Ask Away!

When it comes to getting a good story, you need good sources. There is almost nothing better than a direct quote from someone who has experience in the field of subject you are writing on. It is for this reason that you should be able to conduct proper interviews. Interviews require prior work and certain behaviorisms during the meeting.

Before your interview, it is necessary to prepare yourself ahead of time. You can do this by research. Finding out information about the subject of your writing is important. Being able to show you knowledge will be impressive and demonstrate your sincerity in not only your story but also journalism. Aside from knowing information on your story, it is paramount that you know some background about the person you are interviewing. It shows respect and it will save you from any embarrassment. Once you have learned all you need to know, you can move on to the next step in your preparation. You need to set up the interview. Reach out to the person you are seeking to speak with. You can do this through email, phone calls or any former way of communication previously discussed or agreed upon. Make sure to select a person with a lot of knowledge on the subject and prepare questions that they can give you the most sufficient information you are after. Between the two of you, decide on arrangements or procedures in which the interview will be carried out. For example, ask ahead of time if it is fine with him or her for you to record the discussion. You do not want to catch him or her off guard. Once you have set these things up ahead of time, you are ready for the interview.

Now that it is time for your interview, it is important that you behave in appropriate manors. To begin, state your name by introducing yourself. Next, ease into the interview by asking relaxing questions. Do not jump right into the tough topics. Even if it is the point of the interview, diving directly into touchy topics could scare someone off or cause them to clam up. Furthermore, maintain control of the conversation. You have the questions and you can steer the discussion the way you need it to go. Make sure these questions are specific and straightforward to receive the answers you want. These are the ways you will carry out a successful interview.

By being prepared ahead of time and carrying out proper conduct, you will have a successful interview. Here is a link including other tips on conducting an interview. Best of luck!


This Just Happened

The online world is something we are surrounded by on a daily basis. Many of us have access to the Internet at all times. Internet and the social media have transformed the world we live in. It has also transformed the role citizen’s play. To understand the role citizen journalism plays in out society today, we must first fully comprehend what it is, the good it does, and the negative affects.

Citizen journalism has only recently become a phenomenon. It hinges entirely upon the recent technology that almost every average person has access to. When a person films an event on their cell phone or tweets about something they witnessed it can become a form of news. By Instagraming a picture of something like a car crash, an average citizen is becoming a journalist. When non-professionals gather and distribute news and publish it through mobile technology to public forums citizen journalism is in action.

Citizens involved in breaking news can have great impacts. There are many cases in which the news reported by non-professional newscasters was spread much faster than any news network. As I have previously mentioned in one of my blogs, timeliness is one of the most important elements in news. The faster news is broken, the faster every citizen can have an understanding of the event. Immediate spreading of news is vital. Another benefit to citizen journalism is the first hand account. Reports by people who are present at an event are the most sought out sources for news. These are two very large parts of news that citizen journalism excels at.  The Boston bombing is an example of when citizen journalism.  This link shows the activity of the eyewitnesses.

There are some downfalls to journalism reported by non-professionals. News reported can be bias or taken out of context. One of the largest factors is the reliability. Since it is not coming from a source that has to be held to a standard, there is no reason the news broken by a citizen can be very reliable. These are big negatives that some cannot get over and will never take citizen journalism seriously.

Citizen journalism can have its positives and negatives. However, which ever side you are on, it will always be around us. Because of the social media and mobil technology available to us today, journalism is no longer confined to the night time news.

Do I Make Myself Clear?

As journalists, we are responsible for ensuring our message reaches all audiences. This task can get overwhelming so the best thing to do is think of it in terms of geography. You are the explorer. You have traveled across the seas and now you must create your map to show others what you have found. To be successful, you must consider all persons and avoid techniques that exclude.

Journalists have a bad history of including everyone when creating their news stories. It is our job today to learn from their mistakes and avoid their consequences. In the past, certain demographics of the population were excluded when considering whom to target as audiences for news. This, not surprisingly, was directly correlated with economic status.  The reason for this came from a business point of view. Newspapers figured that the wealthy would be spending the most money on buying newspapers; therefore, it made sense to appeal to the upper class. Since the wealthy became the main audience, newspapers became only comprehensible for the very well educated. Again, it excluded a portion of society. Soon, television followed suit. It is easy to see the drastic results of targeting a demographic audience. It significantly narrows the public’s view of the country. News was not representing reality and yet, it was the only source for the public. It was for this reason that many took what was portrayed as reality. We must understand the consequences this kind of thinking has. For our writing today, it is paramount to consider communities as a whole. We must examine our story for presence of multiple sources that appeal to each side of the issue. If there is nothing of significance for a majority of the population reported in your news, you are not doing your job.

News must be comprehensive for the readers. This demands the utmost clarity in your writing. Things like metaphors may or may not be helpful in communicating your message. The problem with rhetoric like this is that it is up to interpretation. There is no guarantee that your message will not be misunderstood. For this reason, when you are writing, make sure the goal is clarity. Furthermore, do not use exaggeration. It is tempting to excite our stories with extra detail however this must be avoided. It clutters your message and even worse insults the reader. It will be easy for them to tell if you are trying to stretch a story. It looks like you are trying to trick them into believing the hype you are creating.   Provided is a link to a Buzzfeed article entitled “29 Reasons Chris Hemsworht is Definitely The Sexiest Man Alive.” The reasons include all kind of ridiculous claims. Now, Buzzfeed is not necessarily a source you would go to for solid new articles, however the point still remains. This article contains extreme exaggerations and has no real solidarity to it. Avoid these kinds of techniques. They will only get in the way of what the true focus should be, the news.

When writing news stories, we must create articles that are understood by all audiences. To ensure this, consider all public demographics and avoid unnecessary writing styles. Remember, you are a journalist who many count on for the most accurate news.

Lights, Camera, Write!


For my readers who are interested writing for media, one of the largest mediums is broadcasting. It is an exciting form of media that differs from any other type of forum. There are important rules to follow, which I will outline in today’s blog. It is important to understand how to present a lead and how to structure the story.

Broadcasting leads need to be done in a particular way. Because broadcasting is live, in-the-moment news, it demands leads that can match it. It is for this reason that leads must be short. Learn to be concise here. For example, avoid throwing every detail into your catch. You don’t even need elements that you may anticipate as necessities. You may feel like the names of the people involved in the story are obvious elements to add, but that’s not true. As long as you communicate the news, details can follow later. Since broadcasting is the most up to date source for news, it is important that the lead is expressed in the present. This shows audiences that this is the news happening at the moment. It assures them that it is the most accurate information available. Overall, it is important to keep in mind the point of your lead. It must be catchy and grab the audience’s attention. If anything, make it intriguing. Reflect the excitement of the story you have to tell!

You need to structure your broadcasts in the best way possible. There are a few quick rules that will help you set up and tell your story smoothly. Any writing intended for broadcast anticipates an anchor or news reporter, for examples, to be reading them out loud. The first time they see the script may even be live, on air. For this reason you must make it as easy as possible for them to read. Do not write something that is difficult to say, write out numbers, and write out any symbols. Try not to over use quotes. They may be needed in parts of your story but too much is over load. Keep in mind that the people you get quotes from are more than just sources, they are people. If you reflect on their character and who they are, not just their involvement in the story, then you will truly get the most out of the news. You will truly understand the story and everything behind it only once you have gotten to know those who tell it.

Keep your leads interesting and conscious. Structure the news story well and invest in your source. This way you will find success in writing for broadcast media.

What Do You Think?

When we have a great story to tell our closest friends, we can hardly wait to hear their reactions. We want something from them, surprise, agreement, advice, all are eagerly anticipated. When it comes to journalism it should be the same way. Our readers are immensely important to us. So shouldn’t their opinions be too?

As we break stories or share news, we must also adhere to the sixth principle of journalism.   This simply means we must provide the pubic with space to share their thoughts. The goal here is to create an environment that accepts criticisms but mostly works towards compromise. It is easy to see the need for this medium. Since the people are our number one concern, providing them with an area to express their questions or concerns about the news we deliver to them. If our primary audience does not understand our message or have the ability to discuss it then we are missing out mark completely.

Today, the sixth principle of journalism is very easy to provide. It is difficult to imagine news without this forum as we have been surrounded by this type of easily accessible technology for so long. With the technology now, it is extremely easy to create the opportunity for others to become involved. There are plenty of examples of these. Almost everyone I know has a Facebook. There is an ability to share things like news articles and of course an area to comment. This is a more casual kind of medium. When it comes to journalism, there are sections on online news where readers can criticize with a comment section at the bottom of the article. These kinds of opportunities are very valuable with the relationship between news and citizens. One of the greatest achievements here with things like personal blogs is the way it combines the two. So often journalism and subscribers are separated and put into different categories entirely. The reality is that readers should be fully apart of the news they get; it is all done for them after all. Beyond this step, the sixth principle of journalism creates a space for compromise. As long as the comments taken into consideration are truthful and have been verified, they can be used to expose a new side to a story that had not been discussed before. Overall, it is important that we keep equality among the readers to insure that the feedback is not just from the upper class or a single race, for example.

Journalists are not separate from the people. Again, the number one priority is the audience. There is almost no easier way to include our public into the news by providing a forum for their input. If we always provide this opportunity for our readers then we show our true loyalty to them and journalism. Here is an official page from Facebook which provides commentary sections for anyone on that site, regardless of if he or she follows the Jesus Christ is KING page.  This is an example of forums citizens can comment on.

Eye Opening

The power media has over the public is undeniable. As journalist, it is important to understand the influence we have over citizens. Today, I will examine the powers at work in media today and what that means for us as writers.

Large companies have huge influences over what is released into the media. Exploring the make up of these companies may not be what you would expect. The fact is, when it comes to the titans of media, many of the companies are owned by all the same people. This should drastically change the way you view your sources for news and other areas of media. It is easy to feel informed if you go to what you think are multiple sources for, say the nightly news; however, it is important to examine who is in control of these companies. If one giant companies owns multiple news stations, all the information will be reported in the same fashion. Everything will be shared but the company name. And who is to say that the larger company isn’t reporting bias news? There is no doubt that a company would do all it could to keep its name out of any negative light. Yes, they must report something drastic even if it is bad but they the power to cover it up as best they can. Anything bad about them will not be published in front page news; it will be buried in the middle of the newspaper among the least intriguing section. Aside from reporting news for personal benefits, large companies extremely limit the variety of news the public has access to.

It is important for journalist to recognize power dynamics in order to do our job efficiently. Kovach and Rosenstiel in The Elements of Journalism discuss journalists number one duty– remain loyal to the reader. This means reporting factual information and keeping citizens up to date. It is our job to hold the large companies to a higher standard as they realize journalist will be keeping them in check and reporting to the public. By becoming involved in investigations, we can ensure the most complete information possible. After analysis, we can report either new information or a new way to look at information. It is our job to explore the possibilities and present them to the public and allow them to continue reflecting on the issue and creating their own thoughts on the matter.

After investigating news sources, journalist must report information to the public. The readers are our number one priority. Being aware of how large companies and the government share new information is part of our job.   After interpreting news, we can share it for the public to reflect on. Overall, we ensure the publics right to information as best we can.

Rethink Research

Research! It can be one of the most exciting parts of writing a story. No, seriously. That twelve-page history mid term paper you turned in your junior year in high school, get that image to of your mind. While research sounds laborious, with a few rules and guidelines it can be easy, and the observation you get to pair with it is often the reason journalist become journalists.

When it comes to research, you have a plethora of information just waiting to be found. With sources like the government and the Internet, you can accomplish a lot. Some thing people might not know is that we have the right to request any document from the government. There are certain regulations concerning personal privacy but aside from that, the Freedom of Information Act allows citizens access to tons of information. Considering you are on my blog, I don’t have to explain to you the amazing thing that is the Internet. But I can change the way you look at it. We love the Internet. We can play games, catch up with friends, watch movies, all without having to leave your couch. Trust me I can appreciate that. Guess where I’m sitting now. But as fantastic as all that can be, that’s not nearly all we can get out of being online. Technology has allowed you access to tons of information. Let’s take advantage of that. The ease and diversity the Internet provides for researcher is undeniable. There are a few things to keep in mind, however. Always be cautious of the accuracy of an article. Check the authority, the currency, the agenda of the author, and whom the article was written for. It may be outdated, it may be a product of a rant on a bad Monday afternoon, or it may just be that the author was misinformed. Regardless of what you find yourself reading, make sure to check for theses elements. Read for the action? Good.

Now for one of the most rewarding parts of research, the observation. While observation is much more active, it is still a version of research and still has rules. It is paramount to remain separate from those you are observing, even in a participant observation form. This allows you to report the most accurate information you can. We must be wary of carrying a bias into our work. With our number one commitment being to reporting the truth to our readers, this can be more difficult than it sounds. We must stay dedicated to our readers. If we accomplish this, we contribute to one of the most important values in news.

Even though research may sound like a lot of work, it can be easy and even fun. Remember to keep your information accurate and unbiased and you will successfully serve the public as a journalist.