Copy editing, skeptical editing

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  • 1. Copy Editing:When Stories Fall ShortPracticing Skepticism; Story FramingWarren Watson Arizona State University2012

2. Communication Is Our Business,But Sometimes It Just Goes Terribly Wrong! 3. What We Know About All Readers Readers make connections --They relate events to their own experience Readers want context -- So what? Who cares? I dont understand. Readers are intelligent -- No need to dumb down Readers appreciate news in various forms -- Stories, photos, graphics, lists, charts Readers read! -- They will make the time if its worth it 4. Reporting and Writing Process Focus: every story should have one mainidea to which all other ideas relate. Elements of good writing: --- Dialogue --- Background --- Observation --- Description 5. The Six-Step Writing Process Generate idea Collect Organize Focus Revise RewriteA story can go awry at any step!!! 6. Reducing the Chance That Stories Wont Meet the MarkWriting teacher Jane Harrigan of the Universityof New Hampshire lists six essential questionsthat every reporter should ask before completingand handing in a story:1) Who said so? Who else should know aboutthis? Who is affected by this? Who cares?more 7. Key Questions2) What is the news? What input will ithave? Whats the point? What else doreaders want to know?3) When did people say these things? Whenwill the impact be felt? When should we doa followup?More 8. Key Questions4) Where is the focus of the story? Where isthe information to support the lead?5) Why are we writing about this? Whyshould readers care?6) How do I know this is accurate? Howcan the information be confirmed?--- From Harrigans The Editorial Eye 9. Logic and Form We also need to focus on the forest,not just the trees. The big picture in stories. Does a piece make sense? Does a delayed lead work? Is there sufficient context? How much background is enough? 10. Background What background is essential depends to adegree on the readership and section the storywill appear. News is more critical. Sports and entertainment often assume somelevel of knowledge and can be less formal. But reporters sometimes get too close to asubject. 11. Skeptical Editing: Prosecuting the StorySometimes it takes a fiasco or two to remindus that skepticism is a big part of the editingfunction. Its our job to challengeinformation reporters bring back to thenewspaper, and to question conclusionsdrawn from that information.--- Reid MacCluggage, former APME president 12. Cross-examine the storyPut the story in the witness stand andcross-examine it. Tear it apart. Exposeits weaknesses. Raise all theunanswered questions. Cast doubt on it Stories dont need advocates. Whatstories need are adversaries. ---Lou Boccardi, The AP 13. Tips for Prosecuting the Story Are you looking at the totality of thestory for completeness, fairness? Guarantee accuracy, and truthfulness Avoid zealot-like behavior: can youargue both sides of the story? Answer your inner voice -- it alwaysspeaks when you try to cut corners. Watch the use of statistics Get fresh eyes to look at a story. 14. More Prosecuting Tips Watch the use of statistics its easy tomanipulate them to make a point. Get fresh eyes to look at a story. Consider the previously unthinkable --be as innovative in being fair as ingetting the information itself. If a story seems to good to be true, itprobably isnt. 15. Finding Winning Ideas: NPR Techniques The National Public Radio approach:* Think a story forward: * What coming up next? s* Think a story backward * What at the root of the issue? s* Think a story outward * How have others dealt with the issue? 16. What Copy Editors Should Ask Is story grammatical? Is story organized? Words spelled right? Is it objective? Do numbers add up? Is it fair? Names, titles correct? Is it clear? Proper style used? Is it concise? Things complete? Have quotes added to Have we used the the meaning?correct lead? 17. Editors Role: Clarifying the Story Copy editors handle 4 major tasks:* To improve stories* To prepare material for publication* To write headlines, captions* To answer 3 questions about each story: So what! Says who! What does it mean!? 18. Self-Editing Checklist Does your story have a clear Check for proper grammarfocus? Proper punctuation? Is your lead supported by Check for AP and local styleyour material? Check for wordiness and Have you given enoughusage problems:background?redundancies, misused words Check for accuracy in theseand phrasesareas: math, names, Are your sentences too long?spelling, dates, time 19. And the Big Three! So What?! What if? What does it mean?A strong nut or context paragraph usuallyaddresses these three points. 20. Tragedy in Colorado SpringsAn exercise in journalistic empathy . 21. Story Framing How stories are shaped, their point of view Conflict often overused; in the real world, not allevents are contests, with winners and losers Watch out for the dispassionate observer frame Choosing a frame for any story is the mostpowerful decision a journalist can make 22. A Reframed Approach to the StoryThe following is another version of the re-framed story, suggested by two editors fromThe Los Angeles Times 23. They were the best of friends. Amy andAmanda, an athlete and an honor student. They spent their weekends andweeknights together. Sunday morning, they diedtogether. was the second fatal traffic accident toIttake the lives of Falcon High School students sofar this year. 24. State Patrol officers say they do not knowwhere 17-year-old Amy Fournier and 16-year-oldAmanda Brockman, both juniors, were headed asFournier drove her 1984 Chevrolet Chevette northon Curtis Road just before noon Sunday. They do know the Chevette ran a stop signand was struck on the right by a westbound 1993GMC Jimmy, driven by Duncan R. Pelham, 37, ofPeyton.