DigitalJournal.com is a media outlet that sets out to find originality, fresh perspectives and an understanding of the context of events around the world. We give priority to stories and writers who exemplify these ideals. We also report on matters covered by mainstream media, and we also encourage original perspectives and fresh material that helps fill in the gaps left by a shrinking pool of reporters attached to mainstream media.
In the digital age, it is even more important for online media to be clear and precise. Online readers have even less patience than readers of newspapers. They do not want to work through writing that is obscure, disjointed or inaccurate or content that requires mental mathematics, a dictionary or familiarity with regional idioms or technical jargon.
Since Digital Journal is an English-language site reaching a global audience, we face unique challenges in our style and presentation.
The spectrum of voices writing for Digital Journal includes the challenge of finding a common style journalists should adopt. Digital Journal understands that it’s difficult to demand that writers from various countries use a uniform writing style, but we believe there are some guidelines every writer should learn to practice sound journalism.
Below is Digitaljournal.com’s style guide covering grammar, spelling, English usage, libel, article structure, and more:
First, our writers must understand the subtleties of writing for a global readership. Thus, stories cannot talk about politics in “the nation,” unless it is perfectly clear which nation is being referenced. We do not say, for instance, that a certain society is “the largest in the nation,” but “the largest society in England [or Pakistan or Australia or whatever].”
Similarly, we cannot assume our readers know the details of global geography. Many Canadians, for instance, know Hamilton is a city in Ontario, but we cannot assume readers in Lebanon or Russia will continue reading a story about it until they have been told it’s a real place, where it is, etc. This might seem obvious in the case of Hamilton, but for the benefit of global readers we also have to locate places such as Port-Au-Prince, Bronx, Santos, Aix-en-Provence or Sarajevo. As a general rule, any city, no matter how well known we believe it to be, must also be identified by its state or nation (some capitals such as Washington, Moscow, London, Paris or Beijing are exceptions).
This is particularly necessary because there are often many places with the same name — every Canadian province has a city, town or village named Victoria, for instance, and some provinces have several. In the case of more obscure places, we should locate them more precisely for the reader (e.g, “150 km northeast of Paris”).
Identifying the city
“Datelines” are geographic locators at the beginning of a story indicating the city from which a story originates. So at the beginning of an article, you may see “Toronto” or “Detroit, MI” or “Krakow, Poland.” In some news environments this identifier helps readers know the reporter is in that city and filing a story. In our case, it indicates the city affected by the particular news item.
When you’re filing a story on Digital Journal, you’ll see a special box in the edit screen that asks you for a country and city (if applicable). If your news is relevant or particular to a specific city, make sure you provide this info.
Most of our readers will be able to identify notable people mentioned in our stories, but still everyone must be identified with title and full name on first reference. We will write “U.S. President Barack Obama” “or “British Prime Minister Gordon Brown” on first reference, and “Obama” and “Brown” on the second. No need to write Mr. or Mrs. as honorifics preceding surnames.
Though our news is published in English, usage can vary dramatically from country to country. For instance, writers in Canada, Great Britain or New Zealand will use the –our ending (labour, favour), or the –re ending (theatre, centre), while American writers will use labor and theater. Similarly, we can differentiate programme/program and archaeology/archeology.
We will thus accept both European and non-European spellings of US and U.S.
The most grating idiosyncrasy is over the use of a compound noun and its verb. Without getting into a grammar lesson, here is an example: British English will headline a story “England ban use of cellphones while driving.” The word “ban” will likely annoy Canadian or American ears who would prefer to hear it “England bans use of cellphones while driving.”
DigitalJournal.com will accept both styles, according to context, while making sure the styles remain consistent within each story. We will also accept regionalisms such as queue for lineup, but writers should realize words like "yob" may be unfamiliar to North American audiences.
• Always insert a single space after a period, comma or other punctuation mark. No double spaces.
• Use a long em dash ( — ) with a space before and after to indicate pauses, not just a bunch of hyphens. MS Word allows you to make a shortcut on your keyboard, the default being Ctrl + Alt + - (on the numeric keypad). You can use two dashes in the DigitalJournal.com draft system. If you’re still having trouble figuring this out, copy the em dash above and paste it in your article.
• Single and double quotes differ in British and American usage. Here, we will impose a rule for the sake of consistency: A ‘single-quote’ quotation is used in headlines. Single quotes are also used for quotes within quotes (i.e. “John Doe seemed frustrated when he said, ‘I give up,’ but I understand where he’s coming from,” Steve said. ) “Double quotes” are used inside the body of articles and blogs.
• Again, for the sake of consistency, we prefer the American usage of placing commas and periods within the quotation marks (British styles put punctuation marks outside quotation marks). For instance, we will write: She said she “wanted to make peace with her family,” adding how difficult it has been to reunite with her father.
• Commas often separate subjects, such as “The military spokesperson, Gerald Green, said…” But it’s preferable to shorten the sentence to, “Military spokesperson Gerald Green…” which makes the sentence read more quickly.
• Don't overuse commas. They don't need to be used often, especially if you're a writer opting for shorter sentences
• Don’t add periods, exclamation marks or slashes in headlines. Use questions marks sparingly.
• Lists are done in this way: cats, dogs and horses. You may use a comma before the final “and” or “or” if it introduces a new clause. “Cats, dogs, and he also mentioned civets.” Of course, we allow exceptions for the sake of cadence.
• Remember to use hyphens for compound modifiers, such as “one-year salary” or “hard-fought battle.” Without the hyphens, the phrase may not make sense.
• Book titles, theatre shows and music albums should be in italics, but ideally should link to their respective Web pages. Songs should be in quotes. Movie titles should (ideally) be linked to their IMDB.com pages or dedicated websites.
• Semicolons are acceptable, but make sure the two related sentences pertain to the same topic. If not, use a period instead.
• Companies are singular entitles, not plural. A company “has” done something, not “have” done something. For example:
Wrong: American Airlines, together with other airlines, have lost money this quarter.
Right: American Airlines, together with other airlines, has lost money this quarter.
• A company is an “it” not a “they.” For example:
Wrong: Nike has decided to raise their international profile.
Right: Nike has decided to raise its international profile.
• Try to avoid using the word “that.” For example, “Obama said that Biden was very helpful.” The word “that” is not needed. Instead, simply say “Obama said Biden was very helpful.” In almost every case “that” is a useless word.
• The trickiest grammar rule for writers is often the “which/that” conundrum. The basic rules are actually simple: use “that” when the clause is essential in explaining or defining the noun, such as “The car that Bateman drove to the film was a red Ferrari.” And use “which” for clauses introducing a new element in the sentence, such as “The car, which Bateman often lends to his son, is a red Ferrari.”
• Use the active voice instead of the passive, whenever possible. It makes writing sound more confident and it’s known to be a generally acceptable rule in writing.
Passive: The CEO of the graphic design firm was fired by the company’s board of directors.
Active: The company's board of directors fired the CEO yesterday.
• Technological terms can be tricky for some writers but here is DJ policy: We say cellphones and smartphones, real-time chatting (but in real time), website (but Web browser), email, Internet. We also prefer to use pre-roll ads, high-tech, cameraphone and peer-to-peer file-sharing.
• We also use: MP3, 80GB hard drive, 333 MHz, 32-bit processor, U.S. government, 9/11, 3-D, 176 x 144-pixel display, CD-R, 4.4x zoom.
• It’s percent, and percentage. Never %, unless in the headline or in cutlines.
• Unless it’s an extremely common acronym, introduce the full term at first and put the acronym in brackets, e.g., Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), National Rifle Association (NRA).
• Capitalize the spelling for all names and businesses, including YouTube, Google Maps, General Motors, Barack Obama, LeBron James, etc. But write iPhone because that’s a trademarked spelling.
• Capitalize trade names such as Band-Aid, Spandex, Kleenex, Jeep or use generic terms, such as “tissue” instead of “Kleenex.”
• Don’t capitalize proper nouns such as jazz, fair trade, basketball, government, province, state, tsunami, producer, murder, etc.
• Remember to always use our Spell Check button after you completed your draft.
• Write out “one” through “nine.” Write out 10 and above. You may say “one-tenth” if it works for you. Thousands are written as 1,000.
• Dates are written: Jan. 16, 2006, but you should say “in late January.” Don’t write January 16th – there is no value in adding the “th.”
• Note: It’s eighties, 1980s (but not ‘80s).
• For money, write $50,000, not fifty thousand dollars. Don’t include decimal places if the value is 0 (as in $50,000.00)
• Time is written this way: 2 p.m. Don’t spell it 2pm, or two p.m. Write midnight and noon, not 12 p.m. or 12 a.m. You can add time zones such as 2 p.m. ET or 5 p.m. GMT
• Use italics sparingly. Avoid ALL CAPS, double exclamation marks!!, random bold or underline text or other forms of overzealous punctuation.
• Contractions are fine only if they sound natural, but don’t overdo it.
• Avoid hollow corporate-speak and technical jargon, unless it is somehow integral to your piece. Strive for clarity. And avoid clichés like the plague.
• Sometimes you are writing to promote or bring awareness to a product, service or company (Google, for example). This is a necessary part of the business. You can be critical, as long as you’re fair. At the same time, try not to sound too breathless, forceful or overly enthusiastic. Write conversationally and casually.
• To avoid formatting problems, write your article in the Digitaljournal.com draft body. Don’t copy and paste your text from a word processor to Digital Journal.
Sometimes, we come across words and phrases that are bloated, unclear, overdone – word you don’t need in your text. Below are some bloated words we suggest Digital Journalists never use:
• Currently [“now” is preferred]
• At an early date [“soon”]
• Facilitate [“make possible”]
• Non-productive expenditures [“waste”]
• Parameters [“characteristics”]
• Societal [“social”]
• Comedic [“comic”]
• Utilized [“used”]
• With regard to [“about”]
• Prior to [“before”]
• All over the country [“across the country”]
• Close scrutiny [redundant]
• Jewish rabbi [redundant]
• Past history [redundant]
• 8 p.m. in the evening [redundant]
• Gathered together [redundant]
• Whilst, amidst, unbeknownst etc. [needlessly quaint; use “while” and “amid” and “unknown”]
• Epicentre/epicenter [do not use in all cases except for atomic blasts and earthquakes; it means the spot on the surface of the earth directly above the underground source of an earthquake or directly below the spot where an airborne atomic blast has been detonated. It does not mean “more central than centre.”]
• In terms of
• It may be observed that
• It should be said
First, it must be understood that being based in Canada, DigitalJournal.com is governed by Canadian law, which has some peculiarities.
Every journalist should be aware of libel, defined as the written or broadcast version of a defamatory statement (slander is the conversational form of defamation). You defame someone when you write something that lowers the person’s stature in the eyes of the community, causing damage to reputation, the ability to find another job, or raise doubts about a person’s integrity or patriotism.
To be libel-conscious, journalists need to dig beyond the press release to make sure you get all your facts right and be able to support them. Don’t simply publish defamatory statements (a certain person “is a moron”) even if someone else said them; repeating a libel is still a libel, and can get you sued for it. Often, the person who uttered the defamatory remark will not be sued, but the publication that repeated it will.
You need to back up all your facts with evidence. Let’s say you write about a city councilor being drunk at a parade and making crude remarks about the mayor. If you publish the story, the councilor may claim the statement is defamatory and then go on to sue you, perhaps also arguing he never said it. But if you can prove the story was true (recording his quotes helps enormously, or having a witness), then the councilor will have a difficult time winning the suit.
The basic rule is simple: You can criticize a person’s statements or actions, not the person himself or herself. A statement can be idiotic, but it does not necessarily follow in law that the person who said it is also an idiot; an action can be stupid, but the person who did it is not stupid. It also does not follow that all you have to do is prove a deed was idiotic as a defence to calling a person an idiot.
Generally speaking, many people appear to get away with saying horrible things online because it costs a lot of money to sue someone. This is why so few bloggers get sued: damages won from a blogger will rarely cover the legal costs to win them.
However, if you do get hit with a lawsuit it means you’re in for a world of pain, especially if the person launching the suit decides to destroy you financially and has pockets deep enough to do it. In some cases, you may find yourself paying your lawyers until you declare personal bankruptcy.
Also remember that in Canada, under whose laws DigitalJournal.com operates, the burden of proof is on the person being sued. All the plaintiff has to do is sit back and say, “Prove it,” and if you can’t, or don’t have convincing documentation, you will lose.
For example, let's say you wrote a story saying Person X buggered a fellow inmate in jail. Person X could sue you in Canada and under Canadian law he doesn’t have to lift a finger in court. All Person X would have to do is say, give me the proof that I did what you say I did (not prove you, the writer, to be innocent). The burden of proof is on the person being sued for libel; you will have to offer convincing proof in court that Person X did what you said he did.
It’s also not a good enough defence for a journalist to genuinely believe the statements to be true. In fact, truth is not always a good defence under Canadian libel law; if the court finds you told the truth but your intent was malicious, you could still lose.
The law is so weighted in favour of those who launch the suits that Canada has become a destination for people who want to launch libel suits against statements made online, even if the statements were published by a foreign national in another country. The fact that the challenged statements are “published” in Canada is enough to allow a suit to move forward in a Canadian court.
As a result, wealthy plaintiffs often use Canadian libel law to create “libel chill,” which makes journalists afraid to criticize powerful people who might bankrupt them with a costly suit.
Another caution must be entered here, one that is not peculiar to Canada but is generally accepted in most jurisdictions: Certain words turn a legal action into a criminal one, and they should be used carefully. For instance, it is legal to avoid paying taxes (say, by using tax loopholes), but it is criminal to evade paying taxes. Writing that a tycoon is rich because he evaded paying taxes will earn you an instant lawsuit.
Similarly, a person might have killed someone or slain someone, but it is not murder until a court says it is so; it can be called a “charge of murder” if police have officially charged a person with that crime. A homicide is not always an illegal act; it is merely a declaration by a coroner that states someone caused the death of another person. Under law, there are legal defences for homicide, such as self-defence. Homicide is not a synonym for murder.
Under Canadian law, a person is not guilty of anything until a court has said so, and everyone, journalists included, must refrain from making prejudicial comments on a case that is currently before the courts (called sub judice in legalese). Canadians passed this law many years ago partially in reaction to the atmosphere surrounding sensational trials in the United States, where juries must sometimes be sequestered to protect them from being swayed by people’s often impetuous opinions. Americans might find Canada’s strictures to be an infringement of civil rights, but that is only in the context of the U.S. Bill of Rights; Canada does not define that abridgment as a violation of the rights of free speech.
Section 9.1: How to report a crime story
Crime stories are an important part of the journalistic tapestry. Being a crime reporter is a difficult job, since you are constantly barraged with tragedies, horrific details and the pain of victims. On a technical side, covering crime is filled with legal dangers and confusing statistics.
Here are some tips on writing solid crime stories for DigitalJournal.com:
• Find crime events that the mainstream media may have missed. Local stories can have national implications if they relate to a larger trend (drug smugglers caught shipping pot from Mexico to U.S. could relate to the DEA's mandate of stemming drug imports, e.g.).
• Don't implicate an individual in a crime if he or she has simply been charged or arrested. You can write your story without naming the person ("A 26-year-old Toronto man has been charged with three counts of owning child pornography") and at the very end you may add a name ("Joe Blow will appear in Toronto courts tomorrow"). You can't say things like "John Smith beat and stabbed the woman..." when those facts haven't been proven in a court of law. Instead, you should say "Police say the man beat and stabbed the woman..." This may save your skin if a lawyer ever suggests certain media companies have linked a person with a crime he or she may have not committed. Accusing someone who hasn't been found guilty in a court of law can be considered defamation, libel and slander.
• Be fair. Try to cover both sides of the story, from the police angle to the perspective of the accused, if possible. Also, are you covering crime in low-income neighbourhood only or are you reporting on events in all communities?
• Avoid obtuse language. Don't write "inner city" when you can name the street instead. Be wary of judging someone, as in calling someone "crazy" if you can use words such as "suffering from mental health problems." Make sure you have evidence of such facts.
• Crime stats can be frustrating to decipher, so find out the source first to see if there is any conflict of interest. Don't draw parallels if there aren't any. What you can do is look for trends and see if any expert or detective backs up a theory you may have. Do some digging when possible.
• Avoid adding irrelevant and possibly litigious photos. For a photo about a double-murder, don't search on Flickr for any crime scene. Never use a generic shot of a person to illustrate a story on a specific crime because the person in the photo (who is not involved in the crime) can claim you defamed them. If there aren't applicable photos to use, go photo-less. However, let's say you write a crime event about a drug bust. You can use generic photos of applicable drugs, like marijuana or cocaine, without including any human faces in the shot.
• Make sure the writing in your crime story is still lively, entertaining and original. No one said that crime stories have to be bland (contrary to popular belief). Use intriguing phrasings and vary the story with short and long sentences. Stick to the facts but give the story your own flavour.
Some final words of inspiration: A crime reporter wrote an essay in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer about the value crime reporters offer. Melissa Manware defended the crime beat, saying:
Maybe this story will convince someone to reach out to a friend or co-worker in need. Maybe this will move a woman to leave a violent relationship, a drug addict to seek help, or a rape victim to come forward. Maybe it will lead someone to come forward with information about who committed this horrible crime.
Stories change lives, they give voices to the voiceless and, most importantly, they remind all of us of our humanity.
For more tips on crime reporting, see a liveblog conversation from our editors on this subject here.
There are a number of news sites and creative writing forums that offer places to publish articles on “Why my job sucks,” or “The history of running shoes” but that place is not DigitalJournal.com. Digital Journalists should stick to news, and make each report about an issue you believe is important.
Section 10.1: Structuring Your Article
First, write articles by answering the Five W’s: Who did what? Why did it happen? What occurred? When did it happen? Where? (And sometimes answer “How” something happened or “How” it is going to impact others).
News articles must focus on current affairs reporting. Digital Journalists have a responsibility to focus on the news first, reporting on the facts backed up by embedded links or sources. Also, any article with commentary or analysis must be supported by sourced evidence and should be marked as an Opinion post.
Your headline should sum up the most important and timely information right away. A good headline answers some of the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why (i.e. “Man killed in fire in New York City blaze,” or “Canada announces pull-out from Afghanistan”). Don’t try to be too cute in headlines (i.e. “The fiery end of a man’s life in New York,” or “The future for Canadians in Afghanistan”). Tell it like it is, right away. No fluff. That tactic might work in magazine writing, where puns are inexplicably prized, but with a hard-news site like DigitalJournal.com, readers want to know the story’s subject right away through headlines. More info on writing headlines can be found here.
The intro – or “deck” – should further elaborate on the headline and clearly explain the essential elements of the story. It should position the geographical setting, including the major people involved and when the event occurred. Avoid adding lengthy quotes or background details in the deck.
In the body of the article, write about the main nugget of information first, the timely news forming the heart of your post. Expand on what your deck told us, and feel free to add stats and quotes. Link to your source(s), if applicable. Write short paragraphs instead of a few massive paragraphs. Make sure every paragraph flows to the next seamlessly. Add background info further down the piece. If possible, embed a few photos within longer articles. Feel free to add subheads to break up the text.
Section 10.2: Back up those facts
Make sure every fact is backed up by a source, even if it’s through an individual you interviewed. If you’re interviewing someone on a contentious issue, you may want to take what they told you and ask another expert to verify the “facts” you’re being given are indeed facts.
When it comes to writing, don’t assume people are familiar with all the information you know about a certain topic. Also, don’t assume they’re familiar with all the neighbourhoods you know. The more resources you use, the better your article will read. Also, thorough journalism will provide good follow-up information for readers as well.
Even if you write a fact such as “This fight-or-flight response is exactly what happens in a classic panic attack,” we recommend you link to a URL about this discovery. It doesn’t hurt to offer readers more avenues to conduct their own research. After all, there will be many people who don’t know what a fight-or-flight response is.
Section 10.3: Articles Unfit for DJ
So what kind of articles are we trying to stay away from? Posts of creative writing, recipes, diary-like entries on the day in the life of a Digital Journalist, watery stories on the origin of the flute, for example — these types of articles shouldn’t be published on a news site.
Note that these articles can still be posted in our blog section, just not on our front-page news section.
You may want to write about something important to you, such as a political cause or a charitable organization. But refrain from profiling a group or person who isn’t doing anything new or noteworthy; otherwise, readers will wonder, “Why should I care about this now?”
We accept articles only in English, and we encourage Digital Journalists to only hyperlink to outside websites written in English. In the case where a source is in another language, try to use a service like Google Translate to offer our English-speaking readership a place to read a translation.
Section 10.4: Image and photo guidelines
The best photo to complement your article is directly relevant to the story. So a post on Kobe Bryant should obviously include a recent pic of the basketball player. A photo about a vaguer topic, like organic food prices, should use a photo of organic produce or an organic food store. Don’t post photos of people or places that aren’t mentioned in your article, and don’t steal photos from websites. Make sure you have the rights to use a photo.
Uploading your own images:
You can upload images you took by clicking on the Contribute button on the top of the page and then clicking on the images link. You will be prompted to fill in details related to the image such keywords, a description and what license you want to use. A tutorial on how to upload images can be found here.
We encourage writers to shoot their own photos to accompany editorial. If you have any difficulties uploading your photos to DigitalJournal.com, please contact us. If you don’t have a photo to use, you can click “Add image” on an article or blog and search our database for one.
Uploading someone else's images:
It's one of the most common questions asked by Digital Journalists: "What photos can I freely use from the Web to complement my article?" It's a popular question because many people believe they can nab photos from any website, without any consequence.
Photos on many news sites comes with an attribution and a copyright license. Photos from Reuters and AP and AFP can't just be taken from one site and posted on another; that would be a blatant copyright violation, and it's something we don't allow on DigitalJournal.com
Here's how to find legal images you can use:
First, government websites are excellent resources. On a site like WhiteHouse.gov, all photos are public domain and can be used by anyone (as long as attribution is given). Recently, the Blog section of the White House website has been filled with photos of President Obama and Vice President Biden, all uploaded the day of the shoot. For political writers, this is a site worth bookmarking.
The same rule applies to other governmental websites in various countries, from Canada to South Korea to Israel. Just make certain you are indeed on a government website, and not an advocacy group's homepage.
Second, we highly recommend using Flickr's advanced search options. It's quite easy to find a photo that has a Creative Commons license -- a license allowing you to use their work freely alongside editorial.
Simply go to the Advanced Search option in Flickr. Input the search terms for the story (e.g. Brazil, the economy, marijuana) and then scroll to the bottom. Click the box marked "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content."
by Digital Journal
This is the box to tick when looking for Flickr photos having the Creative Commons license
Then click SEARCH and choose a photo you like. If you click on the link titled "All sizes" above the image you'll see larger images you can right-click and save to your computer.
Once you've downloaded the photo size you like, click back to the image's main detail page. Once there, make sure you take note of the photographer's name (top-right corner) and the Creative Commons licenses (bottom right under the header "Additional inforomation"). There are various types of licenses and Digital Journalist must mark the correct licenses when they fill in image details on DigitalJournal.com.
Speaking of Flickr, the White House has a great Flickr account that offers journalists copyright-free content here.
If you have trouble finding the license for a photo on Flickr, these steps should help you out:
Copyright image, cannot use:
Identifying copyrights on Flickr photos
This image has a copyright (c) and "All rights reserved" which means you cannot use it.
Instead, you need to check the box for "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content" in the advanced search (as mentioned above). Once you get results, look for this:
Identifying copyrights on Flickr photos
This photo shows "Some rights reserved" and a few logos. If you hover over the logos, you can see it says "Attribution - Non Commercial - Sharealike" which is OK to use on our site.
If you want to see bigger icons to be sure, click on "All sizes" above the photo:
Identifying copyrights on Flickr photos
Then scroll down to below the photo and you have large icons that show the Creative Commons license when you hover over them:
Identifying copyrights on Flickr photos
These icons will become more familiar to you as you use them more often.
Finally, in addition to Flickr, a website has popped up to offer anyone access to their vast database of photos. Check out MorgueFile.com, and key in search terms in the Free Images search bar. If you are doing a story on Web surfing, inputting the word "Internet" will give you 83 pics from which to choose. Just download the pic by clicking the Download button at the bottom, and when you upload the photo to DigitalJournal.com make sure to give credit to the photographer and the website (e.g. in the Attribution field -- Photo by mzacha/MorguleFile.com).
MorgueFile doesn't have breaking news photos but more general photos. It's no AP, but we appreciate the wide variety of pics from which to choose.
Also, don't be shy about being aggressive. If you are interviewing individuals, snap photos of them as often as possible. Alternately, for phone interviews, request photos to be sent to you via email, as .jpegs (that's the only format we accept). Many PR companies have a library of photos they can send journalists and will share them if asked. You can also ask individuals whom you interview for their photo, and explain to them it's always important to show people behind the stories. Ask who took the photo and who should receive credit. For example, "Photo courtesy -Person's Name-"
Be sure to get company photos from the actual company, as opposed to stealing images off their website. It also never hurts to phone police departments for crime-related photos, if that's your beat.
To learn more about embedding images within articles, click here. A tutorial on how to upload images can be found here.
Section 10.5: Interviews
Primary sources are people you speak to directly for an article, people you quote in context. Make sure you take careful notes when speaking to individuals for an article, and keep those notes in your files in case your writing is challenged. Every good journalist uses quotes in context, and recognizes the importance of using indirect quoting if the statement is boring or not worth quoting directly.
For example, if your city mayor told you: “I don’t think I want to attend the Olympics because, you know, I may have family things to do. My friend is also coming in from out of town and I may want to catch up on some reading.” The quote is long and boring. Paraphrasing would be more appropriate, where you can simply say: The mayor said he won’t attend the Olympics.
Be careful, though, about the common pitfalls of interviewing primary sources for an article: the interviewee could have a hidden agenda for talking to you; you should identify the interviewee’s position and/or title clearly, and include his/her age if possible; and if you’re not clear about something said, re-interview the subject to avoid publishing anything libelous or incorrect.
If you are writing on a controversial subject, you might also want to record your conversation so you have proof of your source’s statements, and it also helps to transcribe information when you are writing your article. You must tell the interviewee that the conversation is being recorded.
Section 10.6: Categories
On DigitalJournal.com, we let you select a category for your article. Are you writing about the U.S. Congress passing a bill? That article would fit into Politics. Or penning a piece on a new diabetes study? That would go under Health. It’s quite easy to figure out the category that best fits your article. Just ask yourself in what section your article would be published in a newspaper.
Section 10.7: Localize Your News
DigitalJournal.com gives you the ability to identify the location of your report. In the EDIT mode, you can select the city where the action is taking place and also the country (found at the bottom of the body). Why should you do this? It adds a geo-stamp or dateline to the front of your article (Paris, France - ) and also allows readers to better find news about their community.
Section 10.8: Using multiple sources when publishing "In the Media" articles
This blog is an update to communicate to our Digital Journalists what we look for in articles and how they should attribute and cite third-party sources. As part of our ongoing discussion with readers and contributors, we've heard a lot of feedback about using outside sources and so we're publishing this overview of what we'd like to see from Digital Journalists:
On Digital Journal, we have a section called "In the Media" designed to showcase a story, or offer a summary of what's happening in media around the world. This section is for articles where a writer is quoting from another source.
Many media organizations have a media section, a daily digest or wrap-up of what's happening around the world as reported by other sources and we've believe it's important to shed light on stories from other sources so you never miss what's happening around you. We don't live in a news cocoon, so our "In the Media" section allows you to find out what's happening everywhere.
We look for comprehensive summaries when you're reporting something In the Media, and so we look for more than one source when covering a news story. As all journalists and journalism schools will preach: Including multiple sources leads to better journalism, and so we would like all Digital Journalists to follow this golden rule. When you write, you should use at least three to five sources for every article, whether they are interviewees or links to background info or sites with timely news.
We have one exception to this rule, and that is when you report something from police or government officials and it's not possible to find another source (scroll down for more info on quoting a press release or statement from a government official or police).
You should also link to previous DigitalJournal.com coverage of the topic, if applicable.
If you read a news report and you think it's worth publishing a summary for In the Media, we'll be looking for your analysis, a summary of the facts, as well as links to multiple sources for more information. You may have found a story on a particular news website, but we'll be looking for you to summarize, add depth, background and colour, and go out and find multiple sources.
"In the Media" reports are meant to highlight important stories in the media around the world, but we really look for your own style and your own voice in these articles. We're not interested in a quick rewrite following the same structure as the source. Once you've cited your source in the story, find more sources and link to them. You can link to outside news sites or other Digital Journal articles. Many stories can include relevant info, background info or stats. The more information you provide, the stronger the article.
We want to give readers better perspective on all ongoing stories, and including multiple sources is the best way to ensure your "In the Media" review is truly comprehensive.
Quoting exclusive articles:
Quite often, a media organization will land an exclusive story that you may want to report for Digital Journal's "In the Media" section. So what do you do when you want to quote multiple sources? The simple answer: Find background or related info or history and add them to your report.
For example, let's say you want to cite a New York Times investigation into radiation equipment used by dentists. No one else is writing about this specific issue, but you can find background links, such as sites that might have reported on radiation equipment in the past or links to dental associations that may be preaching equipment safety. You can find out what other dental news has made headlines recently and add them to your article. You can also look at med school research and press releases from industry participants.
Example: You can find a related story about a study that says patients increase their risk of getting cancer by not using thyroid collars at the dentist; a new code of practice for dentists in Ireland; or how tourists are flocking to the Philippines for oral care. What started out as a New York Times investigation about radiation equipment used by dentists becomes a much more comprehensive article that offers depth and knowledge for readers that will make your "In the Media" review stand out.
Also, adding more sources will help you verify information found via one source.
As always, we want Digital Journalists to use their own voice in reporting "In the Media" stories, no matter how many sources are linked and cited. Let us hear more of you. While it's great to link to quotes and stats, the article should be your own. Change flow and pacing and take the subject matter in new directions to add value for readers. Being a Digital Journalist means having the freedom to curate how an article is presented to readers.
Quoting statements from police forces or government officials:
When reporting on a statement or press release from police or a government official, you are permitted to use a single source. We encourage you to add background information and supporting material when it's relevant to the story, but we recognize there may be some instances where it's not possible to get multiple sources. If the press release, court document or statement is online, you should link to it.
We ask all Digital Journalists to cite three to five sources (or more) when summarizing stories they find in the media. This rule will make you a true representative of today's social media environment and link economy, and it will open your mind to other information that can help strengthen your original idea. You'll become a better expert on the issues that matter to you.
Section 10.9: Be a Citizen Editor
As a regular member or Digital Journalist on this site, you can also edit other people’s articles — in fact, you should if you find any errors or something that can be cleaned up. We give members that power because we believe crowd-sourced editing is a valuable tool to find mistakes and improve Digitaljournal.com.
When you come across an article with some errors, click the EDIT button found at the top right of the article, and then click on the “Make a revision” tab on top. You’ll see fields for the headline, intro and body of the article. You can write any changes you think are necessary and click “Submit revision.”
The article’s author will receive an email saying there are suggested revisions and then the author can decide whether to accept the edits. More info on this feature can be found here.
For more detailed lessons on how to use DigitalJournal.com, check out the posts found in the Group Tips n’ Tricks.