Sunday, December 1, 2013

News Writing Tips

By Matt Cavallo

In the book Newswriting on Deadline, there is a piece written about a reporter named Ross Markman, who is only one of three reporters for the Montana newspaper Havre Daily News. This piece on Markman is a perfect example to show young up and coming journalists what it takes to be a great reporter. It includes a story that Markman wrote about people exceeding a two-hour parking limit that was set on streets in downtown Havre. They also include Markman reflecting on the pieces he has written and the format he uses to report on a story.

Markman emphasizes that “A reporter has to do his homework before a meeting ever starts,” notes book editor Tony Rogers. To be well prepared when reporting a story, he says it is crucial to be ready beforehand so you know what’s going on in any event that you are covering.

This piece also talks about how Markman writes his story and how he prepares for a meeting or an event he has to cover. For example, Markman always finds out the agenda of the event he is covering and gets as much background information as possible. Markman sometimes writes background copy or B-copy before the meeting starts. Then when the meeting or event he is covering is over he can just top the background copy with the new information he just heard. Markman’s method is crucial for busy reporters. “There is no excuse for a reporter not doing this kind of preparation,” adds Rogers.

Another tip that Markman gives is that a key to covering meetings and other events is figuring out how the story begins, or figuring out what is the lead. He says to determine what the lead of the story is “You have to determine what’s newsworthy, I think of issues in terms of how they affect people. …Everything they do in these meetings has an effect on somebody.”

I think this piece is very well written and will help new reporters format their style of reporting. This piece will also help new reporters correct the mistakes that they make when they cover a story. If you are a young journalist looking for some advice and looking to brush up on your reporting skills,  check out this article on Ross Markman and look up some more stories that Markman has written for the Havre Daily News.

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