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Coffee Break Course

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

NEWS

Look for these 6 red flags before sharing social media

Social media can be rife with misinformation. Before you share a Facebook post or use other social media in your reporting, here are some red flags to watch out for: Too good or too horrible to be true Extremely precise/extremely broad Misspellings and bad grammar Audio doesn’t match video Unattributed research Designed to scare or anger Taken from Fact-checking: … Read More
NEWS

5 ways to fact-check data sets

Fact-checkers, and all journalists, rely on data. But before you use the data to fact-check a claim or include in a story, it is essential to fact-check the data set itself. Treat data sets like all other sources. No source should be trusted blindly. Just as you verify statements made by people you interview, check the track record of the … Read More
NEWS

9 questions to help you evaluate the credibility of news sources

Whether you're covering the news or reading/watching/hearing it, the credibility of your sources is key to evaluating the information. Do you trust the sources? Are there enough sources? Enough knowledgeable sources? Are all the questions answered? Is the news credible enough? Here are questions you should ask in evaluating the sources used in information you read, see and hear: Who … Read More
NEWS

In covering election polls, watch these 3 terms

Determining which candidate is "ahead" is the most visible and potentially dangerous element to report in any election polls. Public opinion can change quickly and dramatically. Here are some areas where journalists should focus their attention when reporting on polls that compare voting intention: Margin of sampling error: You hear or read statements such as, “Candidate A leads Candidate B … Read More
NEWS

How to choose between 'that' and 'which' in your writing

The rules of grammar can seem complicated and rigid, but they will help you keep your writing clear and tell a story effectively. When the language is muddled, readers may get confused and quit reading. Here are guidelines for choosing between that and which in a sentence. The rule: Use which for clauses that offer incidental information; use that for … Read More
NEWS

10 ways to engage readers with alternative story forms

Non-traditional news story forms go by many names: charticles, non-narratives, storytelling devices, alternative story forms, ASFs and alts, among others. Some stand alone as a story, and some are supplemental: forms that clarify, complement and explain information in a traditional news story. Here's a look at some supplemental forms, with tips on how to use them effectively. If You Go: … Read More
NEWS

How to find that break-your-heart detail for your story

Every conversation and moment in your reporting process can yield powerful details that guide you to the heart of your story. Here are two ways veteran journalism Diana K. Sugg suggests to search for the clues that lead you to the "sacred moment" in journalism--when you discover what your story is really about. Constantly scan the beat. Read the email, … Read More
NEWS

Questions to ask when covering poll results

Journalists are constantly bombarded with data from polls, particularly as election day approaches. Here are some questions you should ask as you're covering the numbers: Who conducted the poll? Who sponsored or paid for the poll? How many people were surveyed and what's the margin of error? Who are respondents (registered voters, likely voters, state residents, etc.)? When was the … Read More
NEWS

Which is best? Who or whom?

The rules of grammar can seem complicated and rigid, but they will help you keep your writing clear and tell a story effectively. When the language is muddled, readers may get confused and have trouble understanding your story. Even worse, they may quit reading. Here's some help when you are unsure whether to use who or whom in a sentence. Read More
NEWS

How the basics of storytelling can help you cover a big event

Great writers get ready for the big story, even if they don't quite know what the story will be.  They report and report and research and then report some more. They expect the unexpected. And then they write powerful stories. Here are some tactics to guide you on the big story. Stick with the basics of telling a story: beginning, … Read More
NEWS

4 ways to create a compelling video story

Telling a story across platforms? Think about all the platforms you will be using (TV, online, mobile, print) before and during the reporting process. You're looking for opportunities to broaden a story or topic beyond the one angle or element you’re covering for a single platform. While you gather information for all platforms, you will approach a story differently for … Read More
NEWS

5 guidelines for writing about poll numbers

Reporting on polls or survey results is similar to reporting on any other news story: It requires attention to the same principles of journalism, such as always reporting with precision and without bias. In addition, journalists need to make the results understandable and intelligible for an audience that may have little statistical training. Here are some do's and don'ts for … Read More
NEWS

3 ways to find and fix mistakes in your writing

In the crush of deadline, it's easy for mistakes to creep into your writing. Even more, errors can happen at any point in the process. Whether you're writing a tweet, a breaking news story, an email or a book, here are some ways to find and fix those mistakes before you hit send. Pick out and highlight the who, what, … Read More
NEWS

How to tell news from advertising, publicity and more

Sorting through a daily flood of information to find news can present quite a challenge. Information can appear in print, on a website, in an audio or video package or on social media. Investigative reports, entertainment, propaganda and advertising can be presented in feature-length films. Here are some ways to put information into meaningful categories that will help you make … Read More
NEWS

How to encourage audience-first thinking

Audience engagement goes beyond traditional journalism to create an environment for listening to your community, sharing meaningful stories and responding to people's questions, wants and needs. Here are some ways to create room for engagement and audience-first thinking in your organization. Start small. Embrace a culture of learning (failure = not learning). Create space for a sandbox and protect that … Read More
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