Drama is derived from the Greek word drao and it means action. In order to sustain readers’ interest and to keep them constantly engaged, a writer has to keep the drama going. Fiction imitates life and society. When it comes to taking lessons on drama, our beloved media zooms into focus. Making news out a mundane activity like Sanjay Dutt weaving baskets in Yerwada jail is drama! While, we do not endorse the overt dramatization of trivialities, we look for lessons that might help.
We asked our guest writer, Preeti Milind More, about what exactly constitutes news and she tells us about interest, innovation and observation – elements critical for fiction writing. Even if you aren’t interested in news reporter jobs, we believe that one can apply some of these principles into our own fiction writing.
What’s your news?
One visit to a Media office at prime time and here’s the common sight – hoards of reporters huddled around the Editor’s office with their story ideas. Most ideas are rejected for they are not newsworthy. Yes, not all happening incidents/events are good enough to be labelled as News. If you are planning for a career in journalism, here are a few tips to improve your chances of getting the coveted news reporter jobs.
Breaking it down, news is something we hear, see and talk of everyday and sometimes, every hour in the day! But what is it that actually constitutes News?
So, either you are citizen journalist or somebody who aspires to report events around your surroundings for public knowledge and welfare, here are a few tips to follow to ensure your news stands out.
News reporter jobs – How to spot and report news
As a reader / viewer / listener
Place yourself in the position of the audience – What is it that you would want to hear and read as news?
A current incident that took place in your city? Market Inflation/deflation? Entertainment?
Remember – Your story idea and selection depends majorly on your target audience! The topic needs to have a long lasting impact on them – they need to talk about it!
Hit the right spot!
The key words for a person engaged in the job of a news reporter, or for that matter any one interested in a career in journalism:
Interest, Innovation and Observation
If you feel your story has it to be News, go head first and dive into the details.
- What type of news is it?
The criteria for making your story ‘News material’ depend on which section it is going to go to feature in. The quantity as well as nature of information depends on which page you present it in.
For example: The ‘Page 1’ articles needs a main photo on the front page and insets in the continuing pages; whereas a Feature article is simpler where photos can be sourced from the site provided by the news office. The content for ‘Page 1’ article needs to be striking – right from the caption to the front page content.
The Feature article is more of a casual read
- Keep yourself updated
Scan and keep yourself updated on the latest happenings in your area of interest; this could be the geographical area or a particular interest area. If you working at a macro leve l – events happening around the nation or around the world, the newspaper you are associated with will allow you access to a site given by your news office to get the relevant articles.
However, if you need to trace a new story altogether, go to the news location and get first hand information! Check whether it has all the factors to become ‘News’. Interview people, look for eye-witnesses, and ask around for reactions.
- Breaking news? Significance of timing
If the news is of about a latest happening, the news needs to be broken soon enough before your competitor gets to it; and what is more important is that you need to get that ‘something extra’ – ‘a different angle’ – as it is referred to in the newsroom; which they don’t have!
- Uniqueness of the news report
Is your news exclusive? Then capitalise on it- work on the details and get it published soon before your news gets leaked. Even an average interest story should be told soon; if it has to be told. Remember, Its all about who breaks it first!
And by any chance, if you are trying to create a story out of ‘nothing much-in-hand’, then its all the more important to use your creativity and presentation skills.
Sometimes, all news is ‘News’!
- Keep a good eye and seize the opportunity
A good journalist is one who has an eye for details. A picture, they say speaks louder than words!
Presume that we are visiting a hospital and see the unhygienic conditions of the patient’s room swarmed with mosquitoes; click a picture of it.. Voila! A story in your hands! Access the right people and get a ‘quote’ from the dean as well as quotes from the patients there. Demand an explanation from the relevant authorities!
As you can see in the example above, the picture of patients in inhumane conditions stands out as a human interest story! The very sight of the picture will definitely urge you to read more for details- which hospital is this and what’s their explanation etc.
Moreover, a picture story captures the essence of the story; hence, do ensure good quality photographs! Apart from pictures, graphs are also a good way to reduce the reading time; that’s for people who don’t have time to read the entire article. In short, it is essential to see that your idea reaches to your reader, even if it’s just a picture!
- Significance and novelty
A visit by a prominent personality in the city, gossips, dramatic turn of events and all the basic essentials for a Masala Hindi movie works equally for a News story.
Picture this: A remote village, unheard of by anyone is suddenly in the news as a Bollywood Heartthrob is there shooting for his latest film. The ‘till now’ unknown village gets recognition for its handcrafts; but this was revealed because of a prominent personality!
As they say, News can ‘make’ you or ‘break’ you- So be careful in your choice of news ideas!
- Controversy and scandal
These two words are very tempting ideas for a newspaper read. However, it also needs to be handled with utmost care! Such news spread soon and if you are keen to take on such an idea, make sure you get in-depth details of the story vouching for the authenticity, lest your office would receive a legal notice for the same!
News, on the whole needs something that would catch the readers’ eye at first sight. And though everything may seem like news to you; there is a huge way to go when you perceive things from the readers’ point of view. If you are aiming for news reporter jobs, always keep these tips in mind.
Preeti Milind More is a post graduate degree holder in commerce with a Diploma in Business Management. She was employed with The Times of India for a little over 3 years years. She’s written feature articles extensively for Pune Mirror. She has also written lifestyle articles for Magic Tours of India and Sakaal Times – a supplement of SHE.