Staff Training 9/16 with Karen Brooks Harper

Karen Brooks Harper came to speak Friday and had some great tips and advice for student journalists. In case you weren’t there, or would like a reminder of what she talked about, here you go! 

“There will always be a demand for truth tellers and story tellers.”

How do you get started?

  • Give yourself ten minutes to take a walk/drink/etc. Step away from the computer and think about it.
  • Make sure you have all of your interviews and do your research.
  • You have to interview more than the minimum of your sources. Widen your sources.
  • Lackluster interviews turn into lackluster stories.
  • Sometimes you’re not done with all your interviews.
  • Visualize the headline — that’s how you can see what the news is.
  • Read your notes TOP TO BOTTOM. Did you miss anything? Any follow up questions?
  • Create an outline before you go out to cover an event. Do all the pre-writing you can before had. “Advance matter.”
  • “Write-through.”
    • Start with the original version, but then you go through and add quotes and things in and change things as you go. This is a good way of self-editing and writing through your work.
    • Not only for breaking news.

Work-life balance isn’t always going to be what you want it to be in journalism. It’s worth it though. Set your priorities and follow them.

Covering city council and student government: Staff are very valuable sources of information. Pay attention to people who attend meetings. Stories that affect people are happening outside the chambers. Something shows up on the agenda when it’s affecting people.

Structure: Lede + quote. Focus on the news of the story by writing the headline.

Old school tip: pretend you’re writing a letter or an email to a friend.

Know what the story is going into it. Do your research before you go out to cover things.

You have to write the most important thing first. If you don’t know what that is, then you probably don’t have a story.

Not all ledes need to be creative ones — put the facts down.

“What matters is the story that’s in front of you.”

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This entry was posted in Training by Anna Gutierrez. Bookmark the permalink.

About Anna Gutierrez

After graduating in 2017 from the University of Texas at Arlington, I moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to work for the Society of Professional Journalists. As the communications coordinator, I work on a variety of communications for SPJ: creating the weekly newsletter, writing press releases and managing and generating content for SPJ’s social media channels. I believe in the First Amendment and the importance of passionate storytelling and digital strategy. I love my dog, Lilly, planners, pineapples and all things Texan.

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