How to Be a Good Journalist

Lesson Twenty

Being a part of the yearbook committee is like splitting your time between being a photographer, a designer, and a journalist. In this Chalktalk, we are going to focus on the journalism end of the yearbook committee and share some ways to be the best journalist you can be.

  1. Always verify your information. Go to the source and check the facts. For example, if Jimmy tells you that Diane is the active leader of the Cooking Club, you need to go directly to Diane to verify that she is the leader of the Cooking Club before you put that information in the yearbook.
  2. Write like you are telling a story. When you write a story for the yearbook, think of yourself as an artist painting a picture with words.
  3. Be truthful. Don’t tell a false story in the yearbook because it is more exciting than what really happened. Never twist the words of an interviewee to change the way the story is interpreted.
  4. Make interviews feel like you are having a conversation. It will make your interviewee more comfortable and your overall interview flow more naturally. It is good to prepare questions for your interviewee, but use them as guide rather than as a script.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewee to repeat themselves if you missed what they said. Asking interviewees to repeat themselves is a much better than misquoting them. No one wants to look back in their yearbook to see something quoted to them that they didn’t actually say.
  6. Proofread, take a break, and proofread again. After working on something for several hours and reading over it several times, you may think it’s ready to be published. Wait a day or two and look at it again. There is a good chance that you will find minor mistakes that you didn’t see before because you needed to take a step away.
  7. Be invested in your story. No one wants to read a story that the writer didn’t put effort into. If you are bored while writing your story, there is a good chance your reader will also be bored.
  8. Be curious. A journalist needs to be curious enough to look deeper than what’s on the surface. Do more than find the information that is readily available to the general public.
  9. Be invested in the story without being biased. As we stated above, it’s important that you are invested in your story, but it is also important that you do so without putting any personal opinions in the story (unless it’s an opinion piece).
  10. Most importantly, have fun! Remember the reason for all of the work you are doing—to make the best yearbook your school has ever seen. If you are having fun while making your yearbook, it will show.  

Now go out a be a great journalist!