Reporting Workshop

Presenter: Jalingo

World is experiening rapid changes in the media.

Basic principles of good writing, accurate reporting, ethical behavior is timeless. Basic principles are the same.

Before limited access to reaching people. New media provides new ways.

Today we focus on citizen reporting

Our definiation of citizen reporting is: make sure you involve your readers in the process. We need the input of our readers.

Basic Skills and tips

Must ensure accuracy and credibility: core values. Even if someone killed my brother, my report must still be accurate and credible.

Seek Truth and report it. Test the accuracy of your information to avoid inadvertant error.

Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

If event starts at 12:00, a good reporter should be there at 11:30 am.

You must cover the body language, ambiance. Get informal information - good source.


First stage: Whatever you are reporting - start with the idea, with the direction. You should come with an idea.

While having an idea, you should also be flexible, keep your mind open. The story might change in the middle of reporting.

Second stage: Collect information.

Collect background information about the person you are going to interview. Background sources.

Don't rely on one source: get as many sources as possible.

Take more notes than you may need to use. Ask more questions than you may need. And make a lot of observations.

When a reporter says "it is expected that" etc. it means the reporter is saying something they observed.

Third stage: contruct your story. You must have a plan in your mind. If you choose a caption for your story, you should keep it to 8 words, 8 simple words.

Fourth stage: corrections stage. After writing you might need to drop it and take a breather, then re-read it. Do not assume you cannot make mistakes. Always want to re-read and make changes, correct grammar, spell names correctly.

Qualities of a story

What stories are news worthy?

Timeliness: event day before, day of or in near future, anniversaries of events

Proximity: relevance to people who will read it

Unusual nature of story: something out of the ordinary, for example a goat beats someone

Human interest story: for example, a poor person has cancer, or drunken police man shot down a man

An example: In community in Lagos, electricity off for 3 months. Sign (from the bible): "Let there be light" - key into what the people want to hear).

Conflict: For example, world news is in Northern Africa, not because they are building bridges, but because of the conflict

Impact: Look at people affected - when the conflict is no longer news, what is the condition of the people

Helpfullness: consumer goods in the market, fashion, guides on how to live your life, vegetarians, reduce weight

Celebrity stories: about famous

Entertainment: listings, etc.

News about trends: some people only watch the stock market news for example


Q. In an event that is dangerous: how can you capture such a thing?

We are powerful people as journalists and we are also victims. I have been beaten on duty 10 times and had my equipment destroyed. The situation in the west is different. If you just have a camera you will be suspect in many places in Africa.

If you are in a public place you flaunt that you are a journalist. For other stories, like covering a bribe, you should hide.

Discretion is important.

There are networks to support jounralists - and journalists without access to resources to support them. With IMC, we have a network of people and this convergence allows us to make connections so that if one of us is arrested, we all know each other personally and kept help.

Weigh benefits against risks: is it worth risking your life? Worth getting beaten? Update yourself with latest technology.

Q. What are the differences in mainstream and activist reporters?

The difference is the agenda, the agenda is the common people for the activists. We are also more daring. Mainstream media is saying things that are constant.

Q. When you report on something like World Social Forum, there are many stories that don't conform to the criteria reported?

If NYTimes are here, the would report a democrat focused story. Fox News would report republican story.

Q. What tips do you have for people doing investigative journalism?

There many - we will talk more later. No training will give you won't you don't have.

Q. Is presentation just for print?

No - basic principles of reporting on the same, no mater what media

Q. Observation: not all of us are media practioners. We would like the workshops going to media makers of all stripes, so that we can all be media makers.


Q. Please explain: Proximity and helpfulness

(See above}