Touchstone Newspaper: Basic Staff Principles
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Touchstone Newspaper: Basic Staff Principles

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Touchstone Newspaper: Basic Staff Principles Touchstone Newspaper: Basic Staff Principles Presentation Transcript

  • Basic Journalistic Principles for Staff Writers and Editors Touchstone Newspaper http://www.mvilletouchstone.com © Danielle Travali, 2012
  • The Importance of Original Reporting• There’s a lot of junk on the Web…stuff that’s filled with unverified, non-credible information. Bottom line? There’s a lot of crap out there.• You’ve got to make sure everything you write is original, meaning that YOU researched and published it EXCLUSIVELY in the Touchstone Newspaper.• This is your #1 obligation and key to success as a writer for any publication.
  • What is journalism?• Think “journal”--a daily account of REAL LIFE• An expression of everyday life in realistic, human terms• Writing about an event or issue and helping other people to make sense of it• Today’s journalists not only provide information, but they give people the opportunity to INTERACT! View slide
  • What We Do: InteractiveJournalism for the Web Not your mama’s journalism! View slide
  • What is the point of Touchstone?• The point of Touchstone is to write well- informed, timely, relevant articles to help Manhattanville students live understand more about their campus community and the ethos of its members.
  • Expert-based content• In Touchstone, we expect only the best content because we care about our readers! We want them to find only top- quality articles on our site that capture the essence and voice of our community. The articles should be well- written, appropriate in tone, fun, engaging AND expert- based (for example, when you’re writing about the health benefits of chocolate you’d need to interview and quote a health professional among others).• If you’re not writing an editorial, column or opinion piece, you need to interview and quote other students, Manhattanville professors, and whichever experts may be relevant to the piece you’re writing.
  • Make sure it’s YOUR OWN WORK• Many people are tempted to simply “copy and paste” things they’ve seen elsewhere on the Internet. THIS IS A NO-NO. Not only is it an act of theft, but it is also degrading to you.• Would you want someone to steal your work? How would you feel if someone copied and pasted your ideas and put their name on it?IF YOU ARE USING SOMEONE ELSE’S WORDS OR IDEAS, MAKE SURE YOU CITE IT!
  • What is plagiarism?• Failure to attribute a quotation or work of writing to the person who said it / wrote it• Copying and pasting information from a Web site, book, interview, or any other document and putting it into your article without citing it• Plagiarism is a CRIME• You must ALWAYS be clear when using someone else’s ideas or words by TELLING your audience that these ideas came from that person
  • MOVING ON• …because nobody wants to dwell on the negative • NEXT, WE WILL TALK ABOUT NEWS AND WHAT MAKES SOMETHING NEWSWORTHY. CONTINUE TO THE NEXT SLIDE
  • Being a writer: doing your job effectively …and having fun in what you do!
  • What you need to know about ARTICLE HEADLINES• You should fill headlines with KEYWORDS that people search for (visit GOOGLE TRENDS to see what people are looking for, check out Twitter and Facebook to see what your friends are talking about and writing about). Read the news and be media-savvy! Know what people want to learn about and read about. In this case, it’s college students at Manhattanville, ranging from ages 18-21. Think about the things they want to know.• Online headlines need not be filled with puns—in fact, the more clever and “cute” they get, the less likely it is that people will find them in search engines.
  • MORE about HEADLINES• Headlines should include a verb or action word, e.g. “Mville plans party for winning hockey team.”• Only capitalize the first word of the headline unless you’re using proper nouns (names of specific people, places or official titles). Sample headline: “The president of the United States delivers speech to Manhattanville grads”
  • ORIGINAL SOURCES• Original reporting includes original sources.• Sources are PEOPLE!• Journalism is about PEOPLE—talking to real people and figuring out their take on life. That’s what makes it interesting.
  • How to evaluate your sources
  • What’s a “source”?• Sources are PEOPLE—human beings with pulses and reflexes. Not blow-up dolls, not robots and NOT Wikipedia.• Sources are BOOKS and JOURNALS—published medical, non-fiction books and scholarly articles written by credible professionals (doctors, nurses, therapists, or someone who has spoken to several professionals and cited these people in their references page)
  • Where do I find sources?• The yellow pages (call people and businesses in your local community / town to get interviews!)• The Internet (be careful, though. Visit Government- regulated sites and trusted organizations)• Through friends and family members• Through networking events (get people’s business cards and LinkedIn account information!)• By asking people where you can find reputable sources (talk to librarians, college professors, anyone you consider trustworthy)
  • How can I interview a source?• Face to face (this is easy when you need to interview a fellow student for a profile piece)• Skype (if the student is a commuter and can’t be on campus)• On the phone• Via email• Via Facebook / Twitter or Tweet chats / Blogs• THE BEST WAY to interview someone WILL ALWAYS BE FACE TO FACE! You can’t always trust an email or Facebook interview. How do you know who’s really answering your questions on the other end? You don’t!
  • How to interview someone• Research the person you’re going to interview. Read as much about that person as possible• Write down your questions in advance• Don’t ask “yes” or “no” questions• Be friendly and put yourself in the position of the other person• Write a “thank-you” note after interviewing someone
  • Evaluating a Web site source for credibility• WHO AUTHORED THE SITE?• DOES IT LOOK PROFESSIONAL?• WHEN WAS THE ONLINE SOURCE PUBLISHED?• Is it a .org, .com, .net? WHO IS THE WEBMASTER? Search www.whois.net to find out.• Is the information timely, well-cited and well- researched?• Are there a lot of errors on the page? Misspellings and incorrect punctuation? Bad grammar?
  • How to make your articles fun, unique and engaging HINT: You should have fun reading your own work!
  • Find the best angle• Do your research. If someone on the Web has covered a particular topic in one way, think of another way to look at it. There are hundreds of different angles you can take! Make your story exciting and new. Make it fun!• If someone has written a good article, don’t re-write the same kind of information, but instead, LINK to it! Karma will assure that others will link to your writing if you link to theirs!• And guess what? Karma will also assure that if you steal someone’s writing, someone will eventually steal yours to show you how bad it feels. But if you do good, the good will be returned to you.
  • Interactive Media: What is it?
  • Interactive media includes:• Video (e.g. your own or a shared YouTube video relevant to your article)• Photos and photo galleries (www.vuvox.com, www.slideshare.net)• Audio clips (.wav, .mp3, .aiff)• Text Graphics (e.g. www.wordle.net)• Timelines• Slideshows• Charts / Graphs• Document sharing (www.scribd.com)• Quizzes / polls (www.quibblo.com, PollDaddy)• Maps are useful when pinpointing a location…especially in restaurant, bar or entertainment venue reviews (www.maps.google.com)
  • Interactivity…continued• BOTTOM LINE: Make your articles / columns ENGAGING. People should be able to click on different things—they should WANT to stay on your page!• People want to be able to DO SOMETHING other than read plain text! Let them in on the conversation by giving them a reason to comment.
  • How to make content fun and engaging• Think about how the topic is relevant to people’s lives• Google trends• Facebook• Digg, Technorati, Twitter, TweetChat• Google Groups / Chats
  • Making the content engaging• Shorter paragraphs than something you’d find in a physical newspaper / book / magazine• ONE IDEA per paragraph• Visually pleasing, colorful photos• Slideshows (VUVOX or Slideshare)• Photo galleries• Videos (Embedding YouTube videos into your document)
  • Make it easier for people…• Use bullet points when appropriate• Bold key words and provide links to words people might not understand• Always have a relevant photo
  • Putting your story together• Rich Hanley, director of the graduate journalism program at Quinnipiac University, says to make a “DECISION TREE”:• Outline the focus of the story• Your topic• Your sources• Your ideas• How you’re going to present the information• How you’re going to make it engaging
  • Always ask if you’ve got a question or concern!• Visit the Writing Center at Manhattanville College or consult your editor if you are having trouble with writing or interviewing. Someone will always be able to help you if you are willing to put in the effort.• A special thanks to Marie Shanahan, veteran reporter who taught me all I know about Web journalism. She’s fabulous and must be recognized for her “fabulosity.”• Thanks to Professors Rich Hanley and Kenn Venit for their mentorship and great advice. They’re always teaching me something. Learning is a never-ending process. Remember that.