Recreational Firearms Community 
of Saskatchewan
Media Tips For Gun Groups

The objective of this website is to help you with the media.  Forwarned is Forearmed.

Journalists looking for a story usually follow set guidelines.  Below is content taken from a How-To-Be-A-Journalist section of theRadio - Television News Directors Association of Canada  website.
(The content does not appear to exist any longer.)  Use this information to assist you in preparing stories or in dealing with the media.  If you know how they go about looking for things, you might help them and get them on our side.

Also, below is a good website for Journalistic Pointers:

 MediaChannel.Org






...TIPS 'N' TRICKS...
(Previously taken from the Radio - Television News Directors Association of Canada  website)
 

THE GOOD WRITER'S DAZZLIN' DOZEN
 

1.     Write factually and accurately.
        The best technique and the finest form mean nothing if your copy's wrong.

2.     Write in the active voice. This technique will make your copy tighter, complete, easier to listen to,
        and more interesting.
        Do whatever you must to avoid the passive voice.

3.     Write In the present or present perfect tenses.
        They make your copy more immediate, and immediacy is more interesting.
        Avoid the word "today".

4.     Keep your writing simple- Choose positive forms over negative forms.
        Write one thought to a sentence.
        Don't search for synonyms, since repetition is not a sin.
        Don't search for complicated, "intellectual" language.
        Give the audience the best possible chance to understand the story.

5.     Be complete and clear. in your quest for brevity and conciseness, don't omit necessary information.

6.     Be creative.
        Stick to the rules, but develop your own style.
        Try to say the same old thing in a different new way.
        Make use of the Rule of Threes and other writing devices that make copy easier to listen to
        and more interesting.

7.     Write to be heard. Maintain a sense of rhythm in your writing.
        All life has rhythm, and rhythmic writing is easier to hear.
        Avoid potentially confusing homonyms.
        Always, always test your copy by reading it aloud.

8.     Avoid interruptives.
        Don't force the listeners to make difficult mental connections.
        Put modifiers next to what they modify.
        Don't split verb phrases.

9.     Avoid commas.
        A comma demands a hitch in reading and the resulting jerkiness frustrates the listener.
        Avoiding commas also will eliminate subordinate clauses.
        Such clauses kill the impact of copy, especially if they come at the top of a story or sentence.

10.   Avoid numbers.
        The listener has trouble remembering them.

11.   Avoid pronouns.
        If you must use a pronoun, make sure the pronoun agrees with its antecedent and appears close
        to the antecedent.

12.   Write to the pictures but not too closely to the pictures.
        Remember that more specific video requires more general writing, and vice versa.
        Utilize the Touch & Go method, wherein you write directly to the video at the beginning
        of a sequence and then allow the writing to become more general with background
        information and other facts as the video continues.
 
 

STRONG STORIES FROM SCRATCH
...Excerpted from the Poynter Institute/RTNDA National Satellite Program
    presented by Valerie Hyman, Director, The Poynter Institute's Program for Broadcast Journalists

SECRETS OF STRONG STORIES

1.         Have a clear focus  What's the story? What am I trying to say?
            Answer in one sentence, and you're 90% of the way toward writing a powerful news story.

2.         Let the people closest to the story tell it.
            People affected by the story should be the main voices in the story.
            Use officials, observers and experts for background.

3.         Recapture the experience for the audience  What was it like to be there?
            To see, hear, feel, touch, and smell what happened?
            Show your audience the details that "tell" the story.
 
 

HOW TO MAKE THE SECRETS WORK FOR YOU

1.         Get a good idea and start playing with it.  How can I tell this story in a new way?
            What voices, people, and ideas have been left out of previous coverage?
            How can I see this story from a perspective different from mine?
            What is the point of this story?

2.         Make a plan and make it happen.  What questions must I answer to tell this story?
            What will be the ingredients in this story's recipe?
            This thinking should happen in a discussion with the photographer and/or producer and
            any other sympathetic folks you can find.
 

A. - Interviews

1.    People who actually are touched by the story, who can tell the story from their own experience.
       FOCUS ON THESE!
2.    People who provide information, perspective, and/or analysis.
3.    Ask open-ended, non-judgmental questions often.
 

B. - Pictures and Sound

1.    Recapture the experience of the event by letting the audience hear and see what it was like to be there.
2.    Think in terms of visual and aural sequences--trains of thought--and stay with each sequence
       as long as possible.
 

C. - Research: documents, records, etc., especially for longer  pieces

1.    Write down the questions you think you need answered. This will help you know when you have enough.
2.    Keep a list of everything you've looked at.
3.    Accept the fact that you won't use all the research in the story itself.
       Much of it will be valuable just for perspective and to lead you to other information, questions,
       and points of view.
4.    Make a list at the end of each day of what you need to do tomorrow.
5.    File documents daily. Don't let them pile up.
6.    Update your phone list daily.
 

D. - Standups: use sparingly, and for a purpose!

1.    When you have no pictures to illustrate the point.
2.    To establish yourself in a distant, unusual place.
3.    When you're providing analysis, history or context.
4.    To make a transition between locations, ideas or people.
5.    To demonstrate an activity that is more clearly explained by showing rather than telling.
 

E. - Stop and THINK!

Never proceed to the next step without spending at least five minutes to take stock of where you are and decide where you want to go.

Map your structure on paper, just a word or two per line, in list form. In what order will I use my ingredients?
(soundbites, background info, narration, natural sound bridges, pictures, standups, "telling" anecdotes)

1.    Keep in mind your focus: what's my point?
2.    Make your point more than once and in different ways each time, especially in longer pieces
       (once in the anchor lead, once in a soundbite, once in narration, once with a natural sound sequence, etc.).
3.    Make sure every element advances the story.
4.    End with something strong.
 

Write the script...

1.    What's the point of this story?
2.    Use narration to tell objective information (statistics, locations, order of events).
3.    Use soundbites to tell subjective information (what it was like, reaction, opinion, analysis, emotions).
4.    Always remember: clarity and brevitv come from selection, not compression.
5.    Include tiny details when they help tell the story.
 

...Edit the script and then edit the tape.

1.    Make sure every paragraph, sentence, phrase and word are necessary.  Dump the ones that aren't.
2.    Cut off the twigs and branches. Climb the trunk.
3.    Read the story aloud to someone else. Ask if she understands it.
4.    Make sure you've written in a way that allows you to stay with your visual and aural sequences
       as long as possible.

Look at the story the next day, think about how it could have been better, and  remember everything that is good about it.
 
 

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