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News Reporting and Writing Sources Gerry Doyle. You must attribute all information in your report unless: it is an established fact: China has the world’s.

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Presentation on theme: "News Reporting and Writing Sources Gerry Doyle. You must attribute all information in your report unless: it is an established fact: China has the world’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 News Reporting and Writing Sources Gerry Doyle

2 You must attribute all information in your report unless: it is an established fact: China has the world’s second-largest economy. is information in the public domain: Objects fall at 9.8 meters per second squared the reporter, photographer or camera operator is on the scene. The fire truck’s paint was blistered from the heat. When to attribute to a source

3 I. You The reporter remains the most accurate source. You can provide details other reporters not present cannot. You can spend time “showing” rather than “telling.” Levels of sources

4 II. Named or cited sources. Be specific in describing the source. You the reporter are still responsible for verifying information from the source. Levels of sources

5 III. Unnamed sources are the weakest level. Try to identify your sources in your report whenever possible. Still, there is a ranking of unnamed sources: Authoritative Official Designated Levels of sources

6 Human: You talk to them Physical: You view or examine them Online: You search them Types of named sources

7 Eyewitnesses Official spokespeople – public officials and agencies usually have one. Paid press and information people – many non-public groups also have people whose job is to talk to the media. Analysts – institutional experts in academia, trade groups and other organizations. Human sources

8 Problems with Human Sources Some people lie, but not everyone. All people have faulty memory: get more than one source for key information. All people speak from self interest: try to identify why they are telling you what they are telling you.

9 In other words… “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” —Veteran news editors everywhere

10 What is the person’s bias? Is the person qualified? Are other sources saying the same? Testing human sources

11 Remember that every human source has a motive to speak with you. Listen for what is not said as well as what is said. Research a source and the story topic before the interview. (In other words: be prepared!) Testing human sources

12 Finding Human Sources Government officials, police and politicians. Experts: NGOs, universities, corporations, consultants Public relations professionals (for a start) The guy on the street ( vox pop ) Or … the guy in the bar.

13 Dealing With Human Sources Be nice and respectful to everyone: especially the secretaries, janitors, the second- and third-in-command. “Don’t just talk to the smart people.” – WSJ’s Ken Wells Go beyond the PR people – especially on your beat. Give out your name card – you’ll get one in return. Politely ask for e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

14 Building Your Source List Stay organized Use tags, keywords Note personal info: birthdays, hobbies, partner’s names Stay in touch Don’t just call/e-mail sources when you need something Send them info/stories they might enjoy

15 Documents, files and records from governments, corporations and organizations. Books, magazines and newspaper clippings. Recognized reference books are better than newspaper clippings and old broadcast files. (After all, journalism is history on the run.) Physical sources

16 Are they up to date? What about the possible bias or reliability of the source (can be an issue with some books and magazines)? Testing physical sources

17 Finding physical sources Get good at Google Go beyond simple keywords Use Google Alerts to monitor news on your beat. Government Web sites Company Web sites Use RSS to keep an eye for announcements.

18 Online Sources: Beware The Internet has opened the door to information. More “bad” information is available. Shane Fitzgerald: one of the most significant figures in recent journalism history.

19 What a great quote! “One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear.”

20 There’s just one problem It was completely made up. The point? NEVER trust user-edited content well enough to cite directly.

21 Who/what is behind the site? Does the site seem professional/unbiased? Check the URL. Can information be confirmed? Can its source be contacted? Testing Online Sources

22 Finding Online Sources LinkedIn ProfNet Gorkana Gerson Lehrman Group Bloggers and discussion groups Social media

23 Finding Online Sources The Internet is GUIDE to finding information. Journalists must do everything possible to verify information. Note: Wikipedia is NOT a source! (Remember Shane Fitzgerald?)

24 Exercise caution: the chance for harm to your reputation is high. Why? Because the chance to pick up bad information is also high. All information must be cited and, to the best of your ability, verified to be true. Microblogs are not a source. It can be an effective tool to develop a source. Social media as a source

25 Developing sources: reporters are expected to maintain a detachment from them. Give a fair hearing to all sources on a topic. Sourcing values

26 Recording interviews: obtain the source’s permission. Undisclosed taping can be illegal in some jurisdictions. Remember that many sources are recording the interview, be it in person or over the telephone. Sourcing values

27 It is the reporter’s responsibility to agree with the source how information is given. Be accurate in describing the attribution of your source: “said in a statement” “said in a statement released on her/his/its Web site” “told reporters in answer to questions” “said in a telephone interview” Sourcing values

28 Multiple sources in a story is the expectation of your editors… but most important, your readers Honesty in the way you present your sources Never allow sources to attack under the agreement of anonymity Sourcing values

29 Other news organizations as sources: you must name the source, even when it is a rival. You are still responsible for providing a file that is accurate, balanced and legally sound. Sourcing values

30 Reading “English-Language News Writing” Pages 29-31; Pages 79-82

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