Telling Your Story and Making the News


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Whether you are writing an article for your local newspaper or creating a newsletter for your FFA chapter, you will need to ask yourself, “What makes a good story?” and “What is the best way to tell it?” This workshop will cover the steps for writing a good article from brainstorming and researching your topic, to interviewing sources, to writing and revising your first draft, to publishing a finished article. By the end of this workshop, you will have a better understanding of the news and how you can make it.

This presentation was for the Virginia FFA Convention on June 29, 2011.

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Telling Your Story and Making the News

  1. 1. June 28, 2011<br />Telling Your Story and Making the News<br />Michael Sutphin, Writer, @michaelsutphin<br />Lori Greiner, Communications Manager, @lgreiner<br />
  2. 2. Overview<br />How can I make the news?<br />What makes a good story?<br />How can I tell it?<br />2<br />
  3. 3. What is the news?<br />Timely, immediate – not history<br />Affects many people in some way<br />Innovative or interesting<br />What journalists decide as news<br />3<br />
  4. 4. Sources of news<br />Word of mouth<br />Print<br />Broadcast<br />Web<br />Social media<br />4<br />
  5. 5. Making the news<br />News releases<br />Pitches<br />Reporter queries<br />Newsletters and magazines<br />Multimedia<br />Social media and blogs<br />5<br />
  6. 6. What is newsworthy?<br />6<br />
  7. 7. What is newsworthy?<br />Timeliness<br />Proximity<br />Impact<br />Prominence<br />Novelty<br />Conflict<br />Human interest<br />7<br />
  8. 8. Why write?<br />8<br />Keep a record<br />Organize thoughts<br />Express creativity<br />Share ideas<br />Persuade others<br />
  9. 9. The writing process<br />Brainstorming<br />Prewriting<br />Drafting<br />Revising<br />Editing<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Step 1: Brainstorming<br />List topics that come to mind.<br />Draw a map with your main topic in the middle and other topics radiating from it.<br />Create an outline.<br />Work as a group or share ideas with others.<br />10<br />
  11. 11. Step 2: Prewriting<br />prewriting<br />—noun<br />Preparatory work for a piece of writing, as idea formulation, an outline, or research.<br />(Random House Dictionary, 2009)<br />11<br />
  12. 12. Who is your audience?<br />12<br />
  13. 13. Background research<br />Archived news<br />Documents<br />Websites<br />Friends and contacts<br />Google<br />13<br />
  14. 14. Interviewing<br />Be polite.<br />Explain the purpose of the interview.<br />Make it a conversation.<br />Ask follow-up questions.<br />Take good notes.<br />14<br />
  15. 15. Step 3: Drafting<br />15<br />Photo courtesy of KrissSzkurlatowski<br />
  16. 16. The six questions<br />Who?<br />What?<br />Where?<br />When?<br />Why?<br />How?<br />16<br />
  17. 17. Activity: The inverted pyramid<br />17<br />
  18. 18. Writing a good lead<br />Informative<br />Concise<br />Creative<br />Attention-grabbing<br />18<br />
  19. 19. Ways to open a story<br />Summary<br />Picture<br />Background<br />Contrast<br />Quotation<br />19<br />
  20. 20. Bad leads<br />Buried<br />Wordy<br />Dense<br />Uninformative<br />Dull<br />20<br />
  21. 21. Direct vs. indirect quotes<br />“This year’s FFA Convention will give hundreds of Virginia students a chance to share their passion for agriculture,” said Wes Kline, president of Virginia FFA.<br />Wes Kline, president of Virginia FFA, explained that the 2011 convention will help more than 2,000 Virginia youth better understand agriculture in the commonwealth.<br />21<br />
  22. 22. Article length<br />22<br />
  23. 23. Headlines<br />23<br />
  24. 24. Step 4: Revising<br />“The difference between the right and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug.”<br />—Mark Twain<br />“Half my life is an act of revision.”<br />—John Irving<br />24<br />
  25. 25. Step 5: Editing<br />25<br />Photo courtesy of Jan Verbist<br />
  26. 26. Style<br />Question: What is the single most important element of writing style?<br />26<br />
  27. 27. Style<br />Answer: Consistency<br />27<br />
  28. 28. Common mistakes<br />Passive voice<br />Too many prepositional phrases<br />Mixed tenses<br />Dangling modifier<br />Redundancy<br />Non-agreement<br />Careless repetition<br />Mixed construction<br />28<br />
  29. 29. Keys to success<br />Write about what you know.<br />Tell your story.<br />Do your research.<br />Ask questions.<br />Stay focused.<br />Think outside the box.<br />29<br />
  30. 30. Questions?<br />30<br />