Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Burying the lead -Media Tip 102

I'm shattered 96 hours of full on with little sleep, but it was worth it.

Firstly our Masters students put together a blinder of a show today; 6 sessions of online culminated in a 5 hour news cycle towards their online newspaper.

There were many highs; one student pursued at least 6 different potential interviewees before getting her quote. Persistent pays. 

Secondly, and following on from today's live newsroom, it was a dash across town to the University of East London for my annual review of my Phd.

I'm through to the next year, and now the fun starts...

But burying the lead - media tip 102?

There are some advantages if you can call it that for working online. A huge slice of it is processing. Take a cut here, rework that para from that site there, grab a quote somewhere else and you're done.

But when you're the primary news gatherer and you're still grappling with the idea of news worthiness, how do you spot the lead from the mass of copy?

The Cat Sat on the Mat
The Cat Sat on the Mat is one of the games, it's easy.

Cat, Mat and Sat have to be used in the first para of a make believe story. 

Then you go Jayson Blair, creatively constructing  a story of 350 words.

It's a pretty hilarious exercise, revealing some active imaginations. But when the laughter done ask your students where the lead is.

Most often its buried and thus the expression, the cat sat on the mat become an allegory for the lead being buried.

As journalists we get paid to execute some fundamentals:
  • Asking the right questions
  • Using words accurately
  • and spotting the news story
Of course there's more..., but these are some of the basics

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