In my very first informational interview with Ms. Sarah Mervosh of the Dallas Morning News, I was recommended an organization called Poynter as a valuable resource in my journalism studies. Poynter, a global leader in journalism educating journalists on how to be successful in the twenty-first century, offers countless articles in every different area that journalists need to cover- ethics, commentary, business, news, storytelling, etc. I decided that, to get a head start on experience in writing about current events and news, I would analyze a news article. Analyzing how it is written- its objectivity, its use of quotes, and its format- in addition to its actual content, has helped me gain “insights into handling a fast-moving story with caution” (Hare 1).
In the article, I gained a better understanding of how to utilize investigative journalism to write a story. I also learned about perhaps the biggest news fiasco of the summer- Ryan Lochte’s Rio Olympics “robbery” story- and how journalists sorted through the ever-changing influx of quotes, interviews, and statements concerning it. The article details how one particular news group- USA Today- pieced together the conflicting bits of information thrown at them. Using their inside knowledge of the city and diverse skillset, a talented group of reporters at USA today (including one reporter who actually lives in Rio and is familiar with its dynamic and inner workings) took a close look at statements issued by Lochte and Rio officials and noticed disparities in them. By taking time to closely analyze the big picture of Lochte’s story, rather than scrambling to be the first to get the story as so many media groups do, this particular group noticed gaps in the story that others missed. Their resulting series of stories get more and more detailed every time as they gather more information, and are some of the most reliable sources of information on this topic.
First, my new understanding of the importance of journalists’ critical analysis skills will benefit me in my study of journalism by helping me look more closely at stories when I write about them. Hare’s description of a journalist’s job duty as to “find the threads that stick a bit too far out and pull at them until they fall apart or come together” stuck out to me; it made me realize that journalists not only present the facts they are given, but it is also their job to make connections to larger issues, gather new facts, and do research on the surrounding circumstances. To do that, a journalist must be able to look deep under the surface of a story- past what is easily seen- and really get to the root of the story. Another skill that would benefit my journalism study is taking time to view the bigger picture of a story rather than rushing through it to be the first to publish it. When writing on stories in the future, it will be important to remember to take a look at the big picture every now and then to make sure that I am covering all of my bases and presenting every angle one could take on the story. On the more technical side of things, I learned that news articles are formatted in a matter-of-fact, easy to read manner—the syntax is not always grammatically correct as sentence fragments are used. This is because, I inferred, news reports aren’t so much about sounding pretty as getting their point across.
My newfound knowledge about current event reporting and writing has taught me many critical skills to have when working in a news setting—skills that will hopefully, in the future, aid me in successfully shedding light on and making sense of significant events for the public.
Annotated Articles: annotated-articles-research-assessment-3