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NEWS REPORTING Spring 2014. Useful Websites

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Presentation on theme: "NEWS REPORTING Spring 2014. Useful Websites"— Presentation transcript:

1 NEWS REPORTING Spring 2014

2 Useful Websites

3 Thinking about reporting What challenges will you face in securing a job in journalism? How will you overcome them?

4 Thinking about reporting How does the public perceive journalists?

5 Thinking about reporting What obstacles do we face as journalists?

6 Thinking about reporting What changes have occurred in journalism over the last 20 years?

7 Thinking about reporting What the next 20 years heralds for journalism?

8 Writing News “You've interviewed all the people involved, the eye- witnesses to the explosion, the police, etc, etc. And now you have to write the story. You have pages in your notebook of facts, observations, quotes. You may have some agency copy, some material from other media. “The first thing to do is stop and think” Peter Cole 2008

9 Before you start to write Plan your story. Read through your notes and prioritise the information. What you have gathered will not have entered your notebook in order of importance. Identify key details/quotes. Decide what is most important for your audience, what interests them? (apply the man in the pub test).

10 Formulating your story As you stare at the blank screen consider the following: The interests of your reader The expectations of your reader The intention of you publication The sector in which your title is located (this will dictate the length of sentences, the words/phrases used) Space and time.

11 Language Don’t use inappropriate language. The choice of words should reflect the audience and market of your publication. Don’t use ‘big words’ for the sake of it. It will offend, not impress.

12 Language "One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed." Stephen King, 2003

13 Keep it simple "It is not enough to get the news. We must be able to put it across. Meaning must be unmistakable, and it must also be succinct. Readers have not the time and newspapers have not the space for elaborate reiteration. This imposes decisive requirements. In protecting the reader from incomprehension and boredom, the text editor has to insist on language which is specific, emphatic and concise. Every word must be understood by the ordinary reader, every sentence must be clear at one glance, and every story must say something about people. There must never be a doubt about its relevance to our daily life. There must be no abstractions.“ Harold Evans, Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers, 2000

14 The Intro "The intro is crucial because it sets the tone for what follows. A poorly written intro might confuse, mislead or simply bore the reader - a well-written intro will encourage the reader to stay with you on the strength of the information and angle you have started with.“ Tony Harcup, Journalism Principles and Practice, 2009.

15 The Intro This is the start of the story, the opening paragraph. The intro has two purposes: To instantly engage the reader instantly To summarise what the story is all about.

16 The Intro - The “Inverted Pyramid" The "inverted pyramid" and dates back to the days of hot metal when words on their way on to paper passed through a stage of being slugs of lead. It was always easier and faster to cut a story from the bottom, using a pair of tweezers. News stories always have to be cut because reporters write them too long, and the (imperfect) theory was that a well structured story could always be cut from the bottom so that in extremis if the intro was the only paragraph left it still made sense.

17 The Intro - The “Inverted Pyramid"

18 The Intro A good intro depends on your judgment and decisiveness. It declares why the story is being published, what is the newest, most interesting, most important, most significant, most attention-grabbing aspect of the story.

19 The Intro 5 Ws Hook the reader The story in a nutshell The best intro will contain a maximum of two or three facts, maybe only one. In a popular tabloid it will consist of one sentence, probably no more than 25 words. The best intro will demand that you read on. The worst will make it likely that you will move on. Finish the sentence: “Have you heard………….?”

20 The Intro Active not passive Always prefer the active tense in news writing, and particularly in intros. The active tense is faster and more immediate; it also uses fewer words. "Arsenal were beaten by Manchester United last night... " is slower than "Manchester United beat Arsenal... ", and if it is a London newspaper "Arsenal lost to Manchester United... " is still preferable.

21 The Intro Positive even if it is negative Not: "The government has decided not to introduce the planned tax increase on petrol and diesel this autumn." But: "The government has abandoned plans to raise fuel taxes this autumn." News is more engaging if it describes something that is happening, rather than something that is not.

22 Intro Example A pensioner suffered a cardiac arrest and died at a Northfleet superstore despite attempts by staff, members of the public and paramedics to save his life.

23 Intro Example (Who) A pensioner (What/Why) suffered a cardiac arrest and (What) died at a (Where) Northfleet superstore despite attempts by staff, members of the public and paramedics to save his life.

24 Second Par After the intro, the second paragraph will be the most important you write. And so on. Holding the reader's interest does not stop until he or she has read to the end. The second par amplifies the story, adds new information, provides detail and explanation. News stories are about providing information, and there is nothing more frustrating for the reader that finishing a story with unanswered questions still hanging.

25 Second Par - Hints It is always difficult to detach yourself from your own prose when you read it through, but try. Put yourself in the place of the reader coming cold to the story and asking the questions that will make it clear. Have you dealt with them? There is always a problem over how much knowledge to assume, particularly with a running story of which today's is another episode. You cannot always start from the beginning for the benefit of reader recently arrived from Mars, but you can include sufficient to ensure it is not meaningless. It is a matter of judgement.

26 Subsequent Pars - Quotes Why do we use quotes? What advantages does an article with quotes have over one that does not?

27 Subsequent Pars - Quotes Usually the reporter was not there and is gathering the information after the event. The direct quote provides actuality and precision.

28 Subsequent Pars - Quotes Write short, incisive, direct quotes change the pace of a story, add colour and character, illustrate bald facts, and introduce personal experience. Long quotes bring a story grinding to a halt, particularly if they are from politicians, particularly local politicians, bureaucrats or bores.

29 Subsequent Pars - Quotes Never use a word other than "said" when attributing a quote. claimed, exclaimed, interjected, asserted, declared do nothing to help the flow of the story. When people speak they "say". On rare occasions it might be relevant to the story if they shout or scream; in which case break the rule.

30 Jargon and ‘Officialese’ Language used in letters from bank managers, council officers, utilities and read from their notebooks by police officers giving evidence in court should always be avoided. People do not "proceed"; they walk. Police do not "apprehend"; they stop or arrest or detain. "At this point in time" is now.

31 Adjectives "Adjectives should not be allowed in newspapers unless they have something to say. An adjective should not raise questions in the reader's mind, it should answer them. Angry informs. Tall invites the question, how tall? The well-worn phrase: his expensive tastes ran to fast cars simply whets the appetite for examples of the expensive tastes and the makes and engine capacity of the fast cars. Use specific words (red and blue), not general ones (brightly coloured).“ Keith Waterhouse (the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror columnist, Newspaper Style. This test should be applied to all adjectives used in journalistic writing. If they add relevantly to the information being provided, they can stay. If not, strike them. Too many writers believe adjectives add colour and style. Vague or general ones add nothing.

32 Adjectives This test should be applied to all adjectives used in journalistic writing. If they add relevantly to the information being provided, they can stay. If not, strike them. Too many writers believe adjectives add colour and style. Vague or general ones add nothing.

33 Puns and clichés Headline writers love puns and phrases from 60s pop lyrics and editors frequently have to restrain their use. They sit even less easily in copy, where only readers over 55 can identify. Again, the danger is excluding readers. “She Smokes Shisha by the Seashore” The Sun Jan 2014

34 Grammar and apostrophes Given the pace of newspaper and magazine production it is extraordinary that so few errors in spelling or punctuation appear, a tribute to the subeditors who prepare copy for publication. From advertising (shockingly, sometimes intentionally) to the greengrocer's board we are bombarded with mis- (and missing) punctuation.

35 Grammar and apostrophes Given the pace of newspaper and magazine production it is extraordinary that so few errors in spelling or punctuation appear, a tribute to the subeditors who prepare copy for publication. From advertising (shockingly, sometimes intentionally) to the greengrocer's board we are bombarded with mis- (and missing) punctuation.

36 Grammar and apostrophes A few common mistakes include the frequent incorrect use of "it’s". Remember, the apostrophe is only used as a contraction for "it is.", The possessive use of "its" never uses an apostrophe. Another incorrect use is "who’s" for possessive. Who’s means "who is," such as "who’s this?" For the possessive, the correct term is "whose cat is this?"

37 Good Grammar The difference between knowing your shit and know you're shit,

38 In class test. Write a 150 word story. Rewrite the following two paragraphs in plain English suitable for publication in a newspaper or magazine. Remove unnecessary words, passive verbs, repetition, cliche, jargon and pompous or pretentious expression. Jot down some questions the story fails to answer.

39 In class test. Write a 150 word story. "Joseph Foster and his sibling Kate were advancing cheerfully along Wesley Street when they were in minor collision with an HGV which unexpectedly mounted the pavement. It transpired later, when the multi-coloured Volvo truck driver who was transporting a container containing motor parts to Oxford was being interviewed by a local radio reporter, that the lorry veered to avoid a police car speeding towards him on the wrong side of the road. The spokesman at police headquarters told a different story. "But it was the children's lucky day as they escaped shocked but unscathed. A hospital spokesman at nearby Eddington hospital, run by the Barton NHS Foundation Trust, said the two children were lucky not to have been seriously injured. 'As it was,' declared Andrew Brown, 'they were examined in A and E and allowed to go home. Unfortunately Kate's buggy was beyond repair.'"

40 Ghoti - Fish gh, pronounced F as in tough o, pronounced I as in women ti, pronounced sh as in nation

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