In the second week of my journalism unit we were well and truly thrown into the deep end. After just a week of journalism theory we were to become Bournemouth University’s official reporters as we investigated how students really feel about semesterisation. It’s true what they say though, the best way to learn anything is to just have a go… so that’s exactly what we did.
Here is my beginners guide to reporting:
- Firstly, be prepared. Research the facts first, know the subject inside out and read any related articles first. Having a solid understanding and knowledge of Bournemouth University’s semesterisation programme was key.
- Make sure you know what you want to ask interviewees and choose people who will add credibility to your story. I prepared a selection of questions to ask students and lecturers at the university. However, these were only used as guidelines as it was important to respond to the answers given and to find out more about particularly interesting points. You don’t want to miss a crucial angle by skipping to the next question.
- Finding contacts can be difficult. Students were not too difficult to find as I was already at University so I decided to chat to students in the SU bar. Speaking to lecturers was a little bit harder as they work to a busy schedule. To overcome this I researched specific lecturer’s office hours and dropped by to see if they were available to chat. Speaking to those involved with the student union was also useful and they were particularly keen to share their views.
- When reporting make use of all the mediums around you for reaching potential sources- Twitter and Facebook can be great for this.
- Once you’ve found a wide range of sources, getting each of them to speak to you can be even harder. Always be polite and introduce yourself, the subject you would like to discuss and explain why you are interested in their views.
- Remember to take all key details that may be needed in the story. For this example, I took the interviewee’s name, age, degree and year. Also, if you are unsure of a spelling then ask. It is always best to double check all details are correct at this stage than to get it wrong in the report. If a source asks to remain anonymous then you must respect their wishes.
- If possible take a contact detail so that if you have any queries when writing the story you can get back in touch.
- Remain organised. A good reporter should have spoken to many sources before they begin writing so it is important to keep all your notes in order. I also find it is useful to keep track of all the people I have contacted and ticked off those who have responded. It does not look professional to pester those who have already declared they are unwilling or unable to comment on a topic.
- Once you feel you have enough information full of credible sources and a clear, newsworthy angle you are ready to write.
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