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.

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Deciphering “News” (and our roles as journalists)

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