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Chapter Summary
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  • News stories usually come from:
    • events that are sudden and unpredictable;
    • events that are scheduled and predictable;
    • news releases alerting the media to noteworthy events or topics;
    • ideas generated by readers, editors or reporters; and
    • your own ideas.
  • Sources provide the raw material that reporters turn into stories. Without them, there is no news. Reporters are only as good as their sources.
  • Every reporter must learn how to:
    • select sources for relevance;
    • check sources for accuracy;
    • balance sources for fairness; and
    • cultivate sources for tips and future story ideas.
  • The more sources you use, the better the depth, context and reliability of your reporting will be.
  • The main types of sources to consult:
    • newsmakers
    • spokespeople
    • experts
    • official records
    • reference material
    • ordinary people
  • What does it mean to "attribute" something to a source?
  • What do journalists mean when they talk about "anonymous" sources?
  • How do you decide whether a source is reliable?
  • For the reporter, the Web is the ultimate research tool—if you use it in an efficient, responsible way.

The Reporter's Webliography

  • Research & reference suggestions
  • Useful search engines
  • Journalism tips & tools

The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Plagiarize

  • Plagiarism can ruin a reporter's career. Some ways to avoid committing plagiarism:
    • quote and credit the source;
    • paraphrase, while still crediting the source; and
    • rework and reword the idea until it's more yours that theirs.
Internet Search Tips from the Pros
  • Try using directories AND search engines.
  • Bookmark your favorite search sites and get familiar with them.
  • Keep keywords as specific as possible.
  • Study the site's search syntax.
  • Watch your spelling.
  • Before you link to Web sites, study their addresses to assess their professionalism.
Whom Do You Trust? Evaluating a Web Site's Reliability
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Objectivity
  • Timeliness
Beyond the Basics
  • E-mail
  • Newsgroups
  • Blogs
  • The ability to observe events accurately and record details faithfully is the secret to great reporting.
  • Sight
  • Sound
  • Action
  • Emotion
  • What's the best way to record the facts and quotes you gather for a story? It all starts with your notebook.
  • A typical page in a reporter's notebook
  • Which is the best way to take notes? A look at the pros and cons of:
    • notebooks
    • tape recorders
    • typing


Ask Yourself: "Which Type of Interview Should This Be?"

  • Long, formal interview
  • Quick phoner
  • Walkaround
  • On-the-fly chat
  • Backgrounder
Tips for Successful Interviews: Before, During and After
  • Setting up the interview
  • Preparing for the interview
  • During the interview
  • After the interview

Always Strive for Racial and Gender Balance

"On the Record," "Off the Record," "On Background" and "On Deep Background"

  • Quotes make stories more appealing and believable.
  • How do you use quotes in a story?
    • Direct quotes
    • Partial quotes
    • Paraphrasing
    • Dialogues
Advice and Suggestions
  • Problems to avoid when using quotes in stories (eight tips)
  • Punctuation advice for using quotes in stories
  • Collect facts, opinions and quotes from the best possible sources—then attribute them.

Nine Guidelines for Wording and Positioning Attributions

Should It Be "Said" or "Says"?

  • News stories are almost always written in the past tense.
  • But the present tense is appropriate for reviews, feature stories and broadcast newswriting.

Examples of Attribution in a Typical News Story

  • Using figures can help make your stories more relevant and readable.
  • A brief review of:
    • calculating percentages
    • figuring the mean and the median
    • working with polls and surveys
  • Reporter's Guide to Information Charts and Graphs:
    • pie charts
    • line charts
    • bar charts
    • fast facts

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