Note: The following is a blog post from alum Bianca Montes. She recently visited The Shorthorn and provided some training. She sent along this blog post for everyone as a follow up.
I wanted to follow up from our training Friday to say thank you for being a respectful and passionate group of journalist to speak with. I also wanted to reiterate the message I hope I left you with, and that is for you to know how significant your role as journalists are.
What you write matters. Never forget that.
As journalist we play an important role in the world of checks and balances. Never forget that, either. Our little typing fingers yield a lot of power and have the ability to persuade.
That is a big deal. Don’t abuse it.
Remember the story we write is not about us, our beliefs or our vendettas. It’s a big deal to be the author of what may be the catalyst for the change we want to see if the world, but don’t let that go to your head. Remember we are simply the vessel to the voice.
Here are a few tips I want you to remember when you report and write:
- – If what you’re writing doesn’t influence ask yourself why you’re writing it.
- – The who, what, when, where and why are the foundation of any article, but the outside-of-the-box questions you ask will be where you find a story at.
- – Sensory details cause neurons to fire.
- – Show me, don’t tell me the action.
- – The who, when and where will more often than not be the start to a boring lead. The what and why is always fascinating.
- – Don’t ask questions, get answers.
- – What is said is almost always more important than who said it: Put attribution at the end.
- – Make sure your facts matter.
- – Feature ledes and anecdotal ledes have a strong place in news. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
- – Awards are awesome, but they don’t define you.
- – Write for your community, not other journalists.
- – Learn how to request open records now. Request at least one document a week.
- – Don’t be afraid of the numbers. Data journalism is not as hard as it looks.
- – Everything in your story should tie back to your lede. If it doesn’t you have two options; get rid of it or change your lede.
- – Kristin Sullivan or any public or media information officers should not be who dictates your story. Nothing starts or ends with them.
I am leaving my contact information below. If you need someone to brainstorm with or talk to, give me a call or email me.