Middles and endings of long features are no less tricky than the beginnings you can spend so much time writing and rewriting. Often people fall back on particular habits which may not quite ‘work’ for the story being told.
Telling a story in chronological order, for example, is not always the most effective approach. Stories where the action is not equally dispersed chronologically can ‘sag’ in these cases and the momentum of a strong beginning get lost.
In those situations a storyteller with a varied toolbox might use places, or themes, or scenes, to keep that momentum going instead. Continue reading →
Beginnings are notoriously tricky for any writer. For news reporters the advice is simple: start with the ‘new’ thing in your story, and make sure there is a verb in there: a person has said something; a report has revealed something; authorities are looking for someone, warning about something, planning to do something; and so on.
But in longform and feature writing the approach is more subtle. Although we can choose to report that something has been ‘revealed’ right at the start, this risks removing tension from the story and leading the reader to abandon it before they have the full picture.
Instead, then, journalists use a number of techniques to keep the reader engaged across a longer format — with the important implied promise that the story is going to be worth it.
So, for anyone struggling to think of a way to start a longer story — or feel that you can improve the approach you’ve chosen — I’ve pulled together seven types of beginning that are used in longform reporting and feature writing, with some considerations to bear in mind — and plenty of examples. Continue reading →
This year I’ve been working with my MA Data Journalism and MA Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism students on techniques for telling longer form stories. In this post I explain how a consideration of seven common plot types can help you clarify what story it is you’re telling – and what you might need to tell that.
There are many ways to tell a story, and many stories to tell. An investigation can be trying to establish the cause of a problem, or solutions to that problem; it can be revealing previously hidden unethical behaviour, or shining a light on issues which are ‘hidden in plain sight’; it can be holding a mirror up to a part of society to reveal its scale; or giving a voice to that part of society as a step towards a more sophisticated understanding of problems affecting it. And depending on the type of story, you might adopt different approaches to telling it. Continue reading →
Emma Youle speaking at the Data Journalism UK conference in 2017 – photo by Wan Ulfa Nur Zuhra
As Archant’s award-winning Emma Youleannounces she is to leave local newspapers to join Huffington Post UK as a special correspondent. Victoria Oliveres spoke to the investigative journalist about setting up local investigations, using data, and campaigning.
We’ve managed to pack in networked data journalism and investigations, automation and the internet of things, and some practical sessions too, with my new MA Data Journalism students pitching in to help.
Tickets are available here including early bird and afternoon-only options, but you’ll need to be quick — the event sold out last year.
A few weeks ago I announced that I was launching a new MA in Data Journalism, and promised that I would write more about the thinking behind it. Here, then, are some of the key ideas underpinning the new course — from coding and storytelling to security and relationships with industry — and how they have informed its development. Continue reading →
Journalism activities range from scoping out a field through to investigating for ‘scoops’
How do journalists find stories? How do we test whether a story is as good as it could be? How do we get better as journalists?
The image above is my attempt to answer these questions. It maps out the six activities that journalists undertake as part of their workflow, in order of value: from scoping a field or subject, through to relaying information to a wider audience, responding to or attending news events, seeking new information and experiences, and investigating. Continue reading →
“The AP tracked Schock’s reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman’s penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock’s office and campaign records.”
@vanboos yes, used Instagram's API calls. I'd indeed call them metadata we had to extract, in the common use of the word.
The article explains that “earlier rules prohibited lawmakers from using … accounts to pay for flights on private aircraft, allowing payments only for federally licensed charter and commercial flights.”
The latest in the series of FAQ posts comes from a student in Germany who is interested in how investigative journalism is affected by the financial situation of publishers, and how it might develop in the next decade.Continue reading →
It is common to hear attacks on journalists mentioned at these events, but rare to hear an old-fashioned hack like MacFadyen also talk about the “growing number of hackers being imprisoned”, while noting the commonalities of a desire for a free press, free speech, and “a free internet”. Continue reading →