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Tips/Training

NEWS

3 tips for rounding off numbers

It's so tempting to round off numbers and present your audience with clear, whole numbers rather than cluttering up the text with decimal points and a string of digits. Sometimes rounding a number up (or down) is just fine. But sometimes it creates an inaccurate picture. How can an ethical journalist tell the difference? Here are some guidelines: Percents often … Read More
NEWS

4 ways to use photos in your multimedia stories

As you plan your multimedia story, you have to decide which tools (video, audio, photos, graphics, etc.) would best tell each part of the story. The web is a visual medium, so be sure to include photos. Use photos to replace 1,000 words, not as accessories to words. Text and photos should complement each other visually, as well as in … Read More
NEWS

Use your X-ray vision to learn from other writers

One way writers learn from stories is to use their X-ray vision. (After all, Superman was also a newspaper reporter.) X-ray reading helps you see through the text of the story to view the machinery of grammar, language, syntax and rhetoric, the gears of making meaning, the hardware of the trade. Here are some X-ray reading tricks offered by writers: … Read More
NEWS

How to end your story in a way that lingers in your viewer's heart

Don’t spend all of your energy on the first half of your story only to allow the piece to run out of gas. What you show and say at the end are often what lingers in the viewer’s heart. Good endings resolve the main theme of the story. Negative Action Shot. Photojournalist friend Don Cadorette likes to have the subject … Read More
NEWS

The definitive summer reading list for journalists who just can't put their work down

Last year, I asked journalists to talk about their work habits while on vacation. Some were able to completely break away; others found it difficult to head to the beach without checking their work frequently. If you can’t break away this summer, you might as well jump in with both feet forward. Whether you’re vacationing at the beach or … Read More
NEWS

7 lessons from BuzzFeed’s 'FOIA-friendly newsroom'

Does your newsroom have a public records strategy? Do you track how many Freedom of Information requests reporters make? Who do your reporters turn to for help if they are struggling to get records? Answers to these questions likely vary by newsroom, but I recently got a chance to find out how BuzzFeed’s news staff is working to improve the … Read More
NEWS

A checklist of red flags for fact-checkers during breaking news

During breaking news situations, unverified information, rumors, fake photos and outright lies are unfortunately part of the process in social media. As a fact-checker, you don’t want to spread false information or spend time chasing a rumor. But how can you tell? Here’s a “red flag” checklist to consult during a breaking news event: “Answers” given too soon Anonymous sources … Read More
NEWS

How to interview for your audio narratives

The best interviews for audio narratives provide the facts around an issue and offer distinct moments that add color, interest and variety to a story. The basics of good interviewing apply to an audio story. But there are additional factors for audio narratives, especially if you’re planning to tell the story solely through interview clips, without the benefit of a … Read More
NEWS

How to include solutions in your interviews on social issues

Solutions journalism offers rigorous and compelling coverage about responses to social problems. As part of your reporting, consider these approaches to interviewing a wide range of stakeholders, including the people enacting the solution, those directly affected, detractors, funders, academics and more. Replace “Whodunnit?” with “Howdunnit?” In solutions journalism, what matters most is the wisdom found in the actions of your … Read More
NEWS

Your quest for a lead starts with these questions about your story

To write an effective lead, you have to know--first and foremost--what the story is about. Start with the five W's and an H: What happened? Who did it happen to? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Why did it happen? How did it happen? With that knowledge you can logically zero in on the two basic focusing questions: … Read More
NEWS

How to manage your reaction, and your response, in times of change

Change creates a mixture of anticipation, anxiety, uncertainty, dread, eagerness and fear. There is something important about these feelings. The words describe not the change itself, but how people typically feel when faced with change. Leading change is a matter of leading people. Here are some typical emotions you may feel when chance is announced and how you can manage … Read More
NEWS

Some guidelines to help you with copyright and fair use

Understanding copyright and fair use can help you avoid two things that are highly detrimental to publishing: costly litigation and self-censorship. When you are considering using someone else's work, here are some questions to help you with next steps. Do you need permission? Is this work protected under copyright, or is it in the public domain? If the work is … Read More
NEWS

Here's what the AP Stylebook says about when to capitalize names, titles

In honor of the Associated Press Stylebook changes on capitalizing internet and web (lowercase starting today), here are some other guidelines for capitalization. One rule of thumb to guide you: In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. Proper and Common Nouns Capitalize proper nouns and proper names: John, Mary, Nelson, Facebook. Capitalize common nouns such as party, river and street when … Read More
NEWS

How to make sense of numbers in science and health reports

All kinds of studies, particularly health studies or pharmaceutical trials, report changes in risk. To make sure your story covers those numbers accurately, ethically and elegantly you need to understand how risk (the chance of something happening) works. If you flip a coin, the “risk” or chance that it will land on heads is 50 percent, or one in two. Read More
NEWS

How to prepare for an interview with a source

The effective interviewer knows what he or she wants from an interview. That’s what John Brady, author of “The Craft of Interviewing,” thinks. The interviewer is like a chess player, he says, never moving a piece or asking a question without a greater purpose. Here’s what to ask yourself at the outset of reporting: What do I want to know? … Read More
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