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#Tip: Learn how to use Weibo to find Chinese stories

March 31st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Social media has become a vital tool for distributing content and its growing usefulness in finding stories and sources makes it a key part of the modern journalist’s toolbox.

Self-proclaimed social newswire Storyful has made a business out of finding stories on social media, far beyond the mainstream of Facebook and Twitter, and shared some tips on the subject recently.

In a blog post looking at how to “discover content” on Chinese social network Weibo, Storyful’s Sophia Xu said “its integration with other social platforms make it the first place where Chinese users spread news and share viral stories”.

The whole thing is well worth a read if you’re looking to find stories that may not have made it into the English-language media.

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#Tip: Watch this quick video on riot safety for journalists

March 24th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Kiev, Caracas, Istanbul… London? It is difficult to predict when or how a protest may turn into a riot, so the best policy is to be prepared for anything.

The BBC runs public order awareness courses through its College of Journalism, and in this video Mal Geer, who runs the course, explains some of the basics between hurling abuse and tennis balls at trainees. Still, it is better to practice dodging tennis balls with a camera on your shoulder than figuring out the best plan of action when it’s a brick.

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#Tip: Remember these 10 tips for interviewing

March 21st, 2014 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Despite all the modern talk of data and visualisations, great stories always need to be anchored by a human element, so the ability to talk to people openly – and have them do so in return – is vital to a journalist’s work.

These ten tips on interview technique on corporate communications site Ragan, written by former newspaper editor turned writing coach Daphne Gray-Grant, cover the bases: getting great quotes, wading through jargon, note-taking advice and more.


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#Tip: Remember these digital ethics issues for journalism

March 20th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists


Digital journalism brings up a whole new world of ethical issues that don’t apply in print. Copyright and social media are foremost among them as the wealth of available images, video and information, both true and false, make up much of what constitutes the online media.

Digital First Media’s Aimee Heckel, the self-styled ‘Modern Lois Lane‘, spoke with senior colleague Ivan Lajara for a recent post discussing six digital ethics issues and how to navigate through them.

Some of the examples may be America-specific but the conclusions are relevant to journalists everywhere and are well worth bearing in mind when using online material.

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#Tip: Advice from Twitter on tweet engagement

March 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Simon Rogers, Twitter’s head of data, posted a data analysis on the social network’s media blog last week, looking at the statistics of what drives engagement in the fleeting world of Twitter.

The effects of photos, hashtags, links, quotes, video and numbers included in the tweets of more than two million verified accounts were assessed by data scientist Douglas Mason, explained Rogers. All of the above had a positive impacet, but depending on the type of account and the industry they work in, some are more effective than others.

The Twitter data team wrote up individual posts for each industry they looked at to give a more detailed analysis of the breakdown in engagement stats and warned that although the new data is useful, it should not dictate an overall social media policy.

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#Tip: 5 pieces of advice for getting into music journalism

March 10th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

A lot of young journalists have a passion for music but it’s not always easy to translate that passion into a career. This recent blog post from Haulix gives some helpful tips on how to start, while a feature and podcast from last year goes into yet more detail.

It is a competitive industry at the best of times but bearing these thoughts in mind and putting them into practice should help to sweeten the pill.


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Tip: How to do vox pops

February 25th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by M. Keefe on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Image by M. Keefe on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Vox pops are a rite of passage for many young journalists. They are a good way of crowdsourcing information on topical issues, but approaching complete strangers can feel a bit awkward – especially for reporters who are first starting out.

Wannabe Hacks has listed five tips for doing vox pops (which stems from the Latin vox populi, “voice of the people”). They include:

1. Try to avoid “any obvious eye contact” before approaching someone
2. Hide your Dictaphone or microphone as you approach, to avoid scaring people off
3. Be confident and polite

You can read the full blog here.

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#Tip: Here’s how you can password protect a Google form

February 11th, 2014 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists


Google’s range of document formats in Drive have a lot of use for journalists, as the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism’s director of education, Jeremy Caplan, describes in this Google doc.

Google forms are particularly useful in crowdsourcing information and automatically organising it into a spreadsheet, so have been used by Pro Publica, for example, to gather information and sources around stories or by Digital First Media to canvas opinion within organisation about future plans.

Google forms are public by default, so if the questions or topics are sensitive for any reason the platform is a bit of a non-starter.

On his Digital Inspiration blog, Amit Agarwal has posted a simple how-to guide on password protecting Google forms from within the form itself. It is not 100 per cent secure, as Agarwal explains, but will deter any passing visitors.

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#Tip: How to cover breaking news

February 7th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by Wiertz Sebastien on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Image by Wiertz Sebastien on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A new e-book from Poynter highlights tips from award-winning journalists for covering breaking news stories.

The Denver Post’s new director Kevin Dale offers advice following lessons learned from the Post’s coverage of the Aurora cinema shootings – a story that broke around 1am when only the night digital producer was left in the newsroom.

Dale’s tips include verifying information – even when its developing fast, listening to social media and having a pre-prepared plan to help with difficult decisions, in this case, whether or not the Post should name the shooter.


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#Tip: How journalists can run a successful blog

February 6th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists


Blogging can be a good way for journalists to showcase their knowledge and skills. But how can you make it a success?

Political blogger Susie Boniface (@fleetstreetfox), food blogger Claire Macdonald and Mumsnet editor Kate Williams were among the panellists at a recent Women in Journalism event where speakers discussed how journalists can benefit from running a blog.

Their advice includes tips on targeting your audience, writing a killer headline, platforms to use and how to make the most of social media.

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