A few thoughts on editing young reporters for community news

After a few years of working closely with other reporters, I’ve found the points we most often talk about. Here’s a list.

  • Tell me something that matters with your lede.
  • Anecdotal ledes should follow through the narrative arc. That anecdote better be in your kicker too
  • Either a story I want or a lesson I need. Readers want a great story or something that can help them (preferably both)
  • Where is your nut graf? This always feels like what is most often missing. This is the pivot between a story and your point: what broader context brings this together?
  • Structure and pace are two different skillsets
  • Prepare headlines and stories for the wider social web. Help think through the tightest way to explain the importance of your story.
  • Allow your story to be focused locally and understood globally
  • That’s redundant, which means a waste of words, which is a sin.
  • Know what your news site believes in. Who is your audience? What is the worldview? What is the broader narrative this story fits in?
  • How could this story be told differently?
  • What would the reader most need? What would help the reader scan? Would bullet points help?
  • You haven’t earned long sentences; shorter sentences for pace
  • Move faster; ship product
  • Be flawless on grammar
  • Hyperbole and cliche is where imprecision lives
  • Human elements to give the reader a break from technical pieces
  • Lead with attribution on purpose, either for style or more likely because the source matters. otherwise, lead with the lesson. the attribution is the footnote.
  • Link for more information
  • Have a call to action and make it easy
  • When in doubt disclose. Transparency over all else

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