Tips to Avoid Common Journalism Problems

Whether an amateur or a master, there will always be roadblocks journalists face in the field. Maybe it’s writer’s block, or maybe you had a fact error. Whatever the problem may be (and there is a long list of problems) are tips to overcoming such stressful issues.

1)    Reporting: Do you want to make your story stand out? Try asking questions the interviewee may not expect. Gregg McLachlan, author of Big Stories, Small Towns, uses the Q.U.O.T.E. (Questions Unmistakably Offbeat They’re Effective) approach.

In order to do this, creativity is essential. This way, you not only get to know your subject on a personal level but it also eases any awkwardness.

2)    Writer’s Block: Have you lost your motivation or inspiration? There are numerous places where journalists can pick up the latest events. Many of these places are so trivial to us that we wouldn’t even think of stopping to check what’s going on. Here are just a few:

  • grocery store bulletin board
  • church bulletins
  • school websites/newspapers
  • hair salon/barber
  • take a stroll and observe

(For a full listing, check out: http://www.newscollege.ca/p18.htm)

3)    Fact Errors: Yes, it’s the big uh-oh and it could potentially cost you your job. Journalists have a deadline and sometimes are in a rush to complete a story. One overlooked mistake in a published story can be one huge problem. Common errors include a misspelled name, an incorrect age, or a misquote.

So what do you do now that everyone knows you made a mistake? Acknowledge it. We are all human; we all make mistakes. Pick up where you left off, promise yourself to focus on accuracy, and just move on.

Although these problems will never disappear, these few tips can reduce the amount of stress put into being a good journalist.

Gina Loeffel

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This entry was posted in News coverage, Reporting, Writing tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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