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Chapter Summary

Ch. 4: Approaching the Story

Journalists need to know the story, know the audience and know the media they are using to be effective  To do that, journalists use simple research techniques to background story ideas and the sources for those stories. Journalists use every means available, not just the Internet, to find necessary information to help them understand the topics and the people at the focus of their reporting.

Story ideas can come from observing everyday life, reading the news and finding questions left unanswered, checking out the comings and goings of government agencies and tips from people in any and every walk of life. Most news stories are developed from primary sources although secondary sources can be helpful in providing background information.

Interviewing, observation and note-taking are primary tools of newsgathering. Observation aims at providing imagery of a situation or a person. Imagery can come in words, pictures or sound. Interviews can provide not only information for a story but insight into the reason for a story. Interview put people at the center of the storytelling.  Note-taking helps journalists listen in interviews and keep track of key points in gathering imagery.  Note-taking helps keep reporting organized and on target.

The final critical step in story reporting is thinking. Before a story can be produced in any medium, journalists need to stop and think about the universal theme or focus of their story.  Writing a focus statement or story mapping can help organize material to determine a story’s focus.