Presentation on theme: "LEGAL, WRITING AND EDITING PHASE August to mid October 2011 Anita Rice In this session, well cover these topics: 1. Writing tips 2. Style tips, based partly."— Presentation transcript:
LEGAL, WRITING AND EDITING PHASE August to mid October 2011 Anita Rice In this session, well cover these topics: 1. Writing tips 2. Style tips, based partly on last years presentation by Marcus Tanner 3. Some legal issues 4. Editing process 5. Questions
LEGAL, WRITING AND EDITING PHASE August to mid October 2011 Anita Rice Reference materials for this session are: 1. Digging Deeper (book) 2. BIRN style guide (handout) 3. Legal terms, definitions and libel defences (handout) 4. Fake news stories – would they be safe to publish? (handout)
DEADLINES JULY 31: THREE FACTUAL ELEMENTS These could be profiles, timelines, legislation quick guides for example which we will agree in the Individual meetings this week in Vienna SEPTEMBER 1: FINAL DATE FOR ENGLISH VERSION FOR FELLOWSHIP JUDGES – 2,500 words maximum This story must not be physically edited by ANY of the fellowship editors but we can and MUST discuss content, structure, interviewees, evidence, paper trails etc. REMEMBER, this is the version that will decide whether you win a 4,000 euro prize or not. Dont leave to the last minute EDITING: SEPTEMBER TO MID OCTOBER You will be allocated two days intensive editing with the English editor, me, during this six week period, in either Skopje or Belgrade. Ensure you book dates with Dragana NOW if you are not available for the entire period NOTE: You must also be available during the entire period for amendments, additions, clarification and obtaining further material.
BI – WEEKLY WEB UPDATES AND EDITORIAL SKYPE PROGRESS CHECKS Every two weeks until the end of the August you shall: Email a 400–word blog–style update – with pictures where necessary – for the fellowship website Update the editor, thats me, in a short 20 minute Skype voice call
GETTING STARTED: ORGANISING YOUR MATERIAL ALWAYS work from a detailed article OUTLINE. An outline is a roadmap; a logical and schematic summary are essential when writing a long piece. BEGIN by transcribing recordings and typing out handwritten notes so that all your material is in front of you in a clear, easy–to–read format. HIGHLIGHT the most relevant sections in your interview notes and all other documents, for example reports, web pages or emails. ARRANGE the highlighted information into an article outline. Time spent preparing a good outline will cut many hours from the writing process. The more detailed and carefully thought out your outline is, the more organised your piece will be.
WHAT IS YOUR LEAD? The first sentence in the outline should be your lead. This is the point from which the entire outline, and article, will flow. Each paragraph in the outline must then support the lead, with each paragraph flowing logically from one to another. Work out what your lead is – this is the top, strongest line of your investigation. The basic structure of the outline is simple and mirrors the structure of the story itself – beginning (lead) – middle (body) – end (conclusion). This may sound oversimplified but it is amazing how often journalists forget these basic components of a story, including link paragraphs that move the reader from one thought or element to another. As with the outline, time spent working out the lead well BEFORE you start writing will save much time and keep your article focused
CONSIDER YOUR READER It is amazing how many journalists dont consider their readers. We are not writing for ourselves. Be clear, concise and arrange your story in an engaging style Your story outline should weave together the various elements – quotes, facts, stats, background – so that you keep the reader engaged and do not lose or confuse them Do not presume knowledge. Some parts of your story may seem obvious to you, but they probably arent for others. Remember that many of your readers will rely on the English language version and they might speak English as a second or third language
STRUCTURE: LEAD, BODY AND CONCLUSION A GOOD LEAD MUST: Grab the readers attention and explain what has happened and why it is important. Captures the mood, creates an image, appeals to the imagination and takes the reader to another place or world The STORY BODY MUST: Continues to draw the reader in The story must FLOW. Each paragraph must follow on logically from the previous one Each new paragraph should introduce a new topic or point Keep links smooth, using linking words such as however, soon after, meanwhile, conversely The CONCLUSION MUST: Leave the reader satisfied and give them a feeling of closure. Dont tail off or let it look like you ran out of steam Resolve all story threads. It is the end. It is not a place for new information, revelations or surprises The final paragraph is often a warning note regarding future developments, a very strong quote or a reminder of the fate of some characters introduced earlier.
AVOID Long, rambling quotes – select the most poignant sentence, the most meaningful or the most relevant Statistical or factual information, eg population size, is rarely best presented in a quote Dont get bogged down with unnecessary and irrelevant detail, keep the pace and language lively and to the point
STYLE TIPS Use an active rather than passive voice Keep sentences short and simple Vary the way you begin sentences: Loitering outside the job centre, Smith explains he hasnt worked for more than… Its terrible round ere, he says might be better than Mr Smith was waiting…to open
HOOK THE READER If possible, try a colour introduction that illustrates a fact, rather than just stating the fact. Find a person/family/scene/human interest story to illustrate the dilemma/phenomenon about which you're writing. If you are writing about women starting to have children in their 40s, introduce us to one such woman, rather than just stating that "20 per cent of women giving birth to their first child are now aged 40 and above.
COLOUR INTROS MUST BE RELEVANT Make sure the colour introduction does illustrate the rest of the story. It must provide a relevant lead. A colour intro must function as a guide to the story. It is not enough, just being colourful. Don't forget your introduction. If we meet Julia, aged 41, having her first baby in the introduction, it will be unsatisfactory if we never encounter her again. The reader will want to know what happened later, soplan on saving some material/quotes from/about her for the conclusion. It is easy to fall in love with some scene or incident that is interesting but IS NOT strictly relevant to the rest of the story. A colour intro is a good way to hook in the reader, but don't push it too far.
NUTGRAF / OUTLINE YOUR STORY A colour intro should not be more than one or two paragraphs. Then you must outline the substantial point of your story. This second section should contain a concise diagnosis of the phenomenon you want to describe. IT should provide context, taking us from the colour intro to the wider phenomenon. It should tell the reader why your story is important. When you refer to the book Digging Deeper, this is referred to as the NUTGRAF. See page 188. SEE BOOK HANDOUT: DIGGING DEEPER
PRECISE, SOURCED FACTS The NUTGRAF must be accompanied by relevant facts, figures and percentages. These must be sourced, eg: UN or the WHO. This is hard fact: Nothing here should be vague, unsourced, without context or imprecise. Don't say: 100,000 people have lost jobs in the country recently. Do say: According to Zagrebs Chamber of Commerce, in its figures for 2009, 100,000 people lost their jobs over the past 12 months, mostly in mining and transport sectors. As a result, the total jobless figure at the start of 2010 stood at 350,000, which is nine per cent of the working age population."
KEEP TITLES SHORT Long titles take up valuable space. Don't waste words by writing out professional and political titles in full. No need to say "John Smith, State Secretary for Economy, Exports, Imports, Businesses and Trade," just say "John Smith, the economy minister" – that's four words instead of 12. Avoid the title president unless it is the head of state or someone occupying a similarly grand function, i.e. "president of the supreme court". Use director, manager, head, chief, chair, chairman. So, instead of "president of the executive board of Glaxo chemicals", say "head of Glaxo chemicals". Don't call people doctor unless they are medical doctors. Use editor, not editor–in–chief, etc.
GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT Check all your facts, and source them when it is relevant to do so. This applies to facts that are little known, controversial, disputed. If it ever looks like you are being careless or evasive with your facts, it will destroy your authority as a journalist and demolish your story. Some statistics, such as unemployment statistics, need to be sourced, but only briefly. This is because they are not normally controversial; we just want to know where you got the figures. i.e., say, the chamber of commerce, the ministry for employment, etc. Give detailed sources for more complex, controversial or debatable facts.
BE LIVELY, BUT APPROPRIATE Try to avoid sounding either like a European Union policy document, i.e. dry and official, On the other hand, avoid sensationalist, tabloid reporting. No triple dots ("I looked into her eyes... ") unless you have contracted an overly long quote, He was going barmy… I thought he was going to kill me. Use exclamation marks sparingly (He looked crazy!) No italics/ repetitions /capitals ("Someone is screaming... Someone is SCREAMING!")
GET THE TONE RIGHT No exaggerated comparisons; do not compare a badly run hospital or prison to a Nazi concentration camp. Do not suggest angry, unpleasant officials are like Hitler. Do not call people fascists unless they use that term for themselves. NO innuendos Do not patronize: Never refer to old women as granny, or refer to them by their first names as if they were children. The same goes for old men, peasants/rural people/ poor people, etc. Avoid clichés. Keep tears to a minimum.
DONT GET PERSONAL There is a sometimes a place for the author in his or her story. But it should be as discrete and neutral a place as possible – and not in the foreground. If the word I' appears in every paragraph, something is going wrong. The only exceptions for this are if you make yourself the subject of your own story. e.g., you dress up as a beggar to see how society reacts to the poor. Dont put your opinions in the story, you should only provide, in quotes, the views of others. Don't use quote marks without attributing them.
EMOTIVE, JUDGEMENTAL TERMS Do NOT use the terms terrorists, warlord, fundamentalist or freedom fighter/martyr unless in quotes Use precise descriptions, pro–Taliban fighters, anti–government fighters, rebel army fighters. How do they describe themselves? Avoid imprecise use of emotive words such as massacre; the deliberate killing of people known to be armed and defenceless. Are you sure? Could these people have died in battle? Who says? The word genocide cannot be used unless it is a recognised genocide. Rwandas 1984 genocide is recognised as such by the UN. Avoid demonising adjectives like cruel, brutal or barbaric as it means youve taken sides. These should be reserved for quotes, where not libellous. NEVER make an opinion or claim look like an established fact
ETHICS: PRIVACY People – their strengths but usually their weaknesses – make stories. Reuters reminds its journalists that "the people who make the news are vulnerable to the impact of our stories. In extreme cases, their lives or their reputations could depend on our reporting." This is worth remembering when considering issues relating to privacy. Privacy is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as the state of being private and undisturbed; a person's right to this; freedom from intrusion or public attention; avoidance of publicity. Think about how you would feel if the story were about you or your grandmother, for instance.
IMPARTIALITY AND BALANCE Ensure your pieces are balanced by representing all sides of the story. Give those criticised the chance to respond. You must represent all sides, without bias. The journalist should be separate from the story. Keep your opinions out of your stories but be aware that 100% impartiality is impossible.
ACCURACY Accuracy means precision. Correctly spelling names, citing numbers and reporting what was said in the right context, without exaggeration. Accuracy is betrayed by using unreliable sources, sources with a hidden interest and by failing to independently verify or double–source information. Lack of double sourcing turns journalism into rumour-mongering and propaganda. Inaccuracy betrays the media's single greatest attribute, its credibility. Citizens will neither believe the media nor tell journalists the truth about events if they fear being misquoted, misinterpreted or maligned.
PLAGIARISM Always use your own reporting. Rewriting material from other media is a minefield and leaves you open to allegations of plagiarism or even libel. Plagiarism is the intentional and unintentional use of someone else's words or ideas without acknowledgment [Purdue University's Online Writing lab]. It is a serious breach of journalistic ethics and at most international news organisations a journalist found to be plagiarising would be fired.
DEFAMATION Defamatory statements can be made in numerous ways. Broadly speaking, if the statement is written or in any permanent form, such as a picture, it is LIBEL. If it is spoken or otherwise transient in form it is SLANDER (except broadcasting and theatre/performance – also LIBEL).
DEFAMATION DEFINED Judges in the UK tell juries that a statement is defamatory if it tends to do any one of the following: 1. expose him to hatred, ridicule or contempt; 2. cause him to be shunned or avoided; 3. lower him in the estimation of right–thinking members of society generally; or 4. disparage him in his business, trade, office or profession. NOTE the use of the term tends to, the burden of proof is NOT on the complainant in a defamation case. NOTE also right–thinking refers to accepted or standard intelligence and judgement of a reasonable man.
LEGAL GUIDES FOR JOURNALISTS The standard book English journalists use is McNaes Essential law for Journalists, published by the Oxford University Press. As you will know, defamation is causing harm to an individual's reputation, either on a personal or professional level. According to The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, the vast majority of libel cases are the result of a published allegation of crime, incompetence or immorality. The same guide says the majority of these cases can be linked to the usage of erroneous, vague or inexact language.
COMMON MISTAKES AND ASSUMPTIONS Do not repeat rumours, you must have proof before making any form of allegation Adding 'allegedly' is no protection. Nor is contradicting the rumour if you start by repeating it Each publication of a libellous statement is a fresh cause for action
MORE COMMON MISTAKES Quoting others is dangerous if you can't prove what they said is true. This goes for other, published media reports Drawing conclusions – letting the facts speak for themselves is far better than adding a conclusion you can't prove Irresponsible adjectives – adding that extra something to your story just might prove costly Representing all sides – is good journalistic practice, but isn't a defence against a libel action
INTERNATIONAL REPORTING – LEGAL CONCERNS We publish in English on the internet and, therefore, are potentially vulnerable to UK libel actions The complainant does not have to be English or even resident in England to sue there Journalists living anywhere in the world are potentially open to being sued for libel here in England, if they publish something which is defamatory and untrue about someone with a reputation in England and who has sufficient links with this jurisdiction (family here, business interests here etc) and they can show that a significant number of people who live here in England accessed the words complained of. Stephen Loughrey, solicitor, Carter Ruck
COURT REPORTING Adhere to local law in your home country or UK law when outside your home country to avoid breaching contempt of court laws Know if reporting restrictions apply. They will apply for sex offence trials, cases involving children or other vulnerable individuals. NEVER attempt to report a court case on your own in another country. Use a qualified, local court reporter. ALWAYS request translations from the court itself/justice ministry when attempt to render offences. Is it grievous bodily harm or actual bodily harm? Offences, court type (appeal, first instance), verdicts and sentences must be accurately and precisely translated.
FICTITIOUS STORIES FOR TRAINING PURPOSES DO NOT PUBLISH OR DISTRIBUTE BFJE VIENNA SEMINAR / MAY 2011 Please turn to the handout I emailed to you before we arrived in Vienna. Is the first story safe to publish? Why?
NO, ITS NOT SAFE TO PUBLISH THERES A RISK OF GROUP LIBEL Care home owners jailed for abuse A married couple who ran a residential care home for vulnerable elderly people have been jailed for a total of 10 years, after both were convicted of violent abuse. Ann and Edward Smith, who ran the Twilight Nursing Home in Xtown, Xcounty, each received five–year jail sentences, following their trial at Xtown Crown Court. The Smiths were found guilty of abuse after the court heard they repeated slapped, starved and shouted at the people in their care. Two other carers were also found guilty of related offences.
NO, ITS NOT SAFE TO PUBLISH THE CHILD, WHO IS BOTH THE VICTIM OF A SEXUAL OFFENCE AND A MINOR, HAS BEEN UNINTENTIONALLY IDENTIFIED – JIGSAW IDENTIFICATION Judge increases incest fathers jail term A father of three who subjected his 10–year–old daughter to horrific sexual abuse has had his jail term lengthened by the Court of Appeal. The father, Shane Smith, 51, of X street in X town, abused his daughter for 9 months in 2010 while his wife was not at home. The appeal judges ruled the original sentence of 3.5 years to be inadequate, and increased the minimum jail term to be served by Smith to 7.5 years. Smith had previously been found guilty of sexually abusing an underage girl in 2008. (Write instead: The father, who cannot be identified… )
NO, ITS NOT SAFE TO PUBLISH THERES A RISK OF CONTEMPT OF COURT Three men charged over Xtown arms find Three men have appeared in court charged in connection with the discovery of guns and ammunition in Xtown. Appearing in court in Xtown were: Fred Bloggs, 24, from this address; John Joseph, 31, from that address and 28– year–old Andrew Another from another address. The men are charged with possession of firearms, preparation for committing acts of terrorism and possession of articles likely to be of use to terrorists. All three were remanded in custody until next month. Police said all three men had been previously convicted of firearms and violent offences in the past three years. NB: Why can we say that the convicted sexual offender has previous in the story before, but we cant reveal previous offences in a story about a live case?
UK LIBEL LAW UNDER REVIEW, BUT BEWARE While the UK government is considering introducing curbs on so–called jurisdiction shopping for libel, there will be NO IMMUNITY for journalists working in EU and aspirant EU member states in the Balkans, who publish in English on the internet: The proposed reforms do not grant immunity from English libel actions. In an effort to stamp out so–called libel tourism (foreign claimants choosing to sue for libel in England because it is perceived to be a more claimant friendly jurisdiction) the reform proposals simply increase the burden of proof on the claimant to show that England is clearly the most appropriate place to bring the claim. Stephen Loughrey, solicitor, Carter Ruck law firm, UK
UK LIBEL LAW UNDER REVIEW (CONTD) But arent the proposed reforms, if passed, going to greatly reduce the burden of proof on journalists in libel cases? No. The proposed reforms will slightly liberalise our libel laws with regard, for example, to the defence of honest opinion and to the fact that it is proposed that claimants should now have to prove that any article they sue over has caused, or is likely to cause, them some damage. However, the burden of proof will very much remain on the journalist / publisher to prove that the words complained of are true or to make out some other recognised defence to the claim. It is important to bear in mind that in England we have a vigorous and competitive press who are constantly battling to outdo each other in terms of sales and who historically have shown disregard for the truth or falsity of what they write. Our libel laws are designed to impose some checks and balances on them. Stephen Loughrey, solicitor, Carter Ruck If youre interested, you can track the progress of the governments paper on libel laws on its website: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010–11/defamationhl.html Honest opinion example McNaes (18th edition, pg 238 – Branson V Bower)
WORD COUNT You cannot put everything in the story; your word count is 2,500 words MAXIMUM
FACT CHECKS After you have written your story return to your original documents and interview transcripts to make sure you have the facts right Do this BEFORE you send the article to the BIRN fellowship team Local editors, and I, will check your facts and require you to provide proof, transcripts, documents where necessary We will expect you to provide core documents for publication as PDF or web hyperlinks within your story
EDITING I know some of you are familiar with this type of editing process but be warned, the editing process is rigorous and the final copy may look substantially different to the article that you submitted All stories are edited by a native English–speaking editor, so dont expect to see your English or direct translations in the final copy Stories will be edited according to BIRNs style guide The more you stick to the word limit, the more likely the editor will not need to summarise your material It is a COLLABORATIVE process
EDITING PROCESS The editor, me, will work with each of you on your stories for two days between the beginning of September to mid October Each fellows two days will be agreed here, and cannot be changed. Obviously, there are ten of you, it would make editing impossible The edit will address: structure, balance, accuracy, legal, sourcing and ethical issues and confirm use of which pictures, audio/video etc Local editors will check and approve final copy for the fellows from their country Local editors will also approve local versions of articles that involve their countries Fellows must be available after these two days to check and approve the English language copy after it edited, AND AGAIN, after it is proofread NOTHING will be published without the authors written consent DONT DISAPPEAR, IT MIGHT BE THAT YOU NEED TO PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION, QUOTES, TRANSLATIONS APPROVALS AFTER THESE TWO DAYS
TRANSLATIONS Some fellows prefer their own translations over professional translations – please deal directly with Dragana about this The English language version is the definitive BIRN version and will be used for translation into local languages BIRN will provide translations into local languages NB: translating into local languages is key for the programme and it is ANOTHER REASON WHY YOU CANT MISS ANY DEADLINES
PUBLISHING We will begin publishing stories – one by one – from October 15 All stories MUST be published before the closing seminar Berlin
AND FINALLY WORK HARD WORK SMART STAY IN REGULAR CONTACT GOOD LUCK