<![CDATA[new media at SBC · Storify]]>https://storify.com/SBCnewmediaNodeJS RSS ModuleWed, 24 May 2017 09:46:08 GMT<![CDATA[Investigative Journalism: Getting Started]]>

Writing an investigative article can be daunting for many reasons, but getting started is often the hardest part.

Storified by new media at SBC · Thu, Nov 15 2012 19:44:27

The first step is to select a topic, which you have already done (right?).  The next is to ask yourself: what is the news value of this story?  What question or questions will it answer, or what issue or issues will it bring to light and help the reader make sense of?
Step two is to set the scene for the reader.  It helps to read some good examples of investigative journalism.  The Center for Investigative Journalism is a good place to start.  ProPublica is an independent investigative news organization, which has taken the journalism world by storm due to one of its reporters (Sheri Fink) winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.  Note how Fink hooks us right away with a narrative lede.  Note also how she then goes straight into a nut graf.
The Center for Investigative Reporting is another organization that has recently become a major player in the investigative/advocacy journalism world.  Check out this moving piece on women veterans who live on the street.  Like Fink, the author of this piece, Mimi Chakarova, begins her article creatively.
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<![CDATA[Is the press biased (and how do we know)?]]>

Since at least the 1960s, there has been a feverish debate over the extent to which the media is biased. What follows are some resources for beginning to tackle this thorny issue.

Storified by new media at SBC · Mon, Oct 01 2012 00:01:51

A good place to start is the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan organization that gathers data on the way Americans use media, perceive media, and are impacted by the media.
One way way of looking at bias is to look at how we understand our political views.  The Pew Research Center found that it is quite possible that our categories are "too simplistic."  Such a simplified view of political views could lead journalists and news organizations to skew their coverage toward the usual poles (liberal and conservative), which in turn further polarizes political debate, sacrificing any attempt at finding common ground.
A study just out this week suggests that geography shapes "your news diet," introducing yet another possible factor in the perception of media bias. 
Another way of looking at media bias is through the ways in which editorial agendas might be influenced by ownership.
This info-graphic illustrates the way in which media and culture is produced by only a handful of large conglomerates.
And then, of course, we must look at the professional culture of journalism itself and the behavior of individual journalists.  The two stories below illustrate the competition and in-fighting that exists among journalists, as well as the ways in which journalists come to feel entitled to access and information.
Noam Chomksy, Professor Emeritus in the department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT, has been writing about the issues surrounding media power and influence since the 70s.  He believes that the key to answering the question is in critiquing the entire institutional structure of the media.
The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News · challengingmedia
NPR's radio show On the Media just did a whole program investigating whether or not the station, which hosts the show, is biased.
Lastly, in what ways does this Storify seem biased?  What is left out?  Are there assumptions being made?  Does it take up an implied position?
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<![CDATA[Copy Editing]]>

Some advice and links to further reading that will help you become a better copy editor.

Storified by new media at SBC · Wed, Feb 22 2012 05:50:33

Look, copy editing is hard.  It's a skill that can be learned, but it takes lots of practice, and when you are first starting out it takes lots of patience.  Check out the Website of the American Copy Editors Society--yes, they have their own society.  This site is a good resource.
Check out the "Resource Links" page for lots of help hints and tips.
Your homework is to complete this editing test that will test your eye for common errors.
There are lots of guides and advice pages on the Web for copy editors.  One of the best and easiest it to use is on Purdue's OWL site.
But if you need something short and sweet to hang next to your computer, this is a good one.
Don't be discouraged by people who say that knowing the rules of grammar is nerdy, or obsessive compulsive.

Grammar: The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit.

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<![CDATA[Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning]]>

Storified by new media at SBC · Wed, Feb 08 2012 19:55:36

Tom Baker in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" · KarmStarkiller
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<![CDATA[Voice in Feature Writing]]>

Some pointers on how to develop your voice and revise your work with voice in mind.

Storified by new media at SBC · Wed, Feb 01 2012 17:41:17

It's important to be aware that everyone has advice on how to find your voice.  There are many books with good advice, but unless you actually take time to analyze your work and revise with honesty and clarity in mind, then your voice will sound fake, put-on. 
Susan Orlean, one of the most successful and famous feature writers of the last twenty years,  says that "finding" your voice is as much a matter of "unlearning" bad habits as it is learning new ones.  Orlean says of her famous article "The American Male at Age Ten" in which she adopts the voice of her subject, a ten year old boy, that it doesn't represent her fully mature voice, just an ability to write cleverly.  Check out Orlean's collection of profiles (below) for a sense of how her voice changed and matured over time.
The best advice I have about voice is akin to what Orlean says: it's more a process of pairing away, eliminating all of that bluster and "fluff" that stands in the way of honest writing.  And by honest I don't mean the opposite of lying, I mean lacking pretension--you mean what you say.  Much of our training as young writers feels more like performing for our teachers.  To write well you have to begin writing for yourself.  You have to see writing as way of figuring out what you think, not what other people want to hear.

The exercise below might be an interesting exercise for some of you.
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<![CDATA[Plagiarism at Sweet Briar]]>

This is an interactive guide to plagiarism and academic integrity at Sweet Briar College.

Storified by new media at SBC · Wed, Sep 26 2012 10:53:25

Striking.

The Student Handbook clearly lays out the College's plagiarism and academic honesty policies on pages 82 and 83.  The embedded handbook below is fully searchable.
Here's the example that the handbook uses to demonstrate plagiarism:

Original Material: Wuthering Heights is the most remarkable novel in English. It is perfect, and perfect in the rarest way: it is the complete bodying forth of an intensely individual apprehension of the nature of man and life. That is to say, the content is strange enough, indeed baffling enough, while the artistic expression of it is flawless. 

Student Version that constitutes plagiarism: The most remarkable novel in English is Wuthering Heights. It brings forth an individual apprehension of the nature of man and life; therefore it is perfect in the rarest way. The artistic expression is flawless, but the content is strange, indeed baffling.

Note how the student author retains much of the original language and syntax without quoting it.  That is plagiarism.  Writers must summarize in their own words or quote verbatim. 

Everyone has an opinion about plagiarism (and they're usually cynical and ignorant to, or in avoidance of, the larger issue of integrity):

Check out these videos for more on what plagiarism is and isn't.
What is Plagiarism? · wsuinst
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<![CDATA[Revising Investigative Articles]]>

Follow these steps and pieces of advice when revising your investigative articles. They will be due December 14th by 5 pm. Please post them to your personal blog, or share via Google docs.

Storified by new media at SBC · Thu, Dec 08 2011 15:37:19

1.) The lede.  Start with a strong lede, one that gets our attention, as well as focuses us right away on the issue you are investigating.  Check out these pointers on writing powerful ledes.
2.) Nut graf or grafs.  Here are couple of resources to help jog your memory about what a nut graf should do.  A good nuf graf (or grafs, if the issue is multi-faceted) introduces us to all the reasons why we should care.  

"Abuse of ADHD drugs has reached epidemic proportions due to a student culture that prides itself on multi-tasking and being over-involved.  However, students do not see the non-prescription use of the drugs as any big deal.' 
3.) Reportage, reportage, reportage.  There's no getting around it, you must talk to people who have knowledge of the issue you are writing about, and you must use what they say to show the reader how important, complex, and nuanced the issue at hand is.  

You can do this by balancing the direct quotes with summary and paraphrase.  If your story has vivid "characters" or striking imagery, don't be afraid to observe such details to create atmosphere.  

'I mean, it's not like it's crack or anything,' Susie Sweetbriar says while simultaneously texting a friend, and drinking a Red Bull. 'We shouldn't be punished for trying to be high achievers.'"
Recall the vivid details Jeanne Marie Laska shares in her GQ article Hecho in America.  Check out this article reflecting on Laska's article.

Quotes vs. Dialogue

Editor Tom Huang writes: "Quotes delay a story, because the reader has to step out of the narrative flow to process what’s being explained. Dialogue keeps the reader in the flow.

“While quotes provide information or explanation, dialogue thickens the plot,” Roy Peter Clark explains in “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies For Every Writer.” “The quote may be heard, but dialogue is overheard. The writer who uses dialogue transports us to a place and time where we get to experience the events described in the story.”  This might not apply to your article, but it might be of use, especially if you interviewed someone very colorful and interesting, or found yourself observing a group of people talking or doing something interesting.

4. Conclusion:  Ending anything is tough, but especially an article that contains several differing view points.  Many investigative writers find it useful to end with a direct quote that sums up the issue without trying to neatly resolve.

'I mean, it's not like it's crack or anything,' Susie Sweetbriar says while simultaneously texting a friend, and drinking a Red Bull. 'We shouldn't be punished for trying to be high achievers.'"

Sometimes a story lends itself to ending with an image.

"We're going to keep fighting," Hippie B. Protestin said, standing against a backdrop of crushed and dilapidated tents in a trash-littered Zucotti Square."
5.) Media: A picture is worth a thousand words.  A well-placed photo, video, or infographic can help to clarify confusing data or enable readers unfamiliar with the issue to create an image in their minds.
Seattle Police Pepper Spray OWS Protesters · new24x7
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