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I’ve already talked about the basics of writing a lead, and the idea that it should summarize the main points of the story using the 5W’s and the H. But experienced reporters know there’s another important element to writing a lead – grabbing the reader’s attention. After all, journalists are writing to be read, and with the lead they have one chance to convince the news consumer to dive into their story. To do this you must figure out which element of a story is most newsworthy and interesting, and make that that the focus of your lead. Start by looking at the 5W’s andRead More →

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When Xi Jinping was named president of China in 2013, experts were hopeful that he might begin to liberalize the Communist Party regime, opening the door to a new era of press freedom and expanded civil liberties. But they were wrong. Not only has Xi not loosened the reins of government control, in many ways he has turned back the clock, ushering in a troubling time in which press freedom in the world’s most populous country is under attack. Here are just a few recent examples of how the authoritarian Chinese regime controls the news media: When a series of explosions at an industrial complexRead More →

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So you’re in college and have decided you want to someday be a journalist. But you’re not sure what you should be doing now to increase your chances of landing a job in the news business after graduation. Fear not. I’ve been working in journalism, either as a reporter, editor or professor, for over 30 years. I’ve counseled dozens of students on what they can do to increase their marketability in the job market. Here are the five things I tell them to do, and while I can’t guarantee that these measures will work, they will certainly increase your chances. Write for your student newspaperRead More →

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With great power comes great responsibility, the saying goes. And in the United States, the press has an enormous amount of power and yes, responsibility. That’s because the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates that the press not be controlled by the government, in contrast to many countries around the world, where press freedom is either severely curtailed or nonexistent. That unparalleled level of freedom has made the American news media very powerful. But that doesn’t mean reporters can simply publish anything they want, and in the U.S., libel law is where the power of the press and its responsibilities intersect. So every reporterRead More →

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Associated Press style is the standard format used by the vast majority of print and online news outlets in the U.S. No one expects you to memorize the AP Stylebook, but you should start checking it when you you write your stories. Over time, you’ll start to memorize the most commonly used AP style points. Here is a cheat sheet that covers some of those points. Numbers one to nine are generally spelled out 10 and above are generally numerals but there are exceptions… Units of measurement and dimensions are always written as numerals: That board is 32 inches long. Percentages are always numerals: InflationRead More →