Presentation on theme: "Structuring And Developing Your Project. Developing the Concept Formulate your hypothesis – what is the story line? What do you want to prove? Assess."— Presentation transcript:
Structuring And Developing Your Project
Developing the Concept Formulate your hypothesis – what is the story line? What do you want to prove? Assess the possibilities of the story Where to travel? You may never have a better chance to do the best journalism of your life – don’t waste it!
Finances Be realistic and do your research well Plan – cover all possibilities - accommodation, visas, translation, subsistence. Basic/predictable costs + extraordinary costs + miscellaneous. Expect unexpected expenses - at least 10% of your total. Cost check on the internet. Lonely Planet guides are a good source. If in doubt, contact BIRN staff. Keep all receipts, labelled, ready for submitting for reimbursement. Don't leave to the end - you will be lost. Last minute tickets are usually more expensive
Budget Your Time Good preparation makes all the difference Decide in advance what you hope to achieve, who can help you and how much it will cost. Start by completing a commissioning brief.
Visa's, Accreditation, Fixers Do you need a visa? Ask BIRN. Check if you need journalistic accreditation for access. Arrange a local fixer to help you with interviews and logistics - agree fee in advance. Your fellow fellows can maybe help you, check.
Interviews Contact difficult to reach first and well in advance. Do this before you set the date for the trip and book tickets! Plan other interviews accordingly. Do you need translation for the interviews? If so, you may need to allow more time for the interview.
Researching the Story Remember that you are looking for a new angle, new information – something different that will take the story forward.
Secondary Sources Books and newspaper archives, internet but be aware of minefields Useful sources are: European institutions - Annual EC reports, for example and then followup with requests for comments/ interviews. Check websites of NGOs or international organisations before calling them for an interview. Check BIRNs handbook for useful websites. Your stories will have cross-border elements so make sure to include sources from all countries relevant to your piece.
Focus Beware. It is easy to get lost in piles of research material and to lose your focus. As you accumulate material, keep reminding yourself of your angle. If you’re following up a story that’s already had an outing, what do you have to add? What is unique/ special about your story?
International First Deal with people, documents in the countries you travel to first – organise in advance, send travel brief to English editor, wait for approval. Only then people/documents in your country – make a list, but go primarily for original material. Consult local BIRN editor, by the end of May. Beware: Check the spelling of places and names and research historical facts using a trusted translator a respected local source, BIRN staff, or one of our fellows from the country.
By the end of the Research Phase......you must know: - the background to events; - the key players and people who will talk; - what has been reported already.
Reporting and Interviewing Know your subject matter but don’t make assumptions Prepare a list of basic questions covering the main points Improvise and adapt, if needed Questions in advance? Decide on a case-by-case basis, but avoid if at all possible, when interviewing politicians or public figures.
Interviewing Techniques Listen – Not just to what is being said, but how. Observe – Check the surroundings, how people are dressed, how they behave and interact you with you and others Avoid - Leading questions – For example, ask “what did you see”, not,“you saw the soldier shoot the man, didn’t you?” Use – Short 0pen-ended rather than closed questions. Ask - "Who else should I speak to about this topic?" and "What have I not asked you that I should have asked you?” Finally - an informal chat at the end, tape recorder off, pencil put down, often produces useful information. Check - your notes before walking away or hanging up
Interviewing Interviews are best in person Phone interview if you have to Never – unless there is really no other option – interview by . Even if you’re recording, also take notes. It saves time and allows you to add observations. If you don’t understand, ask again. As part of the BIRN editing process you’ll have to go back and ask again anyway. Best to do it first time around. Never make up a quote. You will always be found out. Never pay for information or interviews.
Remember There’s no such thing as a stupid question. British journalist Jeremy Paxman once repeated the same question over a dozen times to a British politician who was refusing to answer.
Off the Record, on the Record Interviewees must give informed consent and understand the meaning of "on the record" and “off the record”. Check throughout the interview what information is on, and what is off, the record – especially if they give details that could put them, or others, at risk. Try and stay “on the record” when possible. Use anonymous sources sparingly. “Everyone knows” is not a source! Be as specific as possible. A senior UN official, an EU diplomat, clearly state where they are based. Be extra sensitive when interviewing trauma victims. Remember, you are an observer, not an active participant.
Undercover Journalism 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? You should never use deception to obtain a story to: - win a prize; - beat a rival; - save money; - because the subjects of the story are themselves unethical.
Local Laws and Customs Familiarise yourself with local laws and customs. It is your responsibility to inform yourself about the political, physical and social terrain in which you will be working. For example, in some countries, covert use of a tape recorder is illegal. Telephone taps, breaking and entering, hacking should not be used. Safety [Sources: International News Safety Institute, Committee to Protect Journalists, International Federation of Journalists]
Keep Safe Inform your editor in advance who you will be meeting, when, where and when you will be back. Agree a check in time. Leave a list of contacts with your editor detailing who you would like us to contact in the event of an emergency. Meet problematic contacts in a public place Carry press identification, or signed and stamped letter from your editor outlining your mission Carry a mobile phone with emergency numbers Limit phone interviews to non-sensitive information Respect local customs: dress and behave appropriately Learn the words for “press” or “journalist” in local languages.
Organising your Material Set up a clear organisation structure on your computer alphabetically, chronologically, by subject, by the personality involved Transcribe recordings as soon as possible Sensitive files, documents, discs, video and audio recordings should be stored in a secure place.
Analysing Information Leave a time to think about the material collected Find a human story as a hook, but establish a narrative Prepare a new outline, if needed (if the facts discovered lead the story in a new direction) Check up with English editor, when this phase is complete
Clarity and Organisation Highlight the most relevant sections in your interview notes and all other documents The highlighted information should then be slotted into an article outline : beginning [lead] – middle [body] – end [conclusion) Always work from a detailed article outline - a logical and schematic summary - essential when writing a longer news story or feature. Start your outline by working out the lead – what your piece is about, the first sentence. Save all notes and tape recordings until well after the story is published. If anyone challenges your work, your notebooks will back you up.
Libel and Defamation Don't write what you know Write only what you can prove Your only defence is: Truth, fair comment; absolute and qualified privilege, the subject is dead, honest mistake
Common Mistakes and Assumptions Repeating a rumour – is unwise unless you can prove it is true. Adding ‘allegedly’ is not enough. Nor is contradicting a rumour if you start by repeating it; Quoting others – dangerous if you can’t prove what they said is true. This goes for other media reports published; Drawing conclusions – let the facts speak for themselves if you can't offer concrete proof. 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 an actual libel.
Excuses that are Never a Defence But I don’t live in... - England, US, etc. But it wasn’t me; it was my publisher But other media reported it But everybody knows that already But I wrote about his company, not about him But I used the word 'alleged'
Writing "Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them the story; tell them you have told them."
Writing Pay attention to: Accuracy Fairness and balance, objectivity, what does it mean? Clarity – don’t overestimate reader, explain Importance of background Identifying person quoted Anonymous sources
Writing - a Warning: You can’t put everything in the story, you have only 2,500 words No abstract concepts, write only what is interesting to reader No personal comments No first name reporting All facts and quotes allocated to the sources. Once you have agreed, refined and polished the outline, there should be no consultation with local editors about the writing
Fact check When your story is written, before sending to BIRN fellowship team, go back to your original documents and interview transcripts to make sure that the facts are correct. Take this responsibility seriously
Submit the Story - Deadline, September 1st
Editing process Direct contact with English editor from September 1 to October 15 The editor will address: issues of balance, accuracy and sourcing and structure Fellows are required to undertake supplementary work to resolve any such issues. When final copy is ready, Fellows are expected to check and approve final English copy. After proof-reading a further approval will be necessary.
Nothing will be published without the full (written) consent of the author.
Translations Some fellows prefer their own translations over professional translations However, translators in local languages are available
Translations - Copy Approval Local BIRN editors will check and approve final copy of the fellows that report from their countries. Local editors will also approve local versions of articles that involve their countries.
Editing - a Warning: The editing process is rigorous and final copy may look rather different to the article that you submitted. All stories will be edited by a native English-speaking editor so don’t expect to see your own 'English' (or direct translations) in the final copy. Stories will be edited according to BIRN’s style guide. The more you stick to your word limit, the more chance that final copy will require summarising by the editor Expect to work closely with the editor - the process of getting stories ready for publication will be collaborative.
Finally... Work Hard Work Smart Stay in Regular Contact Good Luck