Safety Health Community You can address the “safety” motivator in crime stories, in stories about unsafe cars or in stories about texting or talking on the … Read More
NEWS

6 questions to guide the way you engage with your audience

Audience engagement is more than just a buzzword — it's an essential part of journalism. By focusing on three topic areas — transparency, listening and outreach — you can build trust and engagement with audiences in today’s political landscape. Here's a checklist to help you get started with meaningful audience engagement from Jennifer Brandel, founder and CEO of Hearken: … Read More
NEWS

8 techniques for finding and fixing errors in your writing

Mistakes are not necessarily an indicator of skill — or lack thereof. Certainly, a journalist who consistently makes factual errors is in need of training and guidance. But any of us can make a mistake at any time. Here's a list of useful tips and tricks for identifying and preventing mistakes in your work. Start every interview by asking the … Read More
FROM THE POYNTER INSTITUTE

How writing a Pulitzer Prize-winning story is like eating a big slice of pizza

For Diana Sugg, writing a big story is a little bit like eating a slice of pizza. Don't try to bite off more than you can chew at the beginning, said Sugg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor at The Baltimore Sun. Start with the small end. The slice — and the story — gets wider the farther in you go. At the beginning, … Read More
NEWS

7 questions to guide your voice as a writer

Memorable writing has a strong voice. But how do you develop the genuine tone that distinguishes your writing? Consider these components: What is the level of language? Is it concrete or abstract or somewhere in between? Do you use street slang or the logical argument of a professor of philosophy? What "person" do you work in? Should you use "I" … Read More
NEWS

7 ingredients for effective reviews

Powerful reviews do more than offer a list of observations about a movie, TV show or play. Reviews, like all forms of opinion writing, work best when they tell a story and connect with their audience. Eric Deggans, the TV critic for NPR, shares these strategies. Be a griot. Just like the African poets and storytellers who told the history … Read More
NEWS

2 ways to put numbers in context

In honor of Pi Day on March 14 (Pi is approximately 3.14159 — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter), today's Coffee Break Course celebrates math. When reporting on numbers, give them some context so you can present a broader picture to your readers. For example: Cost of Living. Adjust for inflation so that the … Read More
NEWS

4 ways to dig deeper in stories of faith and religion

Stories about religion are not just about a church, temple or mosque. Here are some guiding questions to help you tell stories with context and credibility. Motivation. Religious belief or morality is often used to justify assertions or behaviors--and it can also be used as a screen to disguise other motivations. Are there other factors or concerns at stake in … Read More
NEWS

5 tips for writing blog posts

Even the best writers struggle from time to time in crafting their work. This can be especially tricky for bloggers, who want to produce a steady flow of content for their audience. Not to worry. Every writer faces this dilemma. Here are some strategies to kick-start your work. Try the Hemingway Trick for Early Productivity Ernest Hemingway concluded his writing … Read More
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