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Coffee Break Course

A two-minute selection from a News University online course.

NEWS

Building your business? See how you stack up to the competition

Whether you're launching a new product or service, or revising the strategy of your current business, it's critical that you know your competition and the marketplace. An analytical review of your competitors will help you chart your course. How big are your competitors’ audiences? Use a web tracking service to get a sense of how many visitors competing websites receive. Read More
NEWS

4 'breath test' questions to diagnose your story leads

The first words of any story are critical. With that precious beginning, you offer your audience a promise that your story is worth their time. That’s the heavy-duty job of your lead. Occasionally leads will seem to magically fly onto the computer screen. But, more often, they are the product of hard work of writing and revising. Use the “breath … Read More
NEWS

How to choose an approach that resolves conflict

There are many styles of conflict resolution--from competition to avoidance. Experts say each of us tends to have a “default style.” Yet our preferred approach won't work in every situation. You need to understand each style, especially if you are in a leadership role in your organization, and when to use it. Here are five styles, drawn from the work … Read More
NEWS

7 questions to help you organize new ideas

You've brainstormed some ideas for your organization. Now it's time to evaluate how well they might work. The answers to these questions can help shape any idea: Are you willing to try an idea even if it isn’t theoretically practical? How dramatic is the change that the innovative idea requires? How quickly can management/staff adapt to this change? Should a … Read More
NEWS

11 questions to ask before sharing graphic photos, video

Images and videos can be powerful tools to describe extremely difficult subjects. And digital cameras, smartphones and emerging storytelling tools make it easier than ever to share a dizzying array of news images. Yet many of these can be graphic or gruesome. Here are some questions to help you decide what, where or whether to broadcast, publish or share visually … Read More
NEWS

3 guidelines for effective content on social platforms

Posting on social doesn’t mean you should post the same thing on every platform. Each platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.,) has unique qualities, different strengths and purposes, and a specific best use case. Your goal is to share content in a way that is natural for users on that social platform. You want to offer relevant content that your audience … Read More
NEWS

5 fact-checking tips for editors

Facts matter in all types of writing, especially in news and informational texts. Errors of fact can damage a writer's credibility and cause embarrassment, and they can irritate readers. Many fact errors are preventable, and that's where editors come in. Your first step is to identify the potential fact errors in the writing. Here are next steps: Find at least … Read More
NEWS

8 headline tips to draw readers on social media

Stories fill social media platforms in a continuous stream, so drawing readers to your work gets more difficult every day. Cutting through the social noise starts with sharper headlines that resonate with audiences. Here are eight tips for stronger headlines on social media. Explain the news: People want to stay informed and learn information they can use. Pick strong verbs: … Read More
NEWS

From competition to avoidance: 5 styles of conflict resolution

Experts in conflict resolution say people tend to have a “default style” -- a preferred approach that typically we rely on. Here are five styles, drawn from the work of conflict scholars Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann. Which one are you apt use, especially in difficult conversations? Competition: I generally value my goals over relationships. I see conflict in terms … Read More
NEWS

10 questions for your headline-writing checklist

Headlines are lifelines to our readers. They grab attention, build trust and help time-pressed consumers focus on the stories they care most about. How do you ensure that they are engaging as well as accurate? Here are 10 questions to ask when you are writing (or editing) headlines. Is it accurate? There’s no such thing as “kind of” accurate. When … Read More
NEWS

How innovative is your company? Ask these 6 questions

Innovations can be analyzed so you can evaluate whether they will work at your organization. After you've come up with an idea, here are some questions to ask about your organization and its ability to innovate: Does your organization embrace innovation or accept it reluctantly? Does your organization see innovation as a continuous process or as a one-time event? Does … Read More
NEWS

7 ways to avoid jargon in your writing

Anyone who has tried to read a legal document or a technical manual understands how jargon, clutter, numbers and acronyms can jumble together, undercutting meaning and frustrating even the avid reader. Writers must avoid the trap of describing complex issues in complicated prose. Clarity starts with a clear understanding of the topic you are writing about. Here are some other … Read More
NEWS

Use these 4 lists to organize your investigative reporting project

Investigative reporting requires that you create a plan. Typically, it's a series of four lists of things you need to do, along with an initial schedule. The lists will change — and often grow — and the schedule may change, but you need to start with a plan to keep yourself organized. List 1: Research The first list includes … Read More
NEWS

Here's what you should consider before using a fact-check rating system

One of the hallmarks of fact-checking is to demonstrate whether a claim has been corroborated by facts. Many fact-checking organizations use a rating system when they offer a verdict for a claim they have researched, according to a survey by the Duke Reporters' Lab. Here are some pros and cons to implementing a rating system, such as the Pinocchio scale … Read More
NEWS

9 tips for writing stronger 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. Here are nine ways to write engaging, accurate headlines for any platform. Be specific, not vague. Draw readers in because your headline is compelling. Don't waste readers' time by asking them to keep reading to see what … Read More
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