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Posts Tagged ‘reporting’

An editor at a mid-sized newsroom asked me some questions about digital productivity expectations for reporters:

We are banging our heads against the wall about this: How much content should reporters be required to write each day online? … Some feel they produce way more than others. So how do you even the playing field?

My quick answers:

  1. Everything any reporter produces should be published first online.
  2. Content is not all equal. You don’t measure reporters’ productivity or performance by counting widgets or credits.
  3. Expectations for reporters vary by beat and over time. Reporters should meet the expectations of their jobs.
  4. Running a newsroom isn’t like parenting. Your expectations for different reporters vary according to beat, experience, skill, news flow and a variety of other factors. You don’t even the playing field and I have little patience with whining about reasonable facts of life.

I’ll elaborate on those points in order: (more…)

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Few techniques helped me more when I was a reporter than when I learned the value of writing as I reported. It challenged my discipline, but when I succeeded at incorporating writing into my reporting process, I found that it improved both processes.

With today’s digital formats, many journalists have to write as they report: liveblogging events, covering breaking news stories as they unfold, reporting routine beat news or even investigative stories over time as you nail down important developments.

But this was one of my most popular and effective workshops back when I was doing lots of writing and reporting workshops. And I think lots of reporters still cling to the old linear process of reporting first, then writing, when breaking stories don’t force them to write as they report. I think learning the value of writing when you report, even if it’s not a breaking story, will help improve your writing and reporting, as well as helping you succeed in situations where digital formats demand better integration of your different work processes.

So I offer this old workshop handout, not much updated except for this intro, because I think it might still have value.An earlier version of this handout was posted on the No Train, No Gain website. I often paired this, either in the same workshop or in companion workshops, with my teaching about Using Story Elements. The process of writing as I reported and the mentality of thinking in terms of story elements were critical to whatever success I achieved as a reporter.

I addressed both the process and the use of story elements in telling how I wrote the homecoming and twins stories, two of the best narrative efforts of my career. (more…)

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Every reporter should be a frequent user of Twitter’s advanced search function.

I spent some time on the phone recently with a veteran reporter wanting some help in using Twitter effectively as a reporter. I’ve published lots of Twitter tips for journalists before and compiled resources for journalists using Twitter. Those extensive lists might be a little overwhelming, though, if you’re just getting started in Twitter and lacking confidence.

I’m going to take a different approach now, explaining one Twitter tip at a time, suggesting that reporters master a different tool or technique each week (or so; no promise that I’ll be able to hold to a weekly schedule).

We’ll start with Twitter’s search tools. Twitter’s basic search just added some new features, and I encourage journalists to check out its new features, including the ability to search the tweets of the people you follow. But advanced search has more useful features, especially for local news reporters.

Perhaps the most useful feature of advanced search is the ability to filter searches by location. Toward the bottom of the search form is a window, that says “near this place.” When you start filling in the name of a place, a distance tool appears with a pull-down menu that lets you set a narrow or wide radius for your search: as fine as 1 kilometer or as broad as 1,000 miles. (more…)

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When I wrote about how a digital-first approach changes a journalist’s work, people asked for more examples.

In that initial post, I provided examples of how the approach would change the work of a court reporter, sports reporter, visual journalist, beat reporter and assigning editor. In response to a question from a colleague planning to hire a statehouse reporter, I blogged separately about how that reporter might work. On Twitter and in comments and emails, people asked me to explain how the digital-first approach might change the work of a business reporter, investigative reporter, lifestyle reporter and a reporter covering multiple beats.

Part of me wants to answer: You tell me. I haven’t been a business reporter in 20 years (though I have covered a few business stories since then). I was never a lifestyle reporter. A purpose of that blog post was to stimulate the discussion and experimentation of journalists so that you would answer those questions for yourselves and colleagues.

But more examples from me might stimulate more discussion and experimentation, so I’ll provide some answers, with this caveat: I’m not spelling out here how anyone should work. I’m suggesting things to consider as you decide how to work. Instead of going through each of the beats I was asked to address, as I’ve done with some of the others, I’ll list some questions and tasks any reporter should consider in working on any beat. I’ll answer them for some of the examples I was asked about, but the answers may be different for your beat. (more…)

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