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Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

I encourage watching Storyful’s video about processing vicarious trauma as we cover horrible news.

In my community of Baton Rouge, journalists this summer have covered fatal shootings by and of police officers as well as a widespread natural disaster. Other journalists cover war, terrorism and mass shootings. Even if you don’t witness death and destruction yourself, interviews with survivors can be difficult for journalists. The Storyful video focuses on the impact of dealing with graphic images of traumatic news.

The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma provides helpful resources for journalists, both for effective and sensitive coverage of traumatic news and for dealing with the secondary trauma that journalists may experience.

Related posts

Digital First Media newsrooms collaborate on trauma coverage, peer-support program

Tips for reporting on traumatic news

How do you ‘steel’ yourself to ask tough questions

Scott Blanchard’s advice on asking tough questions

 

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Spotlight” may become this generation’s “All the President’s Men,” a riveting movie based on real-life journalism that uncovered abuse of power.

The similarities, both in the journalistic stories and in the movies, are plentiful and probably not coincidental. The Washington Post’s investigation of the Watergate break-in and its cover-up has inspired investigative reporting ever since. The Globe editors and reporters who investigated the Catholic sexual abuse scandal walked in the footsteps of Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee and other Washington Post journalists of the Watergate era.

Parallels between the journalism stories and the movies abound (and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few):

  • Both films depicted interviews with people scared to talk about what they knew.
  • Both movies depicted successful working of powerful sources with inside information.
  • Both depicted the value of teamwork, including conflict and different personalities, in successful reporting, both at the reporter and editor levels.
  • Court records provided key information in both stories.
  • Each film includes a riveting scene of a fearful reporter running in the dark.
  • The two movies used similar cinematic techniques and scenes to depict the tedious use of directories and old newspaper stories to track down important details and make connections.
  • Both films effectively portrayed the difficulty of persuading reluctant sources to talk and the painstaking task of tracking down sources and getting turned down by those who won’t talk.
  • The movies both deal with the complicated personal connections that play into journalism, however much we strive for objectivity.
  • Both stories included a Ben Bradlee as a key character: Senior as the executive editor of the Washington Post, portrayed by Jason Robards in an Oscar-winning performance and Junior as deputy managing editor of the Globe, portrayed by John Slattery.
  • Both movies accurately portrayed the rumpled look of many journalists, the newsroom banter, the look of newsrooms of their times. (As much as we hate clichés in copy, we become easy clichés on the wide screen.)
  • Both films accurately portrayed the tension between editors and reporters, each pushing from different perspectives to perfect the story.

The most important parallel between “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight” is that each portrays one of its generation’s best journalism investigations, each shining a light on shameful cover-ups of criminal activity, each succeeding in bringing down powerful figures.

Companion post: In a separate post, I share advice from my own experience covering sexual abuse by priests.

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Ivan Lajara

Ivan Lajara

You owe yourself a laugh today. So start it by reading Ivan Lajara’s glossary explaining news jargon.

Some highlights for me (many more than this; just read it yourself):

Circulation: An arrow going down.

Conflict of Interest: White House Correspondents Dinner.

Cover Story: The one story that had art.

Editor: Angry White Man.

Freelancer: Reporter without health insurance.

Reefer or Refer: A column by Maureen Dowd.

Speaking of the Maureen Dowd column, start your day with a second laugh: Read Sarah Jeong’s post on four other Times columnists and Malcolm Gladwell writing while high.

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In one of the emails wishing me success in my job search came some questions from a young reporter. I enjoy few thing more here than answering journalists’ questions, and I much prefer that to writing about myself.

So here’s the question:

How do you think journalists can network with other reporters effectively in the digital age?

For instance, I’m interested in working at a number of different outlets in the future, from alt-weeklies to dailies to online media. I’d love to connect with reporters and editors at those outlets, but it’s harder to ask that reporter to chat with you over coffee when you’re miles and miles away.

Do you have any advice for how to cultivate that digital relationship with other journalists?

Yes, I have advice for cultivating digital relationships with journalists: (more…)

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Journalism isn’t narcissism, as Hamilton Nolan noted correctly in his Gawker headline. But as Nolan elaborated, I heard an old theme that I think has misguided lots of journalists. Journalism also isn’t machinery. Journalism is practiced by humans, and journalists and journalism professors who deny their humanity diminish their journalism.

Nolan found fault with a New York Times piece by Susan Shapiro, an author and journalism professor he dismissed as “teaching a gimmick: the confessional as attention-grabber.”

Shapiro encourages her feature-writing students to “shed vanity and pretension and relive an embarrassing moment that makes them look silly, fearful, fragile or naked.” Nolan counters that journalism students instead need to be taught to write other people’s stories:

Your friends, and neighbors, and community members, and people across town, and across your country, and across the world far and wide are all brimming with stories to tell. Stories of love, and war, and crime, and peril, and redemption. The average inmate at your local jail probably has a far more interesting life story than Susan Shapiro or you or I do, no matter how many of our ex-boyfriends and girlfriends we call for comment. All of the compelling stories you could ever hope to be offered are already freely available. All you have to do is to look outside of yourself, and listen, and write them down.

I believe both journalists are right. Journalists need to tell the important untold stories of their communities. Most journalism should be outward-looking. But personal insight can and often should be part of the process of listening and writing down other people’s stories. (more…)

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Thanks to Tim McGuire for his recent “This I believe” blog post, spelling out his core values and views about journalism, newspapers and the future of media. I think it’s helpful, especially in turbulent times, for journalists (or people in any field) to reflect occasionally on what we believe — core values as well as our beliefs about where our profession and our industry are going. I promised earlier this month to blog a response.

This I believe about journalism and the future of media:

I believe journalism plays an essential role in our democracy.

I believe journalism plays an essential role in community life. (more…)

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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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