How to Use a BNW Brown Bag

Brownbag: newsroom jargon for an in-house training session

A Best Newspaper Writing Brown Bag is a blueprint for a newsroom conversation on the craft of reporting and writing. It provides everything journalists need for a balanced meal:

Main course: an award-winning story, column, editorial, or other collection.

Side dish:
introduction and analysis by a Poynter faculty member.

Dessert:
inspiration from American Society of Newspaper Editors Writing Award winners, gleaned from their interviews in Best Newspaper Writing.

Beverage:
Talking Points and Assignment Desk suggestions that can guide the discussion or the steps needed to take your writing and editing to the next level.


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How to use a Best Newspaper Writing Brown Bag

In a newsroom or classroom:



  1. Schedule a Brown Bag session.

  2. Distribute copies in advance. (All Brown Bags are available as PDF files, so they’re easy to print out.)

  3. Use the content — award-winning journalism, interview excerpts and analysis — as the starting point for a conversation.

  4. You might begin by asking participants three questions:
    • What surprised you about the material?
    • What did you learn from reading the material?
    • What do you need to learn next to get better at your craft?

  5. Invite the participants to do one or more of the Assignment Desk exercises. Ask them to share what they’ve written, either with another participant or with the whole group.
On your own:

  1. Read the material.

  2. Do one or more of the Talking Points and Assignment Desk exercises.

  3. Ask yourself three questions about it:
    • What surprised you about the material?
    • What did you learn from reading the material?
    • What do you need to learn next to get better at your craft?

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