I went on about the quality of journalism in a previous article of mine. Here I’ll show you how easy it is to actually do it yourself. I’m no journalist so this is not an exhaustive guide, but hopefully it should help you dig the facts out of stories in the MSM.
Through the power of the internet and open source and freely available services you too can double check the facts of an article, see how much work the journalist has put into the story and view the original source of the story too see if there was any bias in the article. And then you can do it yourself – but better.
The first part is probably the hardest, in terms of effort required not complexity. All you need to do is go to the companies, organisations, groups that are of interest to you and read their press releases. Put the websites of various news gathering organisations like Reuters into your bookmarks as well. Also read the blogs of anyone else who has an interest in the subject matter, positive or negative.
And if you’re really good you’ll get real life contacts as well who will get in contact with you off their own back to tell their side of the story.
You now have the stories to talk about.
The second part which raises you up above the rest of the churnalists is to ensure that you aren’t simply regurgitating press releases. That you are actually adding some original thought to your story. I mean, why should journalists get away with copying and pasting a press release when you aren’t allowed to do so at college. Churnalism.com shows you how others are getting in wrong so that you can get it right.
The hard part in reading press releases is to find out what they really mean. Many press releases are used to hide other information. For instance the real data might be hidden behind lots of gobbledy gook or in the depths of the report especially if the data is not a good story for the organisation.
Unless you get a scoop most of the time you will be covering the same story that dozens of other bloggers and journalists are already covering. However that shouldn’t stop you from saying the same stuff as someone else. Your readers might not be the same set of readers of the other person. Or they might be of the opposite view point from you. To be really good you should be able to talk about both sides of the story and let the reader make up their own mind. But many a time you will have a point of view and it easier to talk about that because you are familiar with it than the opposite.
To ensure that you are telling the story properly you need to make sure that your story is factually correct. Of course you can use wikipedia, but even there double check the facts as it’s been shown that even the top notch churnalists can use false and fake details. If the story is already out in the wild you can use fullfact.org to check if the raw data backs up the published story. Most of the time it doesn’t so you can write your story and debunk the main stream story.
I’m only a simple part time blogger, some of you are more full time. What tips and tricks do you use?