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Deciphering “News” (and our roles as journalists)

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Introductory lecture for digital journalism class where most students have not had a basic reporting class.

Introductory lecture for digital journalism class where most students have not had a basic reporting class.

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  • 1. COM466 – 4 Apr 2011
    Deciphering “News” (and our roles as digital journalists)
  • 2. From Poynter - NewsU Tutorial
    Prominence
    Importance
    Human Interest
    Timeliness
    Proximity
    Meaning
  • 3. The 5Ws+H
    Who
    What
    When
    Where
    Why
    How
  • 4. Other Considerations
    Controversy/Conflict
    Usefulness
    Emotion
    Impact
    Educational Value (“civic journalism”)
  • 5. Check It Out : Newsworthiness
    KING5: Willie Greens …
    What elements of this story are told “best” through images? Sound?
    CNN: Was your fish dinner…
    What elements of this story are told “best” through images? Sound?
    WaPo: Fact Checker …
    What elements of this story are told “best” through text?
  • 6. Verification
    Direct observation (the reporter was there)
    Who said? (the reporter interviewed someone)
    Challenge: most stories quote government officials, “expert” counterparts
    Who said? (the reporter accessed public databases, documents)
  • 7. Verification Exercise
    You read this on Twitter or Facebook: “RT @yourBFF: OMG. There’s been a 7.1 earthquake in SF!”
    What do you do?
    RT/share based on trust of source
    RT/share only after verifying
    How might you verify?
    Why would the comment be more credible with a link included? Why might it not be a good practice to RT/share without checking the link (if it were there)?
  • 8. Clarification
    Ask questions in order to simplify, put a fact/idea/event into context
    Tell more more about …
    What happened next?
    Who else was involved?
    No “closed ended” questions!
    Rephrase what you think you heard to get confirmation from your expert
  • 9. Four Big Tasks
    Invite (lede/lead)
    Inform (the hook/what’s in it for the reader)
    Illuminate (your evidence)
    Connect (context)
  • 10.
  • 11. Judgment
    Journalism requires interpretation, judgment
    “News” could be a stock quote or today’s temperature, but without context, it’s just data
    In other words, we need facts but facts alone are not “journalism”
  • 12. A Bit More On Context
    What might be important to us as the UW community might not be important to everyone in Seattle
    But what’s important in Olympia might be important to everyone in the state
    Providing that context is a key part of a journalist’s responsibility
  • 13. Thinking About Audience
    Assume: Microsoft just announced it’s laying off 3K employees, one/third in Seattle area
    How might this be reported in the WSJ?
    How might this be reported in the Seattle Times?
    How might this be reported on GeekWire?
    How might it be reported in the London Guardian?
    What questions do you have that will contextualize this “fact” for your audience?
  • 14. Accuracy
    AKA “getting it right”
    Spelling (especially proper names – spell check doesn’t always help here)
    Grammar
    Facts
    What else?
  • 15. Simplicity
    AKA not talking over their heads!
    “At this point in time, the current levels of societal tension are enough to create a high degree of anxiety among citizens of every persuasion and every economic and cultural class.”versus
    “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
    From http://www.jprof.com/wfmm7/chapter1.html
  • 16. Your Check List
    Working in small groups, develop a checklist for evaluating the “news” that crosses your computer screen
  • 17. Credits
    Kathy E Gill
    @kegill, @kegill_uw
    http://wiredpen.com
    http://faculty.uw.edu/kegill
    Creative Commons: share-and-share alike, non-commercial, attribution