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Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
Better Stories on Any Platform
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Better Stories on Any Platform

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These are slides for a workshop for the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association.

These are slides for a workshop for the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association.

Published in: News & Politics, Technology
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  • We’ll also discuss the Denver plane crash that Mike Wilson survived and how the media missed an opportunity by not using Twitter.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Better Stories on Any Platform Steve Buttry Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association January 25, 2014 #awnasymposium
    • 2. Saluting a Canadian friend RIP, Bryan Cantley
    • 3. Read more about it • • • • stevebuttry.wordpress.com slideshare.net/stevebuttry @stevebuttry stephenbuttry@gmail.com
    • 4. Plan for this workshop • • • • • • Technology challenges & opportunities Ensuring accuracy Developing story ideas Organizing complex stories Helping reporters improve stories Making every word count
    • 5. Technology challenges? • Tool you’re not using effectively • Something you’ve heard is important but haven’t tried (much) yet (either too busy or don’t understand) • Concerned whether it’s worth the time • Concerned about revenue potential
    • 6. Common challenges • • • • • • • Social media Databases Video Community-submitted content Community blogs Interactive storytelling “Protecting” print
    • 7. Important accuracy advice
    • 8. Path to accuracy • • • • • • • Asking effective questions Taking accurate notes Audio, video recording Gathering documentation Questioning information Verifying information Fact-checking your story
    • 9. Path to accuracy • • • • • • • Asking effective questions Taking accurate notes Audio, video recording Gathering documentation Questioning information Verifying information Fact-checking your story
    • 10. Whose story is it? “If your sources are wrong, you are wrong.” – Judith Miller, former New York Times reporter
    • 11. Whose story is it? “If your sources are wrong, you are wrong.” – Judith Miller, former New York Times reporter Bullshit. Your sources aren’t responsible for the accuracy of your stories. You are. Remember: Even honest sources usually tell you their “semi-true story.”
    • 12. Accuracy questions • How do you know that (reporter asks of source; editor asks of reporter) • How to they know that (reporter & editor ask of paper, digital sources where you can’t ask directly) • How else do you (they) know that?
    • 13. Vetting & verifying • Track back RTs, etc. to source • Look for clusters • Location enabled? • Evaluate the network • Evaluate the history • Links, photos? • Take it old school • Disclose, hedge, repeat • Be brave only in correction Tips from Craig Silverman, Regret the Error
    • 14. Evaluating tweeps • • • • • • How long have they been tweeting? Check previous tweets, interaction Check bio, links Check Klout score Google name and scam, spammer Contact & interview Tips from Mandy Jenkins, Zombie Journalism
    • 15. Use a checklist Craig Silverman: Pilots & doctors use checklists to reduce errors. Why not journalists? (Try Craig’s or mine. Develop your own.)
    • 16. Reporting checklist* Ask sources to spell name & title; then verify what you wrote Record interviews Ask for (& check) source for numbers Ask “how do you know that?” Seek documentation Verify claims w/ reliable sources Save links & other research Ask sources what other reports got wrong * Inspired by Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist
    • 17. Writing checklist* Note facts that need further verification Cut and paste (w/ attribution) quotes from digital documents. * Inspired by Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist
    • 18. Checklist after writing* Numbers & Math Names (check vs. notes & 1 other source) Titles (people, books etc.) Locations Compare quotes to notes/recording Check attribution (insert link for digital source) Definitions * Inspired by Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist
    • 19. Checklist after writing*  Verify URLs (check & check whether cited content is still there)  Phone numbers (call)  Spelling & grammar  Spellchecker errors  Have you assumed anything? (If so, verify, hedge or remove.)  If you have any doubts, recheck w/ original source.  Where your understanding is weak, read final copy (or section) to someone who does understand. * Inspired by Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist
    • 20. One final step Correct any errors you found in your archives, databases or other resources you control (but be certain you have verified the new information). * Inspired by Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist
    • 21. Seek documentation • Ask “How do you know that?” • If answer is document, that’s what you need • Videos, photos (security, archives, public) • Do journals, letters, diaries, emails document actions, thinking, plans? • Government records? Databases?
    • 22. A documentation tale* * with an Alberta angle
    • 23. Your story ideas What story would you like to do (or have a staff member do)? • Enterprise, investigative, feature • Haven’t started work on it yet OR • Struggling with it • No big scoops you can’t share here
    • 24. Developing story ideas • • • • • • • Write at the idea stage Make ideas timely, specific, relevant Consider context National comparison or local impact Brainstorm avenues of inquiry Brainstorm digital tools to use Be open to the joy of discovery
    • 25. Brainstorm a story idea • Choose a story one group member wants to do • Brainstorm avenues of inquiry • Considerations: Timely, specific, relevant, national vs. local • Brainstorm digital tools
    • 26. Storytelling Start to Finish Steve Buttry Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association January 25, 2014 #betterstories
    • 27. Saluting a Canadian friend RIP, Bryan Cantley
    • 28. Read more about it • • • • stevebuttry.wordpress.com slideshare.net/stevebuttry @stevebuttry stephenbuttry@gmail.com
    • 29. Plan for this workshop • • • • • • Technology challenges & opportunities Ensuring accuracy Developing story ideas Organizing complex stories Helping reporters improve stories Making every word count
    • 30. Organizing complex stories • Think of story as a process, not necessarily a product • Ask “what’s the story about?” • Write as you report • Consider structure (text, images, print & digital) • Outline notes & materials • Write without notes
    • 31. Driving questions • • • • • • Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
    • 32. Questions & story elements • • • • • • Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? • • • • • • Character Plot, action Setting Setting, scene Theme, conflict Resolution
    • 33. Other driving questions • • • • How much? What happened? So what? What’s next?
    • 34. Other driving questions • How much? • What happened? • So what? • What’s next? Verification: How do you know that?
    • 35. Consider digital tools • Videos • Photos (galleries & with sound) • Data (data viz & interactive databases) • Timelines (Timeline JS or Dipity) • Maps (Google, Crowdmap) • Curation (Spundge, Storify, RebelMouse, Newspeg) • Interactive (quiz, Prezi, Thinglink • NewHive, Scrollkit
    • 36. Inverted pyramid Image from Wikipedia
    • 37. Martini glass • Inverted pyramid top • Olive intrigues, starts narrative • Narrative • Strong ending Image from drinksmixer.com, term from Don Fry
    • 38. Narrative arc Image from J-Storytelling.com
    • 39. Other story structures • List • Liveblog • Tweet (or series of tweets) • Video • Q&A • Timeline • • • • • • • Audio w/ slides Series Serial narrative Sidebar Graphic Animation Map
    • 40. It’s not your story • Reporter learns more by doing the work • Reporter has what you need to make the story better • Editor improves story better through good questions & challenges than in editing the reporter’s words
    • 41. Learn how reporter works • Improving writer’s processes improves a writer’s story • Share this writing advice from William Forrester:
    • 42. Help the reporter focus • • • • • What’s the story about? (6 words) Write a headline 3 words: subject, verb, object Tell someone about the story Summarize story in a tweet
    • 43. SEO can help focus • What would you type in Google if you had questions this story would answer? • Can you write a good lead or nut graf around the search term(s)?
    • 44. Challenge the story • What shouldn’t be in the story (or at least the main story or text story)? • What digital tools can help organize & tell this story (or part of it)? • What’s the most important W? • What’s best story element? • Should this be a narrative (doesn’t have to be long)?
    • 45. Plan to write tight • • • • Discuss scope, focus Consider reader (ask) Make stories useful Break story up (video, sidebar, chart, timeline, database, etc.)
    • 46. Watch for the suitcase lead After spending Wednesday morning at a prestigious think tank discussing a report about what could happen in the aftermath of a catastrophic terrorist attack on Congress, then taking nearly two hours at the White House presenting the report to Vice President Dick Cheney, University of Miami president Donna Shalala addressed the issue capturing the attention of thousands across the nation – conference realignment in college sports. (66 words, Miami Herald)
    • 47. Watch for the suitcase lead Jerry Falwell, 73, a Southern Baptist preacher who as founder and president of the Moral Majority presided over a marriage of Christian beliefs and conservative political values – a bond that bore prodigious fruit for the Republican Party during the past quarter-century – died May 15 of congestive heart failure after he was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (65 words, Washington Post)
    • 48. Challenge suitcase leads Several organized crime figures have been arrested as part of a federal investigation into a series of unsolved crimes, including the 1978 Lufthansa robbery at Kennedy International Airport, according to a racketeering indictment unsealed Thursday morning. (36 words, NY Times in National Post yesterday)
    • 49. Challenge suitcase leads A private seniors’ residence that burned down in L’Isle Verte early Thursday morning – killing at least three people, with 30 other unaccounted for – was found to be in violation of fire-code regulations during a 2011 inspection, The Gazette has learned. (40 words, Postmedia News in National Post yesterday)
    • 50. Challenge suitcase leads A private seniors’ residence that burned down in L’Isle Verte early Thursday morning – killing at least three people, with 30 other unaccounted for – was found to be in violation of fire-code regulations during a 2011 inspection, The Gazette has learned. (40 words, Postmedia News in National Post yesterday)
    • 51. Lighten the load A private seniors’ residence that burned down in L’Isle Verte early Thursday morning failed a 2011 fire inspection. (18 words)
    • 52. Ways to lighten the load • • • • • • • Make just one point Look for words, phrases that can wait Change comma to period Eliminate parenthetical phrases Explanation can wait Subtract numbers Can attribution wait?
    • 53. Consider a g-string lead
    • 54. Consider a g-string lead Nothing falls quite as quickly as a loonie caught in the cross hairs. (Gordon Isfeld, Financial Post, in National Post yesterday)
    • 55. Consider a g-string lead Bruce Dale answered the phone after the third ring. (Joe O’Connor, National Post yesterday)
    • 56. Instead of a suitcase lead … Several organized crime figures have been arrested as part of a federal investigation into a series of unsolved crimes, including the 1978 Lufthansa robbery at Kennedy International Airport, according to a racketeering indictment unsealed Thursday morning. (36 words, NY Times in National Post yesterday)
    • 57. … consider a g-string lead Feds have finally charged a mob figure in the 1978 heist made famous in the movie “Goodfellas.”
    • 58. Consider a g-string lead
    • 59. G-string lead can be serious Jennifer’s tiny heart gave up. But no one else would.
    • 60. G-string lead can be serious Forty seconds, five lives.
    • 61. Issues with g-string leads • Keywords in leads help with SEO. Can you write g-string lead w/ keyword? • If not, be sure web headline uses keywords (head is more important). • G-string lead on great story can increase social sharing.
    • 62. Try a simple sentence
    • 63. Try a simple sentence In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
    • 64. A rule and a guideline: The rule: If your lead is over 30 words, explain to your editor why it’s so good that it needs to be that long. The guideline: If your lead won’t fit in a tweet, try rewriting.
    • 65. Some long leads work When the crime was committed, when four girls lay blasted to death in the shattered basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church, Bobby Frank Cherry was young and strong and confident that his world, one of white robes and closed minds, would turn forever. (Rick Bragg, 44 words)
    • 66. Perfect use of a long lead Selma Koch, a Manhattan store owner who earned a national reputation by helping women find the right bra size, mostly through a discerning glance and never with a tape measure, died Thursday at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
    • 67. Perfect use of a long lead Selma Koch, a Manhattan store owner who earned a national reputation by helping women find the right bra size, mostly through a discerning glance and never with a tape measure, died Thursday at Mount Sinai Medical Center. She was 95 and a 34B. (Douglas Martin, NY Times)
    • 68. Challenge the simple lead
    • 69. Challenge the simple lead First of all, God made everything.
    • 70. Rewrite with your head • • • • • • Read aloud Know your weaknesses Challenge verbs Challenge imprecise words Consider attribution Challenge phrases
    • 71. Rewrite with your head • • • • • • Challenge inflated words Challenge quotes Watch for echo quotes Redundant words, facts Say what is, not what isn’t What’s the story about?
    • 72. Challenge vague phrases It was shortly after midnight Thursday when Francine Boucher’s husband woke her, yelling that the seniors’ residence across the street was on fire. (National Post yesterday)
    • 73. Give “it” up It is one of the weakest ways you can start a story. It has a pronoun with no antecedent. It has the weakest verb in the English language. It seems some writers can’t resist it. It’s used way too much. It is a lead that starts with “it is,” “it’s” or simply “it.”
    • 74. Challenge vague phrases It was shortly after midnight Thursday when Francine Boucher’s husband woke her, yelling that the seniors’ residence across the street was on fire. (National Post yesterday)
    • 75. Challenge vague phrases Shortly after midnight Thursday Francine Boucher’s husband woke her, yelling that the seniors’ residence across the street was on fire. (National Post yesterday)
    • 76. There are better leads There is no weaker verb in the English language than the verb “to be” – is, was, are, etc. There’s no vaguer word than “there” when you’re not pointing. There are few weaker ways to start your story. There are few “there are” leads that don’t get tighter and stronger when you challenge them.
    • 77. No arbitrary rules If you write a lead this good, leave the “it was” alone:
    • 78. No arbitrary rules If you write a lead this good, leave the “it was” alone: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
    • 79. No arbitrary rules If you write a passage this good, leave the “there is” alone:
    • 80. No arbitrary rules Don’t rewrite by arbitrary rules. If you write a passage this good, leave the “there is” alone: There is no joy in Mudville.
    • 81. Make Every Word Count The right word makes all the difference.

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