Journalism tips

Journalism Tips

Key links
Poynter Institute: Covering the Bases
Journalism: Writing and Editing (from Poynter Institute)
Journalism: Design and Graphics (from Poynter Institute)

Journalism Dos and Don’ts

1. Consider your topic

  • Is is newsworthy?
  • Is it controversial or in some way interesting?
  • Is there new information? Update?
  • Is it unique?

2. Sources and attribution

  • Quotes
  • Expert opinion — not your opinion
  • If you do research and have the facts and figures, write where they came from
  • With research papers, you have footnotes and bibliography; with journalism, you integrate the sources into your story

3. Keep active voice

  • NO: Albany is ranked 54th among the 327 most dangerous cities in America, based on FBI data.
  • YES: The FBI ranks …

4. Believe and Feel
As a journalist, you write what people say or do or report. You don’t know what or how people believe or feel, only what they SAY they believe or feel.

5. Hyphens for compound modifiers

  • 30-day trial
  • three-round format

6. Numbers
AP style: numerals if 10 or higher (unless starting a sentence); numerals for ages

7. Time

  • 1 p.m. (NOT 1:00 PM)
  • midnight (NOT 12 a.m.)
  • noon (NOT 12 p.m.)

8. Keep punctuation inside quotes (,”)

9. Very
Don’t use this word. It’s an adverb that modifies an adjective. If the adjective needs "very," you need to use a different and better adjective. "Very" is overused and has lost its effectiveness.

10. Editorial/commentary

  • Avoid I, me, my, us, our, we
  • Don’t use “seems” (a concluding word)
  • Build a strong case and let the readers come to the intended conclusion on their own

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