• Good journalists have a nose of news. They work hard to ‘sniff out’ original stories and find the facts of the events they are assigned to cover• News is createdWhat is news?
• Know their audience• Understand what makes a strong news story• Recognize the best angle• Avoid repeating press releases verbatimWhat is news?Good journalists strive to:
• News is what is extraordinary, interesting and not known. [Gillian Hargreaves, BBC reporter]• News is an account of a current idea, event, or problem that interests people. [Campbell & Wolseley]• News is a timely report of facts or opinions that hold interest or importance, or both, for a considerable number of people. [Mitchell V. Charnley]What is news?
• A report• Ideas, events, and problems• News is real• News is current• News interests people• News elements: timeliness, nearness, size, importance, personal benefit, policy, journalistic treatment, and space allocation.What is news?
• Hard news• Soft newsWhat is news?
• Frequency or time span• Meaning• Significance• Clarity• Closeness to home• Consonance or predictability• The unexpected or rare• Continuity• Composition• Concentration on elite nations and individuals• Person-centred• NegativityWhat is news?Johan Galtung & Mari Ruge- factors important to news gatherers when deciding what’snews
• Others• The law• Work routines• Financial controlWhat is news?Johan Galtung & Mari Ruge- factors important to news gatherers when deciding what’snews
Good writers make it easy for their readers by using: - everyday words - short, simply structured sentences - active verbs - anecdotes and quotesTelling the story- grammar and style
• Think clearly – you have to know what the story is and then tell it in the most direct and succinct manner.• Language must be appropriate for the audiencePutting the messageacross…
• Be clear about what you want to say• Say it with everyday words• Use simple sentences• Use short paragraphs• Use verbs in the active voice• Report details, draw a picture with words• Use a style that is natural to you• Keep adjectives to the minimum• Use strong quotes close to the beginning of the story• Avoid clichés as far as possible.• Don’t repeat words• Don’t bury your quotes• Don’t use ‘officialese’Good Writing: some rules
• Focus on the strongest angle• Write an intro that attracts the reader• Set out facts faithfully and lucidly• Structure the story to encourage reading• Use the most compelling quotes early on.Structuring the story
Good interviewers are easy to trust and can put people attheir ease. When conducting an interview they:- Have a clear idea of its purpose- Prepare carefully and consider lines of questioning- Interview rigorously but fairly- Remain well mannered at all timesEffective Interviewing
• Interviewing successfully is one of the great arts of reporting and a sure way to a good story.• In broadcast news, the interview has become a form of packaged news itself.• Its question and answer style has the advantage of giving a journalist an opportunity to explore issues in greater depth.Effective InterviewingHow important?
• It is a conversation with a source• It isnt just an informal chat• The source has an important information, so an interview is meant to get it, by getting the source to tell youEffective InterviewingWhat exactly is aninterview?
• The informational interview• The expositional interview• The interpretative interviewEffective InterviewingTypes of Interviewing
• First, check the library clippings for stories relevant to the interview• Think about what you want from the interview• Think of lines of questioning which may elicit memorable quotes or anecdotes or other evidences from the source• You may prepare a list of questions beforehand but you don’t have to follow it slavishly• If the subject is a sensitive issue prepare beforehand for the most probable attitude from your sourceHow to prepare for aninterview?
• First impressions• Simple is not stupid• Use lots of open questions to draw out the information• The less threatening you can be the better even if the source seems unwillingly or unruly• Don’t open with challenging or sensitive questions• Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult or tough questions when the time comes• Strive to get good quotes. This brings the human element and animate a story• Silence can be goldenThe interview
Make sure to note:- Why the news conference was called- The main points being made by the speaker/speakers- The consequences of the news conference- The names and job titles of the speakers- The best quotes (strict accuracy is essential here)- Any good points to come out of the follow-up asked by reporters.Covering newsconferences
• Is one of the hardest part of your job• It involves going uninvited to someone’s house or waiting outside a restaurant, cinema, or court in the hope of getting a few comments from the source• Public figures are used to this but ordinary people who have been caught in a news story should be handled carefully.Door stepping
• Telephone interviews• E-mail or submitted question interviewsothers
• ‘off-record’• keep whatever promise made to the source• Protect and minimize harm to the sourceEthical issues
Good journalists know how to dig out information. Theydon’t wait to be given stories, they go looking for them.They- Have excellent contacts- Will not accept information in press releases, leaks or tip- offs at face value, but will always seek to verify it- Know where to find and how to use reference books, records and reports- Can interpret and analyze figuresFinding the news
• There’s no such thing as a story. Stories don’t exist they happen.• A story is an event, not an object. It exists in time and space. It’s a performance by the giver and an experience for those receiving it.• Tell journalistic stories much like other stories.Reporting as “story”
• Every real story has a setting, a place where it happens and a combination of circumstances that provides its context.• Every real story has one or more characters, with some being major players and some playing bit parts.• Every real story has some sort of complication that occurs, triggering the chain of events that makes the story more than just simple description.Reporting as “story”
• Every real story puts its character through a process of responding to this complication as they try to resolve the problem or conflict, take advantage of the opportunity or achieve their goal.• Every real story brings this process to a resolution, happy or otherwise.Reporting as “story”
• And every real story includes some sort of closure that looks into the future or provides meaning.• The reporter’s shopping list:- Setting – where and when- Characters - who- Complication – what and why- Process of responding/resolving – what (happened)- Resolution - How- Closure – so what?Reporting as “story”
• There’s a difference between story and myth• Report only as much of the story as you’ve really gathered• The story you are telling is often the story of being told things by other peopleStory as Trap
Treat any story, be it for printor broadcast, as a story tobe told, and read your draftout loud to test how well itworks.
Attribute meticulously.Remember, your story isoften about people tellingstories of their own. Don’tfall into retelling thosestories as though they werefacts.
Read broadly with a criticaleye for how the story isbeing told.
Listen with ear that’s hungryto study how peopleinstinctively tell theirstories.
Tell stories yourself, and tellthem as real stories, nomatter to whom, no matterwhy, no matter about what.
• Harper, C. and The Indiana group.(1998). Journalism 2001. Madison: CourseWise Publishing Inc. (www.coursewise.com)• Campbell, R.L. and Wolseley, R.E. (1961). How to report and write the news. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.• Dennis, E.E. and Ismach, H.A. (1981). Reporting Processes and Practices: Newswriting for Today’s readers. California: Wadsworth Pub. Co.• Sissons, H. (2006). Practical Journalism: How to write News. London: Sage Publications.references
Jimi KayodeJournalism DepartmentAdebola Adegunwa School of Communication,Lagos State University,Lagos, Nigeria.