Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.

Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.

Some basic concepts:

  • What is Newsworthy? Recent events that are unusual, nearby, have widespread/significant impact, or involve celebrities are more newsworthy than events that are stale, distant, have limited/trivial impact, or happen to average people. (9 min audio.)
  • Objectivity: Traditional journalism reports fairly from all sides of an issue — even the side the reporter thinks is wrong.
  • The Inverted Pyramid: Start with whatever is most important, not with who spoke first at the meeting you were assigned to cover. A traditional news story does not build to a climax — it gives away the ending (who won the game, when Route 30 will reopen, what happened at the board meeting) in the very first sentence.
  • Details Drive the News: Emphasize newsworthy quotes from credible sources (decision-makers, witnesses, experts, stakeholders). Let quotes do the heavy lifting in your news stories. (See also “Journalists Prefer ‘Said“)
  • Conflict of Interest: If you or a close relative are in a club or on a team, then you can’t write a news story on it. (You might write an editorial, or a column, as long as you disclose your relationship to the subject.)