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Coffee Break Course

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

NEWS

Understanding Media: Process and Principles

Media messages can be understood by using four process skills: access, analyze, evaluate and create. Access means you can locate, identify and understand information that you need. Many different media can provide you with information, including newspapers, magazines, books, television, radio, the Internet and social media platforms. You need to identify the type of media that gives the information you … Read More
NEWS

Fundamentals of Editing: The Editing Process

The editing process takes place in several steps and involves reading the same text several times, each time with a different focus. Step A must be done first. Step F is best done last. The others can be done in whatever order you find most productive. Some editors find it better to clean up all the details first and then … Read More
NEWS

Introduction to Sports Reporting: Before the Game

Covering the big game? Just like athletes practice before the coin toss or the tip-off, journalists have to prepare. You lay the foundation for your story with the work you do in advance of the game. The work will pay off. You will see details that fans might miss. You will have context that goes beyond rehashing the play-by-play. As … Read More
NEWS

The Writer's Workbench: Prefer the Simple

Clear writing starts with a sense of purpose and a determination to inform. Too often, writers render complicated ideas with complicated prose, producing sentences such as this one, from an editorial about state government: To avert the all-too-common enactment of requirements without regard for their local cost and tax impact, however, the commission recommends that statewide interest should be clearly … Read More
NEWS

Social Media: Strategies and Tools for News

You can set up all kinds of social media platforms and dashboards, but how can you tell whether your social media efforts are having any impact? No matter what tools you use (Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and more), you'll want to track certain core data sets to see if you are accomplishing your goals. You can always add more, but … Read More
NEWS

Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling: Creating a Storyboard

A storyboard is simply a sketch of how you plan to organize your multimedia story. It doesn’t have to be high art. And it’s just a guide—not an iron-clad design. On a piece of paper (or the digital tool of your choice), sketch out the main story page and the elements it will include. What’s the nut graf? What are … Read More
NEWS

Cleaning Your Copy: Commas

Punctuation helps the reader understand a story. Commas, periods, dashes and other marks convey the writer's voice. They signal an emphasis or tone in language, as well as tell a reader when to stop or pause. Here are some guidelines for using commas. If a word or phrase is essential, do not put commas around it. Essential: People who eat … Read More
NEWS

How to Fact-Check Politics and the Media: A Primer

Finding and choosing claims to fact-check can be tricky. Not everything a politician, government official or media organization says can be checked. But here are some ways to identify statements in the vast information ecosystem that you can fact-check. A fact-checkable statement: Has been obtained from a reliable source (with video or articles that you can link to, Twitter or … Read More
NEWS

Florida's Sunshine Laws: Open Meetings

This week is Sunshine Week, the American Society of News Editors' annual celebration of open government and freedom of information in the nation. In that spirit, we're sharing guidelines related to the Sunshine Law in Florida. Florida is one of only a handful of states that has both a constitutional and statutory right of access to the meetings … Read More
NEWS

The Language of Coaching

Every editor must learn to fix stories, but fixing is not the same as coaching. Coaching is the human side of editing. It serves the reader by making the story and the writer better at the same time. Here are some key differences between coaching and fixing: The editor coaches the writer but fixes the story. The editor coaches throughout … Read More
NEWS

Solutions Journalism in Every Newsroom

We’ve just launched a new Poynter News University course in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network. Today’s Coffee Break Course is courtesy of that training. Solutions journalism offers rigorous and compelling coverage about responses to social problems — not simply reporting about a problem. One way to start with this approach is knowing where to look for solutions. Read More
NEWS

Language of the Image: Ethics for Visual Media

Photographs and visual images tend to generate heated debates in media organizations. Is the photograph or the video image too graphic to publish? Will it bring a public outcry if it is used on the evening news, a website, mobile device or the front page of the newspaper? The Poynter Institute has devised this checklist for ethical decision-making in photojournalism. Read More
NEWS

Cleaning Your Copy: Parallel Construction

In celebration of National Grammar Day, today’s training comes from NewsU’s most popular course: Cleaning Your Copy. Can't figure out why a sentence just doesn't sound right. The problem might be a lack of parallel construction. That means each element in a sentence should be treated the same way. Here's a sentence with parallel construction: The budget director … Read More
NEWS

Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling

The best multimedia stories are non-linear. You engage readers by letting them choose which elements to read (or watch or hear or...) and when to read them. Consider these elements to help you divide your story into logical non-linear components. A paragraph explaining the focus of your story Profiles of the main characters The main event The process or how … Read More
NEWS

Whose Truth? Tools for Smart Science Journalism in the Digital Age

Some basic questions will help you sift through scientific studies in a snap — or at least put on you a path to determining the study's value. Who did the study? Who funded the study? Who controlled the study? How big was the sample size? Who recruited the participants? How? What variables were the findings adjusted for? Why? Did the … Read More
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