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#Tip: A simple guide to creating interactive visuals

August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by Thinkstock

Image by Thinkstock

Including an interactive to your story can add a lot of depth to the piece, as well as help package complex information into a more accessible format.

NetNewsCheck published an introduction to working with such visuals, and recommended tools like Prezi and NewHive.

The post also suggests five practical tips and gives examples of how interactive images can be used by digital journalists.

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#Tip: the big list of headline formulas for the web

August 21st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
By mkhmarketing on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

By mkhmarketing on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

If a headline isn’t up to scratch, the quality of the content might not even matter as the audience could swiftly move on to the next article.

This is even more important online, where sometimes you get under 140 characters to convince people to click through the link in your Tweet and read, watch, or listen to your work.

This post on Buffer is a collection of more than 30 efficient headline formulas to use when writing articles, blog posts, or social media updates. It goes way beyond the classic listicle, and explains what makes the ultimate headline.

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#Tip: ways to get the best exposure when taking iPhone photos

August 20th, 2014 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
By AshtonPal on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

By AshtonPal on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Having a smartphone in your pocket can mean having access to a wide variety of content production tools.

Sometimes extra downloads aren’t even needed. For example, the native camera on the iPhone can take great photos if used to its full potential.

This tutorial from the iPhone Photography School outlines ten ways to get the best exposure when taking pictures with the smartphone.

It also explains that, while exposure can be adjusted in editing, getting it right as the photos are being taken makes for a better result.

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#Tip: How to use BuzzSumo to monitor social analytics

August 18th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Screengrab from

Screengrab from

Knowing which stories get the most attention from social media is a big step in finding out what type of content audiences want from a certain media outlet.

Sarah Marshall, social media editor EMEA at the Wall Street Journal, recently wrote about five ways she uses BuzzSumo, a free analytics tool for social.

Although BuzzSumo was not created specifically for journalists, it allows users to see who’s engaging with a particular article, who the influencers in a chosen field are, and much more.

The set of tools it brings to the table will, as Marshall wrote, make social media editors love it.

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#Tip: Responsible reporting of suicide

August 12th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

The death of Robin Williams has shocked the world as a tragic end to the life of one of the most talented and troubled performers of the last forty years.

Initial reports suspect suicide, and while it is unwise to jump to conclusions before the coroner has confirmed a cause of death, high profile reporting of suicide can have indirect effects on the mental health of readers and viewers who may suffer with similar problems.

These ‘recommendations for reporting on suicide‘ from support group the American Association of Suicidology offer some important points on how best to treat instances of suicide in news coverage.

In the UK, the Samaritans have guidelines on best practice for reporting instances of suicide, and detail the regulations and codes of practice from Ofcom and the Press Complaints Comission.

As the recommendations attest, suicide is a complex issue, but is not one that people have to deal with alone. There are always others who are willing to help and the Samaritans (UK) or US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US) are good places to start.

A tip of the hat to the Wall Street Journal’s Mark Kelly for bringing this to our attention.

Update: This article has been updated with links to the Samaritan’s guidelines. Thanks to the Guardian’s James Ball for pointing them out.

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#Tip: Always give your news writing the ‘who says’ test

August 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Top tips for journalists


News reporting should always be three things: objective, balanced and accurate. At least that’s what most young reporters are told, but it only takes a cursory glance over the daily news to realise this isn’t always the case.

There is often more to it than that too, as these nine core principles of journalism from the Pew Research Centre will attest, but new reporters starting out in the field need to remember to leave themselves out of the story, even if they have a strong opinion on the topic.

This post from Don Ray at Media Helping Media covers ‘Attribution 101′ and is aimed at cub reporters or trainees but is reminder to all journalists, especially in the age of social media, to question where their information is coming from.

His main points:

  • Your opinion doesn’t count
  • If the answer to the ‘who says’ question is you, lose that line from the story
  • Every statement and piece of information needs to be verified, sourced and attributed
  • The real journalism starts in finding the truth behind different accounts

Read the full post here.

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#Tip: 5 investigative reporting pointers from a Pulitzer Prize winner

August 6th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by Ivy Dawned on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by Ivy Dawned on Flickr. Some rights reserved

The New York Times’s David Barstow is a serious journalist.

On top of a raft of other prizes, Barstow has won three Pulitzer Prizes in the last ten years while at the Times: the first awarded to the outlet in 2004 for his work uncovering the regular breach of basic safety rules by US employers; the second in 2009 for exposing the Bush administration’s manipulation of the media; and a third last year for showing how Wal-Mart had bribed its way to market dominance in Mexico.

These types of stories don’t fall into a journalist’s lap but take skill, talent and hard graft to pursue.

In a recent interview over at Poynter, Barstow shared some of his tips and advice for starting out, dealing with tricky sources, storytelling, and a few psychological tricks for getting the most out of an interview.


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#Tip: Responsible reporting of child abuse

August 5th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Reporting on instances of child abuse, or stories involving children in general, pose a range of editorial questions around a child’s safety, privacy, future, and overall wellbeing.

A recent front-page story from The Sun – “Boy, 4 has mark of devil” – provoked outrage from MPs as the child was named and pictured.

Some Twitter users expressed further concern in suggesting the target-shaped mark, which had disappeared over a month before publication, could have been caused by a hairdryer burn.

Given such potential pitfalls and the repercussions publication could have on a child’s life, this recent article and video from the BBC Academy of Journalism hears from the NSPCC’s head of strategy Lisa Harker, offering guidelines in reporting cases of child abuse.

It also includes links to the BBC editorial guidelines and a separate report from BBC social affairs correspondent Alison Holt on responsibly involving children in reports and the wider public conversation.


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#Tip: Remember these 30 third-party Twitter tools for journalists

August 4th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Twitter has changed the way journalists find stories and distribute their work, but the wealth of usable information goes beyond the tweets themselves.

Twitter UK’s head of news, Joanna Geary, put together this list of third-party tools for journalists that lets the user go deeper into Twitter data: who follows who, analysis of Twitter bio, trending topics, geolocating tweets, managaing lists and much more.

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#Tip: Five steps to doing data journalism on a budget

June 4th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

High-end data journalism is a specialised discipline but the basics of telling stories with numbers are accessible to anyone with a passing interest in the news.

Over at portfolio platform Contently, Sam Petulla put together this handy guide to getting started in data journalism. You may not have a background in advanced statistics or be able to build interactives with a range of programming languages, but you can use data to make the news. The key is getting started.

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