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Voice of San Diego: New Reporter Guidelines

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This guide is so witty that you almost forget how insightful it is.

Here are my highlights:

(for complete guide visit NYU Professor Jay Rosen’s blog post)

We only do something if we can do it better than anyone or if no one else is doing it.

* We must add value. We must be unique.

Three things to remember for each story:

* Context
* Authority
* Not just what is happening, but what it means

There is no such thing as objectivity.

* There is such thing as fairness.

* We are guided by an ability to be transparent and independent, to clearly assess what’s going on in our community and have the courage to plainly state the truth.

Be the expert.

* Write with authority. You earn the right to write with authority by reporting and working hard.

* The day we write a headline that says: “Proposal has pros, cons” is the day we start dying.

* We’re not someone’s goddamn transcription service.

Tell the truth.

… * Don’t go quote-hunting for something you know to be true and can say yourself. Don’t hide your opinion in the last quote of a story.

If you can’t find a good answer any of these three questions, drop the story:

* Why did I choose this story?
* Why will people care? (Not why should they care, but why will they care.)
* Why will people remember this story?

Avoid ‘churnalism’

* It’s not your job to have everything on your beat. It’s your job to have the best things.
* Don’t worry about getting scooped. Worry about not consistently making an impact.
* Love the title of this Columbia Journalism Review story: “The Hamster Wheel: Why running as fast as we can is getting us nowhere.”
* A quote: “The Hamster Wheel isn’t speed; it’s motion for motion’s sake. The Hamster Wheel is volume without thought. It is news panic, a lack of discipline, an inability to say no.”

Don’t be boring. People don’t spend their free time on boring things.

Have fun! Be creative! Push the envelope!

* You don’t do this for the money. So let’s have some fun.

Want to read the full text:

Voice of San Diego: New Reporter Guidelines.