Twitter is a treasure trove of valuable information on pretty much anything and everything. Many journalists use Twitter as a place to look for story inspiration, leads, and contacts. It is the prime forum for journalists to connect and exchange ideas and tips. We came across a great Twitter thread created by EJ Dickson, Culture Writer for Rolling Stone. As we read this thread, we saw great tips, tricks, and anecdotes from all walks to journalism. For that reason, we are highlighting some of our favorite answers and why we find these reporters’ contributions so valuable!
Journalists: what is the best reporting advice you’ve gotten during your career?
— joyce carol foot (@ejdickson) July 7, 2020
One tweet that caught our attention was from Jaya Sundares, Editor-in-Chief of Them and Us Media. She tweeted:
a story isn’t a story if it doesn’t have an angle. it’s just a topic if it doesn’t have an angle.
— Jaya Sundaresh (@shutupjaya) July 7, 2020
The terms “story” and “topic” are often used interchangeably though they are not the same. We love her clear-cut distinction between the two, boiling it down to the importance of an angle. Topics are general and neutral in perspective. Angles are the perspectives and points of view taken about topics that create a story.
Though there is a time in place for the bare-bones facts, many journalists’ stories aim to portray topics from new and untold angels to give readers insight into different worlds and viewpoints. It is important for new journalism professionals to understand the angles they are approaching in their stories. Though they might evolve throughout the process, angles provide one direction and help guide a story to fruition.
The next tweet we are highlighting is regarding the age-old journalism practice of interviews. Getting the facts to lay a story’s foundation requires understanding topics often through interviewing experts, sources, and leads. But it does not stop at just one source. Mary Emily O’Hara, Diversity and Inclusion Reporter at AdWeek, reminds us of the importance of continuing one’s curiosity. She tweets:
Always ask “Who else should I talk to?” as the interview wraps up
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) July 7, 2020
As a new journalist in search of honest reporting, it is always important to capture as much information about a topic as possible to portray the nuance and dimensions accurately. The follow-up question “Who else should I talk to?” allows you to grow your understanding that can make or break a story.
Still, though collecting as much information as possible is recommended, new journalists need to be mindful of when it is time to stop. Katie Rosman, Features Reporter at The New York Times, addresses the confines of one’s role as a journalist tweeting:
A story takes the amount of time you have to do it.
— katie rosman (@katierosman) July 8, 2020
Deadlines are fixed and constraints are made. New journalists should understand the confines of their task and use that as a structure to create the best story one can given the circumstances. Often one will be surprised in what he or she can produce when challenged.
Nevertheless, the one constant in the world of journalism is its continued evolution throughout history. This age-old profession holds the great importance of honestly communicating the present to inform and impact the future. To new journalists embarking on this daunting yet exciting career, we root for you!
If you are a new journalist looking to learn from tenured professionals in your beat, be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on our journalism and PR blogs, podcasts, and resources! Have you ever been curious about how writers from outlets like TechCrunch, AdWeek, and CNBC find and craft original stories? Read our blog 3 Journalists Going Back to the Basics to learn more.