CMMW 2018: Storytelling and Reporting, Researching and Interviewing

Written by William Solomons

With reporting for newspapers, radio, or television, a journalist needs to be thorough and attentive to the world around them. Several of the tools at a journalist's disposal involve open records requests, 990s, the Student Press Law Center and the EDGAR database for publicly traded companies. These resources allow a journalist to follow finances and make sure all legal issues are covered before publishing. It is also important for a journalist to refine their interview skills.

First, they must build relationships with the individuals they are interviewing so that they can continue to use them as a source of information. A successful interviewer must also be polite but also not patronize or overly compliment a source to get what they want. The most important thing they can do though is to continuously record the interview until they have left the building or office so that anything else said is captured.

A journalist must also be willing to go into the communities that may not have representation in the newsroom in an effort to capture other cultures' stories and views. Having a diverse staff also helps with this, but it begins with every reporter. Everyone has to be willing to explore other communities and interact with them not only as reporter but also just as a human being. In doing so, one can gain the trust of other communities who will then in turn provide information for the journalist regarding what is going on in said community. This is where the aforementioned interview skills come in to play.

On top of all this, in order to write well and tell someone's story, a reporter must be willing to use a soft lead when necessary. Soft leads are important to slowly introduce the reader to what is going on in the story. It allows the writer to appeal to the emotional side of the reader and to draw them into the story. This is achieved by using descriptive, yet still objective, language so that the reader can feel like they were in the environment that one is describing.