Be a Citizen Journalist!
Ok, don’t worry so much about “be.” Just “do”–do stories. It’s simple, tell a story. And make sure your story is true, fair, and informative.
True: Do your best to find the truth, then tell the truth. Use credible sources. And tell us who they are, what they do. They don’t always have to be authoritative. Interview people on the street if relevant. But talk to the right people for your story. If you’re telling us something, tell us who told you.
Fair: No lengthy definition here–you know what “fair” means. We all have biases. Be aware of yours. Then muster up some compassion for “the other side,” yes, compassion. Telling a truthful story involves trust. Trust the reader to decipher for herself. Disclosing any conflict of interest is a good idea too. Absolute objectivity is an impossibility. But try. Cover both sides. But fair does not mean “balanced.” If you’re doing a story on racism, don’t give 50% of your time to a racist. You get the idea.
Informative: Make sure your story is relevant, easy to understand, and interesting. Sounds like a lot of pressure, eh? But don’t worry. If it’s interesting to you, chances are it’s interesting to someone else. Tell us what’s interesting about the story. And do it quickly. Don’t include unnecessary information or words. Readers are busy. Make it concise, and easy to understand. Talk about the important stuff first, details later.
More Bits of Advice
-Avoid emotional words. “He said” is better than, “He claimed.”
-Paraphrase: Tell us what your source said, in your words, accurately.
-Quote: Tell us exactly what your source said, exactly, using “quotation” marks.
-Tell the story in third person. Use “he, she, they, them,” instead of “I, me, my.”
-Pick a story that is interesting to you, interesting to us, and relevant to Cache Valley.
-Don’t get hung up on grammar, spelling etc. Focus on clarity.
-Have someone else read your story. Does he/she get it?
-Tell us what we can do to change things legislatively (in both directions).
-Use pictures, charts, and graphs. -Feeling alone? Collaborate. Do a story with a friend (or enemy).
-Have fun. Then send the story to us, or someone else. We’ll distribute!