All things media and comms related

#The Twitter Challenge

Recently, my Journalism lecturer challenged us to find a newsworthy story every day to share on Twitter in an attempt to teach us how to use social media effectively. The idea was that we would learn the benefits Twitter has to journalism as well as to stop us boring the world with what we’ve eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Each day I face the task of monitoring the various news websites for something that may educate and interest my followers. I must say it has been a really valuable experience and I would challenge everyone to have a go.

So, what have I learnt through the exercise?

1. Every morning I begin the day clued up on the latest news, both nationally and regionally. It’s a great way to keep up-to-date with global affairs. Any good media and comms student should be doing this anyway so why not tweet about it? Also, knowing exactly what is going on in the town/country/world is a great conversation starter, especially when you are trying to impress! 

2. It’s a great way to keep your followers interested in you, so long as you choose stories and articles that will interest them. Most of my followers are from the media industry so MediaGuardian, PR Week and many media related blogs have been extremely useful. Again, it’s a brilliant learning experience as even just by scrolling through the headlines you will gain an insight into the day’s news.

3. If you tweet something of particular interest, and before everyone else, you will find yourself being RT which in turn generates more followers. This is the ultimate aim of each tweet!

4. Why not choose a headline which you believe will create a discussion? Rather than just simply re-writing a headline alongside the URL why not add a brief opinion? Followers will start to see your personality through the articles you choose and your comments about them. This should save you the need for monotonous tweets about your day’s events and your inner-most feelings!

5. Use news stories to raise awareness and create support. If you feel particularly passionate about a cause or charity then post articles about them. If others RT them you can maximise the potential for help and donations, whether time or monetary. A prime example is the many users posting articles about the Japan earthquake followed by links to websites asking for donations.

I’m sure there are many other benefits… I’m still a beginner at this challenge.  I know it will take a while until I completely stop sharing tedious posts about my university workload but I will definitely continue to take my lecturer’s advice. I will keep you updated with my progress.

 In the mean-time I challenge you to give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Photo: google images


March 29, 2011 Posted by | Blogs, Journalism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Patch Reporting: How to find a newsworthy story

At first, the idea of finding a news story in a designated patch may seem daunting. Especially so if it’s an area you don’t often visit or have any contacts for. But, after completing a patch report myself, I can safely say to you don’t panic. All you need is an open, inquisitive mind and the enthusiasm needed to fully immerse yourself in the role of the reporter.

The first thing I thought to myself when allocated Bournemouth town centre as my patch was how on earth am I going to find a story? But, I will let you into a little secret…everything can be a potential source for a story. What you read, what you see, what you hear, everything. All you have to do is learn to dig a little deeper into leads by asking question after question. Then you will find a fresh and exciting angle to follow up.

As a starting point, why not watch and read the local news relevant to your patch. News often evolves so find a story and then consider what has been missed out and question why. Asking yourself whether certain points in a story that have been left out or unexplained could yield a fresh angle. Perhaps, you feel the story is biased, in which case, finding another perspective could be the next step forward.

In addition to reading local news, you may find a story by observing the national news to see if there is a local angle that applies. Residents are always interested in the local impact of a big story, for instance, during the national elections people were eager to know how particular national policies would affect their own town. A personal example of when this worked for me was during a work placement at Reading Chronicle. I was given the task to browse through the national papers to see if any news could apply to the town. After reading a story about thermometers selling out fast around the country due to the swine flu epidemic, I used my investigative skills to find if this was the case for chemists in Reading. It was- for all of them.

I only found this out through personally speaking to those who managed the chemists. It’s important to remember that people are ‘sources’ so cultivate them and take the effort to get to know them. The more authoritative people you can connect with, the more newsworthy stories you are likely to find. If you can get government officials, police officers, lawyers etc to speak to you then you will have a high chance of writing a credible story. So, get on the phone to as many of these people as possible and ask them what is happening or whether they have heard any particularly interesting news.

From speaking to people you may also find trend stories. Perhaps certain events have happened on numerous occasions to different people? Perhaps burglaries, attacks, missing pets? As a reporter you should start to list similar situations and ask the question ‘why is this frequently happening?’

But the best advice anyone can give you is to just get out there and give it a go. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times, speak to as many people as possible and, above all, think like a reporter. It might be that on your first attempt you don’t find anything but don’t give up. Eventually you will find the lead of all leads which will result in a credible, newsworthy story that everyone will be interested to read.

Picture: google images

February 28, 2011 Posted by | Blogs, Journalism | , , | Leave a comment