This guide is what I find essential for you to know and follow, in order for your newspaper to be successful; it contains basic journalistic knowledge and “cheats” that will help you through the process.
Consider this document your armour, your sword and shield, your bulletproof vest, your anorak, your umbrella, your Wi-Fi password cheat program, your firewall, your favourite teddy-bear, your emergency chocolate candy, that will prepare you, protect you, guide and assist you in your simulation conferences journey.
Read through, note well and get ready for your great adventure.
Let’s get started…The Five "W"s and the "H"
This is the crux of all news - you need to know six things:
Any good news story provides answers to each of these questions.
The Inverted Pyramid
This refers to the style of journalism which places the most important facts at the beginning and works "down" from there. As the reader moves from top to bottom, the information presented should gradually become less important. Ideally, the first paragraph (the lead) should contain enough information to give the reader a good overview of the entire story. The rest of the article explains and expands on the beginning.
Don't Write About Events Chronologically! Instead, put the most interesting and newsworthy stuff at the top of your story, and the less interesting stuff lower down - no matter what order it occurs in. A good approach is to assume that the story might be cut off at any point due to space limitations.Tips for Writing a Lead
Follow these and neither your information nor your articles shall ever be boring:
your lead is too broad, it won’t be informative or interesting.
are often one sentence, sometimes two.
Strong verbs will make your lead lively and interesting. Passive constructions,
on the other hand, can sound dull and leave out important information, such as
the person or thing that caused the action.
context: Take into account what your reader already knows.
- Honesty: A lead is an implicit promise to your readers. You must be able to deliver what you promise in your lead. What to Avoid Flowery language: Many beginning writers make the mistake of overusing adverbs and adjectives in their leads.
by-line (reporter's name & picture).
Paragraphs of about 30-40 words, each one has a main idea and different fact.
They may also include quotes from people involved or experts.
Details are given
in order of importance, with the least important details at the end of the
article; this allows reader's to skim over the start of the article to gain the
essential facts before deciding to read on.
At the end of a
newspaper article the facts and opinions are summarised, detailing the issue or
Language Features - Newspaper Article
Clear and concise
writing: Keep it short, informative and to the point; try to convey as much
information as possible in as few words as possible
Active or passive
voice can be used, depending on the focus and which is more engaging for the
included: direct quotes, comments, opinions, statements and observations from
people involved or experts on the topic.
Keep the reader
interested: if there's something boring that you're pretty sure your readers
won't care about - like the board members discussing the weather - leave it
labels so that the reader knows who they are straight away.
racist, sexist or religious slurs.
- Should be accurate and balanced (provide facts supporting both sides of the issue).
Get as much information as you can before the speech. This initial reporting should answer such questions as:
What’s the topic
of the speech?
background of the speaker?
setting or reason for the speech?
It goes without saying that the more thorough your notes, the more confident you’ll be when you write your story.Get the “good” quote
Generally, a good quote is when someone says something interesting, and says it in an interesting way. You need to distinguish the “good” quotes from the boring ones and note them. To do so, your complete focus and concentration needs to be in the discussions of the committee, any kind of distraction (such as mobile phone or social media notifications) must be eliminated.
Get the audience reaction
After the speech ends, always interview a few audience members to get their reaction, this can sometimes be the most interesting part of your story.
Watch for the unexpected
Does the speaker
say something especially surprising or provocative?
Does the audience
have a strong reaction to something the speaker says?
Does an argument
ensue between the speaker and an audience member?
Picking out trends as the debate goes on will help you write your lead. After all, you need to observe and be part of your assigned committee’s internal communication language. Any inside joke, trend, pattern that is established should be reported.Find Your Lead
Generally, your lead should sum up the debate’s main points.
In order to write a great lead make sure you focus on what’s the most interesting. In order to achieve that, you should forget chronology -if the most interesting thing the speaker says comes at the end of his speech, make that your lead.
As mentioned above, you should seek thoroughness without being stenographic; you don’t have to take down absolutely everything a source says. Keep in mind that you’re probably not going to use everything they say in your story, so don’t worry if you miss a few things here and there.
In addition, you should try being accurate, but do not stick to unimportant details. Evidently, you always want to be as accurate as possible when taking notes, but no one expects you to get every quote exactly right, word-for-word. What matters the most is to be accurate and get the meaning of what someone says.
Also, when writing your story, don’t be afraid to paraphrase (put in your own words) something a source says, if you’re not sure you got the quote exactly right.Listen for the take-away moment
Many speeches have a pivotal moment that defines them. Maybe the speaker says something controversial or suggests an unusual plan of action. If the audience has a strong reaction to something the speaker says; chances are that's a take-away moment.Stay after
Don't leave immediately after the speech is over. If there's a reception, head to it and ask audience members for their reactions to the take-away moment.How to Interview Like a Journalist
It is your job to research! You don’t know the person who you will be interviewing until you meet them, but you do know the event you are going to and you can research that and everything relevant to it. A well-prepared reporter inspires confidence in the person being interviewed.Develop your questions
Once you’ve thoroughly researched your topic, prepare a list of questions. Making such a list will help you remember all the points you want to cover. Then, find a good interviewee - you’ll never know just by looking at them, so ask around- and when you do have control over who you’re interviewing, seek out a good subject.
If you’re shooting video find an interviewee who is dynamic on camera. Make the person that you shall interview feel comfortable, place him/her in a comfortable location (in front of banners, logos) with friendly surroundings and quiet. Be professional and friendly – not pressing. Let them know what you’re going to do, what you want out of the interview, how long it’s going to be etc. Ask to spell and pronounce their name and title either record it on audio or on camera.Small talk and softball questions
A “softball” question is simply a non-challenging question that often gives the person license to brag about themselves or their work. Be open and keep it natural, you don’t need be so focused on getting through your list of questions, because you might miss something interesting. Make sure that you don’t mechanically read the questions you’ve prepared, weave your queries naturally into the flow of the conversation.Ask open ended questions
Ask the tough ones, the ones that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Make sure that the questions are not guiding and the interviewee can elaborate on them. Get them to talk about what they really love- their feelings, and always ask why.Let the interviewee ask their own questions
At the very end of your interview, after you’ve asked all your questions, ask one final question: “Is there anything else you would like to add?”. Plus, always ask if there are other people they recommend that you speak with.Clear all misunderstandings
Double-check the meanings of any terms or words they used that you’re unsure about. We do not want any diplomatic incident to occur due to your misconception or ill-hearing of the interviewee’s words.Highlight the Good Stuff
Once the interview is done, go back over your notes and use a checkmark to highlight the main points and quotes that you’re most likely to use. Do this right after the interview when your notes are still fresh.Preparation
Before you start any interview, make sure that you:
interview: Neither your notes nor your memory are going to be 100% accurate, so
it’s better to record any interview you take in order not to get the quotes
Don’t let them answer off microphone: These is
good advice for any interview, live or not, especially if it’s being recorded
on audio or video as many interviewees tend to move, turn their heads around
etc. Just make sure that you don’t put it right before their faces as they
might get stressed.
Test your equipment: Every journalist makes
this mistake once! But it costs!
Any kind of voice
equipment (tripod, GoPro cam, lences, etc)
A cup of coffee
“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.”
— Tom Stoppard