With Associated Content instating a new News Policy on original reporting, many Content Producers are confused and weary about this so called “original reporting.” In actuality, it can be difficult and time-consuming, but that’s only if you don’t have the right tools. In fact, it can be quick and painless if you know what you’re doing. So, if you’re interested in producing exciting, original articles for Associated Content, then there are 5 tips you need to know and understand. This will surely will help you become a better original reporter.
Tip 1) Let the event/story come to you.
Sometimes the word “original” can scare us. After all, original means traveling, time, and possibly money. But that’s all wrong. My first tip is let the story come to you. You have to realize that you’re a lone reporter and if you’re going to do original reporting, it has to be local. There is no way you will be able to cover breaking news stories on triple murders, or on pregnant celebrities. Use your town to gather breaking news stories. Maybe there has been on-going construction, or a new cerfew instated in your town. Remember anything that affects a group of people is news. If you live in a large city, then you definitely have the upper hand. Remember to use where you live to your advantage by covering a wide array of topics that affect people in your town or city. One way I like “letting the event come to me,” is by reading the paper or watching the news. Both of these sources will tell you what’s going on in your area, when, and where. This way you aren’t just looking for news, you have it planned out. If you have the resources to travel, do so. If a hot political debate is going on in a city near you, it may be something you won’t want to miss. If you are unable to travel due to any reason, then it’s no big deal. If you read the paper or watched the news, you already know whats going on just down the street from you. You can’t go wrong with letting the story come to you.
Tip 2) Get the facts right.
When you plan out a news story, it’s always good to be there to witness an event. Even with being there and witnessing you can’t always get the full story, especially if it is a deep or heavy topic. Again, you can always use the news to gather facts, but make sure they are just additional facts to make your story stronger and more accurate. For example, if the story is related to violence or crime, use police reports to gather additional information. Unlike news, police reports are not under copyright and are specially released to the press and the general public. These reports are also the most accurate and useful. Plus, a lot of press releases go off sources like police reports. In conclusion for this tip, make sure you get the facts right by researching beyond what you witness at an event. If you’re at a festival or a specific location, collect things like fliers, brochures, etc. Always double check facts too. While many sources may hold simple facts that are accurate, sometimes there are errors or mistakes. Finally, always remember to cite additional sources, even if they aren’t electronic.
Tip 3) “Quote me on this.”
If you’re going to fully cover a story, you’ll need to talk to people who are also witnessing an event. It may seem random to go up to people and ask them questions about an issue, but you still need to do it if you’re going to produce an accurate, original story. When you talk to people, introduce yourself and state what you’re writing and reporting about. Don’t be rude either. If people talk or ramble on, let them. Just make sure you’re a good listener. Remember that you don’t have to use everything they say. Be prepared too, have a list of questions pertaining to the event thought our before hand so you’re not lost for words when talking to someone. Always carry a pen and notepad too. Don’t just write off and quote someone from what you remember them saying. If you’re serious about reporting and having the resources, a tape recorder is always a luxury to have when interviewing. One thing to remember is to make sure that you jot down names to use when you’re quoting someone. Ask them to spell out their name too. There is nothing more embarrassing then getting someone’s name wrong. I also like to ask someone where they are from. I feel that this is important because someone from a different town or state may have a different perspective on an event. When you’re done with the interviewer, make sure you thank them for talking to you and write down the website (www.associatedcontent.com) and link to your content producer page where the article can be found after it’s published. One more thing to consider is that you don’t always have to do interviews in person. Sometimes interviews via email or phone will work. Even if you interview in this fashion, get the same information.
Tip 4) A picture is worth 1000 words.
It’s a proven fact that articles with pictures get more hits. And while you can go on to google and pick up an image that pertains to your story, a much more reliable way to attach a picture to your report is by taking them yourself. Whenever I go anywhere to pick up a news story or event, I always try to bring my camera with me. I have to admit that I am “snap happy,” but when you’re a reporter, it’s just something you’ll have to get used to. Take tons of pictures, but also take pictures of relevant things. Take pictures of the location and how people are interacting with whats happening. If you have two or more pictures you want to post with your story, don’t worry about narrowing it down to just one. Pick the best picture to upload with your story first (as this will be the image people will see first and be pulled in by) and then upload all or any other pictures after. Associated Content has a great feature that will allow to upload a few images to your original report! Also, original report videos are great for covering stories too. If you have a video camera, don’t let writing limit your reporting.
Tip 5) Quality over quantity.
It can be tempting to mass produce news stories. But, the fact is that with Associated Content’s new policy of original reporting, it’s nearly impossible to mass produce. Don’t take this as a bad thing though. Associated Content is encouraging you to write more high quality stories, and with good reason. Instead of focusing of producing more and more, focus on the quality of yours news stories. When writing your story, keep flow, facts, and perspective to pull your whole story together. I guarantee that writing a high quality article is much more satisfying than mass producing articles that are just “okay” when it comes to flow, facts, and perspective. As an extra incentive to keep quality in mind, Associated Content hands out bonuses or higher offers for articles that are exceptional. When it comes down to it, you’re better off getting a nice offer on a great article than getting a few normal offers (and possibly declines) for weaker articles. One other reason that its impossible to mass produce is that you simply can’t be in a million places at once covering a huge amount of news stories. For me, I can usually cover up to three original articles a day. Set your goals to an appropriate level when it comes to researching and reporting. Just always remember it’s quality or quantity.