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Journalism 101: Consider your timing

November 18, 2009

One thing about editing vox-pops which may have escaped your notice: going over the same clips time and time again has the effect of rooting the words of your contributors deep into the recesses of your mind.

So much so, you could even find yourself waking up in the middle of the night reciting what the BBC’s Director of Global News said in the briefest of interviews seven days ago. What I took from that series of interviews was how important error checking is to the journalist. The words echo around my head. It’s a mantra now.

It’s the same with freelance journalist Adam Westbrook who I met up with yesterday.

If you want to find out about an industry, speak to the people who work in it. Speak to the people who speak or write about it. Follow your instincts. Find out what they have to say.

Inevitably, I fell into that oh-so-predictable trap of not pressing the record button before I engaged in a thought-provoking discussion about the future of journalism. Adam and I met for an hour, although all you’re seeing in the video is six minutes we recorded after our conversation.

Still, there’s something which resonates after our conversation. If there’s a question about the future of journalism as there has been for twelve months now, there are distinct opportunities which lay ahead.

Strip journalism down to its constituent parts. It’s nothing more than storytelling. Like prime-time dramas, successful storytelling is measured by the attention it gets.

The likelihood of audience attention is increased when a story engages with people. And sometimes engaging with people needs to be done in an unexpected way.

The same can be said for journalism. If you want people to pay attention to your story, you’re going to need to connect with them, be it visually, audibly or on the internet. Just like drama or entertainment, that may mean a change to the traditions of visual language, for example.

And if that’s the case, that opens the opportunities wide to a great many more individuals whose aptitude is not judged solely on their years of experience but on their grasp of the core skills.

Now that … that is an exciting prospect.




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