We were brought back to the basics of journalism in Filak’s seventh and eighth chapters.
Chapter 7 goes over the importance of preparation for an interview and checking for errors in your writing. As with the last reading response, checking all your sources and facts and checking for errors plays into the honesty quality of writing and how important it is to double check before publishing as to not have your credibility questioned. Going further into chapter 7, Filak discusses how imperative it is to be a flexible journalist and improvise when unforeseen situations occur. Being able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances allows you to be ready for anything and keeps you from getting frazzled.
Chapter 8 was kind of a new one for me as I didn’t know what beat reporting was. I had an idea, but wasn’t entirely sure. Unlike regular reporting where you often move from place to place every time, beat reporting focuses on one thing, person or place for a lengthier period of time. I find beat reporting interesting because instead of moving from one story to another and just barely cracking the surface of that one person or place you are reporting on, in beat reporting, you are able to really learn about you topic and almost build a relation with your topic. It is important to build a strong connection with and know your topic so the story can be the best possible.
Chapter 7 eased some of my fears around the upcoming Disaster Drill on Wednesday. The section about reporting a disaster was insightful not only in how to deal with it, but who to talk to. I’ve heard the nurses will run you down and ignore you if you get in the way of them trying to do their job; it is their final after all.
Chapter 8 we had read part of before doing our profile story, and while that was a nice refresher, the bit about beat reporting was both interesting and a bit irrelevant for me. I’m an English major going to grad school for more English, and while it’s important to know who to talk to and keep up with in a field, I’m not going to be doing beat reporting. I’m in this class to learn another way to write, and while I realize there are majors in the class and it’s important to understand the real-world application for this field, the beat and sports reporting sections didn’t jump out at me like others have.
The Knight chapter came as a nice review of what we discussed in class before the break, although with a different context. I was reminded of why we don’t use anything but “said” for attributions, and learned the few cases where it’s okay. I realize I often mention being an English major and a writing tutor in these, but those use some of the same skills that this class needs: clear, honest communication. It was a good little refresher.
The Filak chapter, on the other hand. I am tired of being told the importance of critical thinking skills. I grew up in the gifted program, so critical thinking skills have been shoved into my skull since first grade. I am well aware of them, thank you very much. I can discern what is and isn’t helpful for a story, what to put in or take out that creates the best picture for the reader. I understand the importance and everyone’s education differs. There are things some people weren’t taught that you were, and it’s important to meet the needs of all students. But critical thinking is as easy as breathing for me, and it’s been put on a pedestal my whole life and I’m tired.
Overgeneralizing and assumption writing are dangerous in journalism. Generalizing everything can come off as rude and makes it seem like the writer doesn’t know much of what they’re talking about. Knight touches on how important it is for journalist to research what they’re writing about and to know facts about the story before going into the interview. Research is helpful as to not look uneducated when interviewing the subject or writing about the breaking story.
Filak’s second chapter is all about thinking critically and how beneficial it can be. It seems a bit weird for someone to teach you how to think, but critical thinking and understanding is necessary in journalism and in every day life. Thinking in a critical sense helps a person better understand material and enables them to pull on that critical thought to be able to apply it later.
Writing honest material is what I strive for as a writer and having true content is what look for in other’s. With anybody able to publish whatever content they want as biased as they want now, it can be hard to know what’s fact and what’s fiction. I know how tempting it can be to overexaggerate or over emphasize details to try and make the story sound more interesting, but Knight cautions in his seventh chapter that doing so can be damaging to the story and to your own credibility as a journalist. It can subject your work to only being seen as tall-tales for entertainment. I find there’s nothing wrong with having a style of writing, as long as what you’re saying is true and not blown out of proportion.
The fact about humans having a shorter attention span than goldfish is a bit sad, but as a person who gets distracted fairly easy and always has her head in the clouds, I know how important it is to start a story off strong and to keep it strong in order to keep the audience reading what you have written.
Knight and Filak both touch on the importance of knowing the audience you are writing for and how to keep your audience reading what you have written. I think it is very important to know how to capture an audience and how to start off with a good lede.
The words infotainment and demolisticals from Filak’s are new words for me and I’m still unsure as to what demolistical means, but I find them both interesting words and might be worth looking further in to.
Knowing how to decipher what is newsworthy and what is not is very important so you can avoid just spitting out facts.
With all the different ways to get your news nowadays, it can be hard to know what is fact and what is just fan fiction, and knowing where your sources are coming from – whether writing or reading – are important so you can be sure you are receiving the most accurate and truth-filled story possible.
I wish Knight talked more on photojournalism than just that one paragraph because it is something I’m very much interested in, but I understand this is a journalistic writing book and not a photjournalism book.
Overall, interesting chapters and can’t wait to see what’s next. I might learn some more new words
I can appreciate Knight’s approach to lede building. There are plenty of examples and points made to steer the reader in the right direction. Perhaps an infographic would have helped since so many are accustomed to the reverse pyramid method. Overall, chapter three was somewhat helpful and certainly dog-eared in my book for future reference.
Filak’s Basics of Writing chapter is formatted a bit easier for the visual reader. It is complete with color marking and short succinct lede examples that are easy to follow. I also appreciate the commentary from Janelle Cogan and her “digestible bites” explanation.
“Yours is the work that has shown viewers and your colleagues would can be done.”
(Silently judging your grammar)