Empathy is the first stage of design thinking. Image: Mike Boyson
In the fourth of a series of post on seven habits often associated with good journalism I look at a quality which is much less talked about, and often misunderstood — and why I believe it should be just as central as qualities such as persistence or curiosity.
Empathy — specifically cognitive empathy — is the ability to imagine what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes.
It is one of the more underrated qualities of good journalists, perhaps because people often confuse it with sympathy, or with emotional empathy.
The difference is important: it is possible to imagine what it is like to be a particular person (cognitive empathy), including criminals and corrupt officials, without feeling sorry for them (sympathy) or feeling the same way (emotional empathy). Continue reading
You may have seen a cute little Twitter hack — popularised by Andy Baio — which allows you to roll back the years and recreate a decade-old Twitter timeline. The twist is that you’ll be seeing updates from people who you may not have been following at the time but discovered later.
Nostalgia aside, the same technique could be used by journalists to track what was being said by any particular group of interest at a particular point in time. Here’s how. Continue reading
One of the most dreaded assignments in journalism has always been the death knock: the job of knocking on the door of someone affected by tragedy.
In the pre-Internet era, the death knock would typically fall to someone at the local newspaper; and, perhaps, reporters from a news agency or two would also come knocking. In some cases, journalists from the nationals, broadcasters and magazines would arrive too.
It was rarely pretty. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t justified.
Now the nature of the death knock has changed. In web parlance, it has scaled. And the problem is: it doesn’t scale well. Continue reading
Neil Smith is an investigative researcher and open source intelligence trainer. In this interview, originally posted on the Help Me Investigate blog, he gives his tips for using online sources to follow people and verify information.