Tag Archives: genre

Here’s how we teach creativity in journalism (and why it’s the 5th habit of successful journalists)

In the fifth in a series of posts on the seven habits of successful journalists, I explore how creativity can be developed in trainee journalists. You can read the posts on curiosity, scepticism, persistence and empathy here.

Describing journalism as a creative profession can cause discomfort for some reporters: we portray journalism as a neutral activity — “Just the facts” — different to fiction or arts that appear to ‘create something from nothing’.

But journalism is absolutely a creative endeavour: we must choose how to tell our stories: where to point the camera (literally or metaphorically), how to frame the shot, where to cut and what to retain and discard, and how to combine the results to tell a story succinctly, accurately and fairly (not always the story we set out to tell).

We must use creativity to solve problems that might prevent us getting the ‘camera’ in that position in the first place, to find the people with newsworthy stories to tell, to adapt when we can’t find the information we want, or it doesn’t say what we expected (in fact, factual storytelling requires an extra level of creativity given that we can only work with the truth).

All of those are creative decisions.

And before all of that, we must come up with ideas for stories too. The journalist who relies entirely on press releases is rightly sneered at: it is a sign of a lack of imagination when a reporter cannot generate their own ideas about where to look for news leads, or how to pursue those. Continue reading

An attempt to define blogging as a genre

Having asked previously “Can you define blogging without mentioning technology?” here is my attempt to do just that for a book chapter on blogging and journalism. Am I right? Have I missed something? Would love your comments on this short excerpt:

Blogging, above all else, is conversational. It is social. It is networked. There are two key features to the blog: links, and comments. Fail to include either, and you’re talking to yourself.

Blogging is also incomplete, open, and ongoing. It is about process, not product. It is about a shared space.

Only republishing print articles or broadcast journalism on a blog, for example, is not using the medium in any meaningful way – a process derisively called ‘shovelware’. Instead, a more useful approach is to blog about an idea for an article, then blog a draft version, asking for readers’ input – and responding to it – at both stages. The published or broadcast version can also be posted on the blog later, as the latest stage in its production, but again with an invitation for updates and corrections. You might publish the ‘uncut’ version, too.

In short, the story is never finished.

And blogging is personal and informal – often difficult for journalists who have been trained for years to be objective and removed from their stories. This personal quality has a number of strengths: it allows you to make a closer connection with readers, which in turn often helps build your understanding of the issues that matter to them. It allows you to be more transparent about the news production process, building trust and news literacy. And it allows you a space for reflection, if you choose to use it.