Being a journalist or a reporter is much more difficult than the average person realizes it to be. You have to write on a specific deadline, be ready at any hour of the day if breaking news happens, interact with difficult people, and much more. Here’s a list of things to keep in my next to you are writing a story or interviewing someone.
- Come prepared and do your research
Make sure that before every story or interview you conduct to have some previous background knowledge going in. The more you know about a specific topic the easier it will be to write or talk to the person. You don’t have to be an expert in the field, but having a general idea of what is happening is critical.
- Be a professional
When you are reporting it is a must that you act in a professional and appropriate manner. You can act friendly with the person you are talking to, however to don’t questions or use words you would say when you are hanging with your friends. The more professional you are with an interview the more professional the other person will be in return.
- Fact check
When writing an article, it is critical that you get your information out in a timely manner. As important as speed is when writing articles, it is even more important that the facts you say are accurate. Double-check your work always.
- Admit your mistakes/ read some of your revisions
As a writer, it’s often times difficult to admit that you are wrong. However, in order to improve, it is critical that you look over the edits your editor makes. Although you may not agree with them hearing advice from other writers might spark an interest that you never thought you liked.
- Write for the people
Write in a style that people would actually want to read. There is nothing worse than reading a dull article because the writer uses the same words or phrases over and over again. After you are done writing it, read it aloud to see how it sounds.
- Make up information
This is the number one rule for journalism and reporting. You are obligated to report accurate information to those reading them. It is unethical to write false information and it is a one-way ticket to be without a job.
Don’t take your information from someone who did the work before you did. It is ok to reference other sources of information, however make sure you give citations and credit where it is called for.
- Miss your deadlines
There is nothing that makes an editor crazier than when writers are not getting their stories in on time. It delays the whole process of producing the paper. It’s the professional thing to do and if you consistently miss your deadline it will be hard to stay employed.
- Let your opinion control the story
There are times when writing an opinion column that it ok to give your own thoughts and opinions. However when you are writing a hard news story, you must say it how it is and write what actually happened.
- Invade Privacy
When reporting or writing, make sure the person you are talking to knows that you are going to use his or her quotes for a story. Always ask politely when interviewing something and never including anything that they disclaim as “off the record”.