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Coffee Break Course

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

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
NEWS

9 ways to review and revise your writing

It's easy to equate revision with failure. “If I knew what I were doing, I'd get it right the first time,” many writers think. Revision is the best friend a writer can have. The trick is to use revision as a tool to make your writing clearer, sharper and more powerful. Here are some approaches to revising your work: Write … Read More
NEWS

Five ways to get readers talking and posting on social media

For many content creators, social media offer ideal platforms to drive two-way communication — through discussion and debate around news and current events and through encouraging readers to share a wide range of viewpoints by creating and posting their own comments, op-eds, photo and videos. Here are some ways you can motivate readers to get involved in a two-way conversation, … Read More
NEWS

7 tips for conducting better interviews with scientists

Sources make — or break — stories. Reliable sources can become journalists' guides into complicated stories and help them build credibility among subject matter experts. Here are some guidelines to conducting interviews with scientists that can help you gather accurate information and cultivate relationships with reliable sources. Preparation is essential: Science interviews shouldn't be cold calls. Take 15 minutes before … Read More
NEWS

It's or its? How to use apostrophes with contractions

Apostrophes can be used in a couple of ways. With contractions, use apostrophes to indicate that letters are missing. When two words are written in shortened form, use an apostrophe to show that some letters are missing: I've, it's, don't, rock 'n' roll, 'tis the season to be jolly. He is a ne'er-do-well. Also use an apostrophe to mark missing … Read More
NEWS

How to sound natural when reading your audio story

Much as written music is meant to be performed, audio stories are meant to be spoken. On paper, an audio story exists in two dimensions. The voice adds emotion, texture and nuance. What's on the page might feel choppy or staccato. Voicing can provide polish and rhythm. In fact, radio writing isn’t always beautiful when it’s read on the page. Read More
NEWS

3 ways to use graphics in your storytelling

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. Graphics go where cameras can't--into human cells or millions of miles into space. Sometimes graphics can be a story's primary medium, supported by other media. Here are some general guidelines for graphics: You can make … Read More
NEWS

How to report on trends in opinion polling

Poynter has just launched a new course on polls and surveys in partnership with three international opinion research organizations. Thanks to the support of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the World Association for Social, Opinion and Market Research (ESOMAR) and the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), this course is free of … Read More
NEWS

How to focus your reporting while working on an investigation

Working on investigative reports is different from daily reporting. These tips will help you hone your focus in your initial reporting. Before you start reporting: If you are working with another reporter, set up a system for collaborating. This might involve in-person meetings and/or a digital tool. If you are using a database or databases to compile information for … Read More
NEWS

Why it matters where you place modifiers in a sentence

Location is key with modifiers — those words or phrases that describe something in your sentence. Put them in the wrong spot and the sentence is unclear or, worse, inaccurate. Here are some common problems: Dangling Modifiers You'll run into this when you start a sentence with a phrase. Make sure the beginning phrase matches the subject of the sentence. Read More
NEWS

Florida's sunshine laws: Ethics

The main purpose of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees in the state of Florida is to promote the public interest and maintain public respect for government. Under the code, public officials must be independent and impartial and must refrain from using public office for private gain. The ethics laws generally consist of two types of provisions: … Read More
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