Be A Citizen Journalist

“Citizen Journalism” or Participatory Journalism is an evolving form of journalism through user generated content. When any common man in his capacity as  a citizen of a nation takes up the initiative to report things or express his views about happenings around him then the occurrence is popularly termed as citizen journalism or participatory journalism.Citizen Journalists are not bound by the conventional term of a journalist.

Citizen journalists take up an initiative to express ideas irrespective of their educational or professional background. In a way this emerging form of journalism is promising a scenario of breaking free from media bias as well as taking local news on a global platform. Send your news and views at   theindiapost@gmail.com  , theindiapost@rediffmail.com

“Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”- C.P. Scott, editor, Manchester Guardian, 1921

The India Post Citizen Journalist Writing Guide

Here are some helpful tips about journalistic writing

  • Begin your article with the basic details of the story – who, what, when and where. Readers need to know the key points from the start.
  • Spend the remainder of the article explaining the how and the why, saving the least important info for the end of the article in case it has to be cut .
  • Use direct quotes when the subject explains or expresses something in their own words in the best or most interesting way.
  • Direct quotes should be on a separate line and should end in either she/he said or said Diana. Never said she or Diana said.
“We’re all the richer for a society which values music as a part of every child’s education,” he said.

  • Paraphrasing explains or sums up things the subject said without directly quoting.
St Hilda’s music director Janette Kelly said that the entire junior class, about 500 students, spent a month preparing for the big day.

  • Numbers one through nine are written as words and 10 and above are numbers. Two exceptions to this are when a sentence begins with a number you write it out (Twelve people attended the event) or for a student’s year level, which is written Year 6.
  • Quotations and action verbs should be in the past tense – he said not he says, she crossed the finish line not she crosses the finish line.
  • The first time you mention a person use their full name, Bobby Smith, but for the remainder of the article call them Bobby or if it is an adult or professional refer to them as Mr or Mrs Smith.
  • Articles should be between around 300 words in length.
  • Spell check your article and have a friend or parent , teacher read it before sending it in.

Tips for a Better Interview

1.  Be prepared! Always read up on the subject you are reporting about and the person you are interviewing. Your source will appreciate your effort, and you will be able to skip questions that can be answered by an assistant, book or document. When scheduling the appointment, ask your source to suggest documents or other sources of information about the topic you will discuss. The interviewee will appreciate your interest and often share valuable documents before the interview. Make sure your tape recorder has batteries that work. Bring an extra tape as well as pens and notebook.

2.  Set the rules of the interview right up front! Be sure your subject understands the story you are working on (this will help keep the interview on track). Additionally, the interviewee must understand that everything they say is “on the record.” It is best to establish these ground rules when making the interview appointment. Although most government officials have enough experience with the media to indicate when something is “off-the record” or “on background,” other experts may not understand the differences. Remember that an upfront clarification may be required (especially when your source’s job or life could be endangered by being quoted).

3.  Be on time! The worst impression you can make on a source is being late for the interview.

4.  Be observant! Observe details of the place and of your interviewing partner; this can add color to your story. If you are interviewing people in their home or office, be sure to get a good look around and note what you see. For example, they may have some old photos that show them in a more personal light. You may start an interview with assumptions about a person and leave with a completely different impression. However, this may be exactly what your source intended. Perception is a tricky business! Try to talk to others, colleagues or friends of your source, to get a bigger picture.

5.  Be polite. Don’t rush your source! It is important to establish a polite rapport and a level of comfort for the interviewee. Some interviewees, on the other hand, need a couple minutes to become comfortable talking to reporters. Even though you may only have 30 minutes for an interview, you should not rush your subject. If you sense the interviewee is in a hurry, adjust your timing accordingly. Keep in mind, everyone is different. Taking the time to get to know your sources will prove valuable, especially when you need to call with follow-up questions or use them as a source for future stories. If the interview goes well, it may even go beyond the scheduled time. Give yourself plenty of time between appointments to avoid scheduling conflicts.

6.  Listen but don’t be afraid to interrupt when you don’t understand! Keep your audience in mind! One reason you are conducting this interview is to explain it to your readers. If your subject uses scientific jargon or explanations only his/her peers would understand, politely interrupt and ask for further explanation. Never be embarrassed about not knowing something.

7.  Silence is golden. Sooner or later you will have to ask the tough questions that your subject may be loath to discuss. When you start asking those provocative questions, the answers most likely will be short, useless or carefully worded. You may not get an answer at all. If this occurs, look your source in the eye and don’t say a word. In most cases, your opponent will begin to feel uncomfortable and begin to share information again. If this doesn’t work, ask for sources who might be able to answer your question.

8.  Maintain eye contact! A reporter who spends most of the interview bent over taking notes or looking into a notebook can be as disconcerting as a tape recorder in an interviewee’s face. While taking notes and recording the interview, maintain as much eye contact as possible. Learn to take abbreviated notes looking down only once in a while so you can focus on your interviewee. This will make the interview more like a conversation, and enable everyone to be more relaxed.

9.  Before your leave… ask your source if there is anything that you might have forgotten to ask. Perhaps the interviewee is burning to tell you useful information, but you did not even think to ask that question. Don’t leave without getting a contact number or e-mail address and a good time to call with follow-up questions. Always ask for other sources. Colleagues or friends of the interviewee may be more knowledgeable or willing and able to speak to you. Thank your source for spending time talking with you before you leave.

10.  Review your notes right after the interview! Don’t wait until the end of the day or later in the week to review your notes. Go over them right away, while everything is fresh in your mind, filling in your shorthand and elaborating on your observations. Skip that date for drinks with your office pals until after you have reviewed and organized your notes.

Courtsey : International Center for Journalists

Citizen Journalist should abide by these rules

1.  Check your facts
2.  Avoid virtual vendettas
3.  Obey the law
4.  Weigh promises
5.  Reveal secrets selectively
6.  Consider what you copy
7.  Learn recording limits
8.  Don’t abuse anonymity
9.  Shun conflicts of interest
10. Seek legal advice