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Using multiple sources when publishing 'In the Media' articles

By Chris Hogg
Posted Jan 11, 2011 in Internet
This post 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.
Use multiple sources
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 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.
Going forward, we're asking 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.
If you have an idea on what Digital Journal can do to improve the user experience, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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