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RESEARCH AND PREPARATION PHASE May 2011 Dragana Obradovic and Anita Rice Handouts for this session are: 1. Example budget (Excel) 2. Commissioning brief/form.

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Presentation on theme: "RESEARCH AND PREPARATION PHASE May 2011 Dragana Obradovic and Anita Rice Handouts for this session are: 1. Example budget (Excel) 2. Commissioning brief/form."— Presentation transcript:

1 RESEARCH AND PREPARATION PHASE May 2011 Dragana Obradovic and Anita Rice Handouts for this session are: 1. Example budget (Excel) 2. Commissioning brief/form 3. Note on research and travel 4. Note on communications and reporting

2 DEVELOPING THE STORY PROPOSAL (Anita) What is the premise of your investigation? What is your story hinged upon? I.e. Dollores story relies on the fact that employers do breach their employees right to privacy, so she needs to back that premise up in her story If your hypothesis is unclear, your story is on shaky ground. What is your story in one sentence? What are you trying to prove? Then, assess HOW you will prove the basic premise of your story. For example, how will Jelena show her reader that rape sentences are lenient in Montenegro? Comparable to which other countries? Most lenient in Europe? According to whom/which organisation? What are the possibilities for your story? Assess the minimum and maximum (strongest) story lines. Eg the most lenient sentences for rape in Europe, or among the most lenient in Europe? Decide which countries to visit now YOU MAY NEVER HAVE A BETTER CHANCE TO DO THE BEST JOURNALISM OF YOUR LIFE – DONT WASTE IT.

3 FINANCES (Dragana) BE REALISTIC AND DO YOUR RESEARCH THOROUGHLY AND WELL IN ADVANCE. THAT MEANS NOW! Plan – cover all possibilities and refer to the example budget weve provided if in doubt Budget for accommodation, visas, translation, subsistence, local fixers, photographers, court transcripts, local court reports, local communications (SIM card, calls, internet costs – although best to ensure hotel has internet connection). Then add AT LEAST 10% for unexpected costs. Double check costs on the internet. Lonely planet guides are a good source of info. If in doubt, contact BIRN Keep all receipts, labelled, ready for you to submit for reimbursement. Dont leave it to the end – youll be lost. LAST MINUTE TICKETS ARE USUALLY MORE EXPENSIVE

4 BUDGET YOUR TIME (Dragana) Good preparation makes all the difference Decide what you want to achieve, how long that will take, who you need to speak to, who can help you and how much it will cost Start by completing a commissioning brief – see the handout We will begin to complete the commissioning brief in our individual meetings on Thursday and Friday

5 VISAS, ACCREDITATION, FIXERS (Dragana) Do you need a visa? How long does it take to get? How much? ASK BIRN IF IN ANY DOUBT Do you need accreditation, such as a letter from BIRN? Use local fixers to help with interviews and logistics – AGREE FEE IN ADVANCE Your fellowship colleagues can probably help you too – make sure you check with them directly or via BIRN

6 DO YOUR RESEARCH (Anita) Proper research will give you focus and help you target key interviews. If you haven't done your research it will be obvious when you start interviewing. You will lose credibility and interviewees will be less likely to open up. Ensure you are up to speed with new developments. Know the background, major players, who is likely to talk and what has already been reported. Remember you are looking for a new angle, new information, that will take the story forward.

7 SOURCES (Anita) We do the research, so the reader doesnt have to DO: Begin with background reading. Check out official documents, such as laws, regulations, court documents, records of an individual's, organisation's or institution's dealings, such as correspondence, meeting minutes or transcripts, internal reports, contracts or financial records, and original materials on which other research or reports are based, such as the first publication of the results of scientific investigations, surveys, fieldwork or interviews. Consult government or parliament documents and records – laws and legal acts are also often accessible on government web sites. Check websites of NGOs or international organisations before calling for interviews. Reports and documents posted online will help inform your questions.

8 SOURCES BEWARE (Anita) Opinion polls: Often those are commissioned by government or political parties. Check carefully the background of the organisation that produced the poll and the methodology used. Ensure you know the sample size and profile – was it representative? Polls suggest rather than prove… Balance: It is important to represent the interests of different groups, even if minor and/or unpleasant. Doing so means your article will be balanced. Stay focused: It is easy to get lost in piles of research material and to lose your focus. Know when to stop researching and start interviewing. Whats new? As you accumulate material, think constantly of your NEW/FRESH angle. If you're following up a story that's already had an outing, what do you have to add? Ensure you are clear on what is unique and exclusive.

9 SECONDARY SOURCES (Anita) Books, newspaper archives and the internet are all good secondary sources, but they are not a replacement for primary sources They must be attributed and you must be careful of potential REPEAT LIBEL, just because someone else published it first doesnt mean you are immune from prosecution too. Each publication, even by the same outlet, is a fresh cause of action Ensure you use appropriate sources for information. Wikipedia is NOT a source, but its a good starting point for research

10 APPROPRIATE SOURCES (Anita) European institutions, annual reports, special reports, material published on the internet, freedom ofinformation requests, your own requests (FOI or otherwise) for information/statistics andcomments/responses – more on this from the EJC Government departments, NGOs, international organisations such as the WHO or the UN Well–chosen interviewees Official documents – sales documents, deal documents, transfers etc Check websites before calling NGOs and other organisations for interview – you will often need toquestion them further on statistics/info they have already published Your stories will have cross–border elements so make sure you have sourced statistics and other material from all countries relevant to your piece

11 INTERVIEWS (Anita) Contact difficult to reach interviews first and well in advance, do this NOW Fix dates for your interviews BEFORE you set the dates for your trips and BEFORE you book yourtickets All travel must be completed by mid July, so you can meet the July 31 deadline for some elements ofyour story Not only that, after mid–July its the silly season – everyones on holiday Plan other interviews around the hardest to get – that is, fit them around the busiest/least available See handout: Note on research and travel

12 INTERNATIONAL FIRST (Dragana) Organise all international elements, travel, interviews, documents, FIRST. Organise this in advance and send the travel brief to Anita, the English editor, and me, Dragana, by Friday, May 20, 2011 AFTER this has been submitted, you should make a list of sources, interviewees etc in YOUR home country. You must consult the local BIRN editor on this BEFORE the end of May. You must wait for approval from BIRN for your travel and foreign research plans, before booking any plane tickets etc CAUTION: Check the spelling of names and places, and research relevant historical facts before arrival. Use a trusted translator or local source, BIRN staff or one of our fellows from the country See handout: Note on communications and reporting

13 GOING UNDERCOVER (Anita) There may be times when you wish to conceal your identity as a journalist in order to gain a different perspective on the story. Undercover journalism can be a force for social change, uncovering a problem that would never have been brought to light by any other means. But by sacrificing transparency and honesty you could leave yourself open to criticism about your methods or even your conclusions. When deciding whether to go undercover, to obtain information through deceptive means, you should ask yourself various questions. Is the information you will obtain strongly linked to a broader social purpose and is it of vital public interest? Does the public value of this information outweigh the deception and potential violations of privacy? Could you obtain this information through straightforward means, and have you exhausted all other ways of getting this information? Always inform your editor in advance who you will be meeting, when, where and when you will be back. Agree a time by when you will check in, and then make sure you do

14 FOCUS (Anita) It is easy to get lost in piles of research. REMEMBER, youre not writing an academic thesis, youre writing a 2,500 word (MAX) story Stay focused, keep your story angle in mind and dont get lost in your material. KNOW WHEN TO QUIT RESEARCHING AND START INTERVIEWING

15 CHANGING DIRECTION (Anita) It may emerge after several interviews that your original premise doesn't stand up. If this happens, don't be afraid to adjust your focus, even change the idea completely, rather than struggle to make the original angle work. If this happens notify your editor.

16 AT THE END OF THE RESEARCH PHASE (Anita) Ideally, youll start travelling in early June. By the end of the research stage, thats the end of May/early June, you must know the following: The background Key players and people who will talk What has already been reported Key statistics, factual information For example, Ahmed will have sourced statistics on youth re–offending rates, year on year, in Bosnia. If not available, who should be compiling them, and why havent they been compiled. Differences between regions, influence of competing penal codes – all backed up by stats. Is there room for using survey or even conducting one with juvenile offender professionals for example?

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