This term I’ve been teaching Reporting II at the University of Oregon. Here are the 10 takeaways (actually 14, like the Spanish Inquisition I cannot count,) that I gave my students. They’re applicable to anyone starting out in the field of journalism.
- Use the resources. My slide packs are online and they offer recaps, tips and hints on topics ranging from data journalism to health media, police and crime reporting. Remember / write-up the lessons from the journalists we spoke to.
- Read. Read. Read. Expose yourself to good – and diverse – sources of journalism. Read it critically. It’s amazing what will sink in.
- Give yourself permission to be descriptive. Reporting doesn’t have to be dry. Use your descriptive writing skills to bring work alive.
- Vary your language. Try to avoid ending every quote with “said” and repeating the same words in any given sentence/paragraph.
- Remember your audience: Write as simply as you can. It’s an art form. Anybody should be able to read your work and understand it.
- Format matters. Great content can be killed by poor formatting; and in digital environs lack of subheadings and hyperlinks.
- Use the right platform for your story: Storify, Medium, WordPress etc. if you can, pick that platform that’s best for each piece.
- You’re more networked than you realize: Look at how many great stories you got from existing networks or classmates. Repeat + Grow.
- Diversity of approach: A house style / format doesn’t need to cramp your style. Look how your assignments varied from one another.
- Keep your portfolios and social media presence up to date. You never know when it might be needed.
- Always take notes. Even if you’re recording an interview. It helps to memorize key points.
- Always record that interview. Just in case your subject disagrees with what’s been said. Have an accurate irrefutable account.
- Thank your sources: when your story is published, share a copy / link with them. They always appreciate it.
- If you’re having problems/filing late tell your Editor ASAP: They can help you. And may be more flexible than you realize.