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Coffee Break Course

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

NEWS

4 guidelines for writing about climate change

The climate story has moved beyond science and is increasingly local. It touches communities and coverage in new ways every day. As you cover the topic in your area, here are some guidelines for your reporting. Do not conflate science and policy. They are separate things. Science informs policymaking but it does not dictate what policies should be chosen. Read More
NEWS

9 questions for your credibility checklist

When you publish content, whether it's a news story, blog item, tweet or Facebook post, your credibility is at stake. To ensure what you publish is fair, accurate and complete, ask the following questions: Who else do you need to talk to? Does this make sense? What’s missing? Have you kept opinion out of the information—or clearly labeled it as … Read More
NEWS

5 tips for video interviews

Seeing, for many viewers, is believing. But to really “understand” requires explanation and context. That is a key role journalists fill. When you're interviewing a person, you want to capture more than the interview. Here are some tips for b-roll and other ways to add context to your story. Capture as much video of a person as you can before … Read More
NEWS

2 ways to tell stories with polls

Writing about polls or survey results is similar to writing about any news story: It requires attention to the same principles of journalism, such as always reporting with precision and without bias, as well as providing context and looking for the deeper story. Dig Deep — Look at Sub-Groups and Follow-Up Questions Often, the best story can be found by … Read More
NEWS

How to tell an audio story without narration

Standard audio stories have a host introduction, narration, voice tracks and actualities (such as natural sound). But you can also use non-narrated pieces, stories that don't include the reporter's voice or storytelling. Non-narrated pieces aren’t usual, but they can be effective when paired with the right story. These stories can take several forms. First-person essays. This works well for commentaries, … Read More
NEWS

How to make routine stories memorable

Stories that reveal system failures or expose abuses of power are important to your audience. But they can seem dry or boring because they tend to be driven by data. The data builds the skeleton of a story, revealing patterns and subplots. But the heart of the story comes from the people whom the data helps you find. The key … Read More
NEWS

3 ways typography can create design contrasts

Contrast helps to create focal points on a page and a hierarchy for what readers will see first.  Here are several ways to create contrast in your design. Contrast of Size. The largest headline on a page will draw the reader’s attention first, creating a hierarchy of size that moves the reader from the most important stories to the lesser. Read More
NEWS

5 ways to proofread your writing

Mistakes can lurk in your writing, whether it's a story, article, blurb, e-book, caption, tweet, menu, flier, Facebook status, blog post, script, advertisement, graphic novel, comic, brochure, editorial, email, manifesto, letter, birthday card, bumper sticker, wedding invitation, classified ad or graffiti. One cause of errors: You tend to read (or edit) with your memory rather than to actively read what's … Read More
NEWS

How to choose the best multimedia elements for your story

As you plan your multimedia story, you have to decide which tools would best tell each part of the story. Here are some guidelines for choosing different media. Still photos are the best medium for emphasizing a strong emotion, for staying with an important point in a story or for creating a particular mood. They’re often more dramatic and … Read More
NEWS

9 approaches to fact-checking and verification

Tools and technologies play a key role in verification. But traditional journalistic approaches remain essential. Be skeptical of everything that crosses your path, guard against assumptions and work with colleagues to bring fresh eyes to what you find. Here are some verification practices to apply: Develop human sources Be skeptical when something sounds too good to be true Consult credible … Read More
NEWS

9 questions that help you verify information

If you're publishing content, you have a responsibility to verify your information before you share it with others. But you don't have to be cynical and assume everything is wrong. Try being skeptical instead. Skepticism leads to better questions. It is the product of curiosity and critical thinking. Some of the best questions to ask before publishing information include: How … Read More
NEWS

Some guidelines for using semicolons

Punctuation helps a reader understand your story. Commas, periods, dashes and other marks convey the writer's voice. They signal an emphasis or tone in language, as well as telling a reader when to stop or pause. Think of punctuation this way: The comma is a slight break in the thought of a sentence; the semicolon is a longer pause; and … Read More
NEWS

Want a strong ending to your story? Here are 3 tips

The start of your story hooks a reader, but the ending is what leaves an impression. It deserves as much attention as your opening. Here are three strategies from columnist Leonard Pitts for writing powerful kickers. End with a twist. Give readers a surprise, and take them in a direction they didn't expect. End with a quote. A great closing … Read More
NEWS

6 hybrid story forms that engage readers

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. And some can either stand alone or complement the story. Here are some hybrid forms, with tips on … Read More
NEWS

4 ways managers can invest their time wisely

In any organization, time is the most precious resource of all. Here are ways a manager can save time by investing it wisely with their staff. Make it clear to your staff what you want and expect from them. Give feedback on how their work is going. Get people involved early and reinforce your expectations often. You'll spend less time … Read More
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