What should be the job of an ideal Internet journalist and what mistakes we all make sometimes. 140 short tips that are useful for both online journalists and ordinary.
Alexander Amzin, who worked for several years as an editor of the economic and then IT-edition of Lenta.ru, and now a manager for work with foreign media at Yandex, has published a book about what the job of an ideal Internet journalist should be and what mistakes we all make sometimes.
By the end of 2010, the Internet news journalism on my computer numbered as many as 300 thousand characters. Quite a voluminous work, a lot of letters. Not everyone has time to read it. Realizing this, I decided to arrange the book in the now fashionable microblogging format. Below you will find 140 short tips that I hope will be useful for both online journalists and ordinary people.
The structure of the news
1. Come up with a headline or draft before you write the news, not after.
2. Include a verb in your title.
3. The verb in the title cannot be in the present tense. News is something that has already happened or an announcement of something in the making.
4. Do not intrigue, specify. The headline "The President Perished" has no right to exist in the Russian edition, if we are talking about the President of Zimbabwe.
5. Don't sacrifice heading correctness at all for slash.
6. Do not copy other people's headlines: other people's thoughts are harder to think than your own.
7. Read the message from the source. Set aside the text. Write the news blindly. Repeat.
8. Write the main thing first, then the rest. The main thing is expressed in the title.
9. Try to use at least two sources in your news.
10. Do not repeat the same facts in the same news.
11. If after reading the news you have questions, rewrite the news.
12. If questions remain, but there is no answer to them, write about it.
13. If the answer to your question is within the range of a phone call, make this call.
14. Think about the structure of the article after the initial fact-finding, not before.
15. Answer at least the main questions of the reader: who, what, where, when, why and why.
16. Find the background. Share it with the reader, clarify the context of what is happening.
17. The text of the news should not contain your personal relationship. Emotions are unacceptable.
18. Your news should be pleasant to you, otherwise it is hack and empty.
19. Moreover, if you do not like the text, the reader will not like it either.
20. Use microcharacteristics - name a politician in the text a politician, and a film producer - a film producer.
21. Put all the data in 4-6 paragraphs, if you can't - write an article.
22. You are not writing text, but hypertext. Be sure to include links wherever they are important for understanding your words and reasoning.
23. The news should be liked the first time, because it is read only once.
24. Do not confuse the truth with information: your text only reflects the messages of sources, and not the real state of affairs.
Translation and foreign languages
1. Never use an automatic translator.
2. The only exception: when there is no one around who knows the language, and you need to understand at least the general meaning of what is written.
3. Avoid English cripples like “make the call” in one of the tips above.
4. Never limit yourself to the first meaning of a word in the dictionary.
5. Look in dictionaries and the meanings of Russian words, so as not to inadvertently connect the right hand with the gums, but the forehead with the jaw.
6. Always look up the meaning of unfamiliar words in the dictionary, even if they seem familiar.
7. Knowing business English does not mean you can understand art history or computer text.
8. Talk to foreigners as much as possible in their language. These are free lessons in your specialty.
9. Many of your colleagues out of laziness read only Russian-language sources. Using overseas gives you a strong competitive advantage.
Ethics and relations with press services
1. Go to press conferences only when it will benefit the publication.
2. Don't waste time on buffets, waste it on questions.
3. Let the PR people send you everything they have. You will take it yourself.
4. Do not be lazy to call the press secretary to clarify or verify the information.
5. Do not be lazy to check the press release itself in other sources.
6. Always look for the original source, do not rely on other people's retellings.
7. Do not hide your contacts from PR people - they are useful.
8. Regardless of the circumstances, respect the PR-service embargo.
9. Exception to the embargo rule: already leaked from competitors.
10. Do not disclose your sources, who wished to remain anonymous, to any outsider.
11. Write letters asking for comment before you sit down to the article. If after forty minutes there is no answer, call there.
12. Request by mail, if successful, will give you a ready-made text. A phone call will lead to a prompt response, but it will require additional approvals.
13. Know companies whose press offices do not comment on the phone.
14. Do not accept expensive gifts if they are sent without asking, try to send back.
15. Know your rights, do not give in to unreasonable demands to correct the material.
16. Never copy text from anyone.
1. There is no comma between the subject and the predicate.
2. Don't rely on an editor and proofreader. The first one checks the consistency of the text, and the second one checks the text. They shouldn't cover up your flaws.
3. Check facts and arithmetic calculations. Especially the calculations. Both ours and strangers.
4. Reread what you have written.
5. Don't be angry with colleagues who are editing your text. They wish you well.
6. Don't rely on automatic spell checking.
7. Forget about the "green underscore" - an automatic grammar checker.
8. Know your favorite parasite words, get rid of them and keep them out of the news.
9. It is better to try to break sentences longer than a line or two into several parts. Replace commas with periods.
10. Paragraphs should not seem like a wall of text. Consider them as a thought expanded in 3-4 sentences.
11. Read your news story out loud. Rewrite where you stumbled.
12. When proofreading, you can also read the words in the sentence from the end - this will not allow you to swallow the text.
13. If you are confusing "tsya" and "tsya", seriously consider changing your profession.
14. The same applies to the words “the same” and “the same”, “the same” and “also”, the expressions “you write” and “you write” and, of course, “what” and “what”.
15. Remove from the text the constructions “should be”, “maybe”, “in this way”, “however”, “that”, “in addition”, “by the way”, “in particular”, “for example”, “So".
16. If you are sending a text for proofreading to a person who does not know you well, try to make it (the text) look decent on the outside.
17. Brush your interview submission in a way that is enjoyable to read.
18. Never correct direct speech. If you need to convey only the general meaning, and not the conso-language of the newsmaker, use indirect speech.
19. The main rule of the proofreader: no matter how many errors have been corrected in the text, there is always one more. In the previous paragraph, for example, there is. Have you noticed?
20. Work on your style. Start your work by reading Nora Gal's book "The Word Living and the Dead".
21. Do not string the same parts of speech on top of each other: "The commission for the modernization of housing construction in the region, according to the governor's decree, has started …".
22. Try to abbreviate titles.
23. Use synonyms extensively.
24. Do not be lazy to visit gramota.ru regularly.
25. Try to write stylistically neutral, cross out "for", "this", "superb" and other archaisms.
26. Avoid exclamation marks and dots.
27. Try to make words less bold, italicized and underlined.
28. Check place names and names, kill yourself against the wall for "Bedjing", "Mumbai", "Thailand" and "Hong Kong".
Blogosphere and other social media
1. Register in all social networks and blog hosting sites that you can reach.
2. Read blogs - this is a lively reaction to the events of people who did not get into the media.
3. Don't trust bloggers - they are biased.
4. The most popular bloggers are often the most commercial and most venal bloggers.
5. Half of the scandalous posts you see on blogs are paid for. Keep this in mind when linking to someone.
6. Be aware of all major blogging conflicts.
7. Review of the press, blogs and whatever else is not a protocol or an inventory of property. Don't let the reader get bored.
8. Blog reviews are best built on a lot of links - your opinion is not as interesting to the reader as the opportunity to click on your words.
9. Prepare a storyline that your review will follow.
10. Do not make biased selections - this is very noticeable against the background of the blogosphere.
11. The establishment of a blog or a page on a social network by a newsmaker is a news occasion no worse than others.
12. Deletion - too.
13. Learn the slang of the participants of certain resources. Know firmly what “wall”, “retweet” and “friend” are.
14. Try to read blogs and microblogs of government officials, they have a lot of interesting things.
15. Be aware that these blogs are often run by specially hired blog secretaries - under dictation or on their own.
Skills, tricks, productivity
1. Learn the query language, interface and capabilities of your favorite search engine. Apply this knowledge daily.
2. Don't be limited to one search engine.
3. Learn HTML - it will come in handy regardless of your future career.
4. Know the keyboard shortcuts for your operating system. Showed curiosity will be credited to you.
5. Take a day to explore the advanced features of a word processor and spreadsheet program. You will discover many new things.
6. Try not to use exotic software - you work with people who are used to reading documents in a browser and writing in Microsoft Word.
7. The most useful status in the messenger is “Very busy”.
8. Ask the build editor to make an illustration as soon as you decide on a title. He will have more time for a good job.
9. Maximum productivity is reached after 15 minutes of continuous operation. Don't be interrupted.
10. Add to the text and to the text only what will add value to the material.
11. If this or that site does not open from your computer, do not rush to write news. Check it out - it might work for other users.
12. Choose the fastest browser. By the end of 2010, such browsers were Chrome and Opera. In 2011, Internet Explorer 9 is to be added to the list.
13. Actively use browser tabs, view several web pages at once, compare them with each other.
14. If you often have to work with two documents, put two monitors or one, but very large.
15. Choose music that distracts you from outside noise and stimulates your productivity.
16. Don't clutter up your workspace - your brain gets distracted whether or not you are aware of it.
17. Alternate big tasks with small ones. Switch to something simple for a short time after completing something complex.
eighteen. Calculate the time. Don't promise to be deadline if you know that it usually takes two hours to finalize the first draft.
19. You are responsible for the reference data you provide. Therefore, try not to resort to Wikipedia as an authority on controversial issues.
20. Make a to-do list and start with the worst.
21. Use a program like Dropbox (dropbox.com) to have all your files and articles close at hand.
22. If you take a lot of notes, use a sync program like Evernote (evernote.com).
23. Do not rely on flash drives, disks, notes.
24. If you understand that you will not write about any specific topic, tell the interlocutor the magic word "informat".
25. Don't change genre while writing - it won't end well.
Monitoring and news events
1. Subscribe to the most authoritative publications and blogs on your topic. Read them every day.
2. Start the morning with newspapers, spend the evening with the final programs.
3. Finding that you are unconsciously avoiding certain topics, correct this deficiency and see what happens.
4. If you are writing about something special, do not forget to read the regular news.
5. Discover RSS readers, and in particular - Google Reader.
6. Sort your sources by topic, geography, importance. Do not read the Bulletin of Uryupinsk and Bloomberg news in one feed.
7. Always try to see in the news another informational source, and not the one that the agency put in the headline.
8. Decide on your priorities: news marked "urgent" is not always urgent, and "important" is not always important.
9. When monitoring, pay attention not to what is interesting to you, but to what is interesting to the audience.
10. The news occasion often depends on the newsmaker and not on the action. The awarding of an order to a war criminal is more important than any other award of the same order.
11. The original source is the first source that communicated information, not the one that you first read and understood.
12. The most interesting things often appear in the aggregators, but only a few hours after it happened.
13. If the news of a Russian agency concerns foreign countries, in 99 percent of cases it has a foreign source.
14. Provide yourself with press releases and official news of the organizations and companies you are interested in - subscribe to their mailings.
15. Once a week, take a walk on sites completely unknown to you.
16. Look at the links that friends and colleagues send you. Perhaps their sources are more convenient and interesting than yours.
1. If you have an assistant, supervise him, but do not do the work for him.
2. Calculate your strength. You are not a demigod, the liver, heart and nerves are not eternal.
3. At the same time, do not feel sorry for yourself, it will only lower your productivity and prolong your suffering.
4. Watch the latest films, read new books, it will always come in handy.
5. In communicating with the reader, be correct - you have no moral right to public rudeness.
6. Take threats seriously.
7. If you do not know why you are doing this or that action, do not do it.