Welcome to Journalism 101, a series where I will lead you down the path of becoming a journalist along with me. When I learn something new I plan on sharing it with you. Check out these first five basics I’ve taken in with me to the journalism world.
Beat Talk It Out of Them– Get your answers. If you ask to interview someone or simply try to initiate conversation, don’t let them brush you off. If they say no, just walk away. However, if they only seem uncertain, try to make your interviewee feel comfortable. Don’t push people to answer questions they don’t want to answer. If you go easier on them now, they might be willing to answer better questions later.
Prepare– Know what you want to ask ahead of time. Create a “skeleton” of generic questions relative to the person or event you are writing about. Don’t feel trapped to only those questions when it comes down to it. Always carry your necessities-
Voice recorder, camera, video camera, note paper, pens, folder, etc.
Be Branded– Have business cards or pens that state your basic contact/ business information so people you talk to know who you are and where to find your work. If people know who you are before talking to you and know they will be able to find the work you do later on, they will be more willing to participate in your research.
Have Initiative– Take the extra steps other people may not be asking you to take. When you go above and beyond without having someone else give you a push you get more of the credit, you get the bigger picture, and you get the better story.
Be Spontaneous– Don’t be too prepared. If they answer your questions unexpectedly, be listening so you can ask questions off the top of your head. Make sure your conversations are interactive and interesting. Keep in mind that you came prepared with a “skeleton” of questions. Once you get beyond your basic questions feel free to get the meat, muscle, and skin so you can build that strong “body” article.