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Archive for November, 2011

Update: I’m going to be doing this workshop a third time today (Dec. 2) for CBCnews.ca. I’ve added some new examples (EPPY winners and finalists) and some other links.

We will be using many of my tips and examples for digital storytelling (I will be updating them soon).

In a morning workshop, teams of participants will analyze the tools and techniques used in some of these digital stories:

Here are my slides for the workshop:

The workshop includes a storyboarding exercise, something like Knight Digital Media Center describes.

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I’ll be leading a daylong workshop today for the CBC music staff on writing for the Web. Some topics we’ll cover:

Here are my slides for the workshop:

We’ll start with this song that brings music and journalism together:

I used the Detroit Free Press’ outstanding Respect package as an illustration of pulling multiple digital storytelling techniques together.

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Reporters and editors everywhere battle and complain over length of stories. Even online, where newspaper space or tight broadcast schedules aren’t an issue, you need to write tightly to hold the reader’s attention and keep the story moving. You need to hone your ability to organize information and write tight stories that make every word count.

Plan to write tight

Coordinate with your editor. Discuss story ideas in some detail with your editor before you start gathering information. Make sure you agree on the probable scope of the story. This can save time wasted gathering information you don’t need. As you are gathering information and writing the story, you will need at some point to agree on a probable length if you are writing for print. If you delay this discussion too long, you may waste more time and effort and invite more frustration.

Consider the reader. A failing of some long stories is that they are written for sources, rather than for readers. Consider why you are including information in a story. To impress sources with your knowledge? To keep a source happy? Or to inform the reader? A tougher challenge is to decide whether you are writing for the reader with strong interest in the issue or for the reader with average interest. For most stories, you should write primarily for the average reader who would read the story. (more…)

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If you’re starting a blog, keep these eight points in mind:

  1. Understand your community. No blog appeals to everyone. Identify the community for your blog and keep those people in mind when you gather content and develop new posts. (I deliberately used the word community rather than audience because the best blogs invite participation, rather than just reading and watching.)
  2. Think in terms of blog posts, not other types of writing. A news story or a newspaper column could be a blog post, but you don’t need to be limited by such formats. A blog post can be (and often should be) short. An interesting link that you wanted to share can be a blog post. Anything that might interest your community is a potential blog post. (more…)

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I will be leading a webinar on using Twitter for research for Newspapers Canada.

The tips I will present in the workshop are covered in my earlier blog posts, Updated and expanded Twitter tips for journalists and Advanced Twitter techniques for journalists. Here are my slides for the workshop:

 

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The “5 W’s” of journalism are the building materials for web writing. Most journalists learned these fundamentals our first day in a newsroom or a journalism classroom. But we occasionally need reminding and refreshing.

These questions can guide your reporting as you interview, observe and research to gather the facts for your story. They can guide your writing, whether you are live-tweeting an event, writing a brief summary or a video script or crafting a long narrative. They can raise ethical issues to consider. They help you find links to add context or visual content to illustrate. They guide you to possible visual content for a post. I will address each of these possibilities for each of the fundamental questions:

Who?

Reporting. Accuracy and verification are the heart of good writing. Make sure you get the names spelled right. Ask a person to spell his or her name for you (even if it’s a common name), then spell it back and/or show what you wrote in the notebook. Get it in writing: from a business card, web bio or other source. If the written version doesn’t match what you have in your notes, resolve the conflict directly with the source. Who is more than a person’s name. Your research should uncover a person’s title and role in your story, the relationships, experience, perspective and motivation. (more…)

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Update: Jim Romenesko has posted his own account of his departure from Poynter. I don’t feel any need to add to my original blog post (below) beyond this tweet:

Here’s what I wrote Nov. 10, the day Romenesko resigned:

Jim Romenesko didn’t plagiarize and my friends at the Poynter Institute were wrong to suggest that he did.

I agree that Romenesko — and any journalist — should use quotation marks when using exact words of people. But when you credit and link, failure to quote is not plagiarism. It’s a punctuation offense, not a serious breach of journalism ethics. Julie Moos, director of Poynter Online, was mistaken in saying that he failed to meet Poynter’s publishing standards. She was especially mistaken to follow that statement with a quote from the Poynter standards that used the P-word.

I was on the road this afternoon when the story broke. I weigh in belatedly only because I blogged about attribution and plagiarism just last week. I also weigh in reluctantly. I consider Moos and many of her Poynter colleagues to be friends. I have collaborated with Poynter faculty on ethics seminars and have the highest respect for Poynter and its position as the leading voice in journalism ethics. (more…)

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