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Archive for January 25th, 2014

I’m leading workshops today on doing better stories. In two 90-minute workshops, we’re going to cover a lot of ground at the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association Symposium in Calgary.

The workshop will cover material in these blog posts:

Finding and developing story ideas

Suggestions for livetweeting

You don’t tip competitors on Twitter, you beat them

Tips on verifying facts and ensuring accuracy

My version of Craig Silverman’s accuracy checklist

How to verify information from tweets: Check it out

Organizing a complex story

Make Your Story Sing:  Learn from songwriters how to tell stories in just a few words

Strong from the start: advice for writing leads

Make every word count: Tips for polishing and tightening copy

I’ll discuss these stories:

The Homecoming

The Farragut Admiralettes

Roy Wenzl’s “mystery child” story

The rescue of the twins

Here are my slides for the workshop:

I’m going to use some songs and a video clip to make some points. Here they are (this will be more helpful for the people in the workshop; if you weren’t there, they might not all make sense):

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A complex story should not be challenge to the reader or viewer, however challenging it is for the writer. Careful work in organization of your reporting, digital production and writing will help readers make sense of stories that deal with cumbersome economic or technical issues, or with soap-opera tales that present multiple characters and confusing turns. These techniques will help keep the complex story clear.

Use digital storytelling tools

Reporters with long print experience tend to think they need to squeeze everything into the text story that they love to write. Digital First journalists need to think about the best tools for telling each part of the story.

The bigger the story, the more different digital storytelling tools you should consider. But an important part of organizing the story is to avoid overwhelming the reader or viewer with every fact and every tool you might use. Choose the most important information and then decide which tools share that information the best. Much of the success in a complex story is in those difficult decisions of what to leave out.

Videos and photos

For the strongly visual aspects of the story, use the best visual storytelling tools. Instead of writing a sidebar on a topic with visual appeal, or squeezing it into your text story, make it a Tout video or a longer video and give it prominent play in the package.

Or tell a story in a photo gallery. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an effective photo gallery saves you a lot of writing and lets the writer concentrate on the points that are best conveyed in words. (more…)

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