February 10, 2012
There is a reason why journalists must study journalism before any serious news outlet even considers hiring them. That is because journalism involves more than simply observing and reporting in your own words. However, there are bloggers abound who operate news blogs, or write news blog posts, that never studied journalism and it shows. It may seem harmless, but humans have a nasty habit of believing anything they read at face value. This includes news blogs. These same readers then regurgitate what they’ve read on their own blogs, and the snowball effect gets under way. These bloggers would benefit from learning the following things that every journalist already knows:
This is of prime importance. To avoid perpetuating false information, you must make sure that you have the facts 100% accurate or at the very least mention that your information was of the “to the best of my knowledge” type. In the newspaper industry, multiple people check and re-check all the factual information in a reporter’s story before printing it. Of course, many bloggers don’t have the luxury of an office staff, but a good substitute would be to check at least 2 independent sources.
News is News, Opinion is Opinion
If you are writing a news piece, you should remain as objective as possible throughout. The intended purpose of news is to offer the reader the facts, so they can then decide for themselves how they feel about it. Stick to the facts, don’t embellish, or sensationalize anything; that is the hallmark of a good news writer and blogger.
Strive for Balance
Even if you just report the facts, be sure to get facts from both sides of the issue whenever possible. Without intending to do so, you could influence the reader’s opinion by omitting the facts from the other side of the equation. For instance, has there ever been a time where you were bombarded with news about a particular issue and formed a strong opinion just from what you’ve read, but then later on heard new information that made you go “Wait a minute! I didn’t know that, this changes the whole issue”? So, just by reporting one side (even though all of it was factual) of the issue, the writer persuaded you by just omitting facts from the opposing view. Good news writers and bloggers don’t do that.
These 3 core concepts are the foundation of every good news writer and blogger. Just because you didn’t study journalism, if you write any kind of news then you are essentially a journalist. Hold yourself to the same standards, and you will be noticed for it.