Media Reporting: Principles and Practices of Journalism in a Multimedia World


James Glen Stovall

Central to the act of journalism is the act of reporting. Journalism cannot exist without reporting, without reporters who are willing to dig up information in all sorts of unlikely places and from all sorts of unlikely people. Nothing matters in journalism without reporting.

Media Reporting coverThat’s why Media Reporting: Principles and Practices of Journalism in a Multimedia World was written. Students who have an interest in journalism should — must — understand that good reporting is the core. Intelligent, insightful, efficient gathering of information. Information that is original, relevant, important and useful.

Journalism doesn’t exist without it.

Reporting is hard work. It is frustrating and difficult. Reporters are constantly called upon to use their wit and imagination, to think of where information is and who has it — and then to persuade those who have it to give it up. Reporters do not have subpoena power. They cannot compel sources to part with their information.

So a reporter must sell the source on the importance of what the reporter is doing.

None of that is easy.

But reporting, hard as it is, can also be fun and exciting. It can take a young person to places he or she would never see otherwise. It can put the reporter in touch with the most interesting people on earth. It gives the reporter a front-row seat on the human condition.

It’s not always a pretty picture, but it is almost inevitably interesting and enlightening.






Table of Contents

Forward                                                                              5

Contributors to this book                                                                                      7

Author                                                                                                                                  7

Tennessee Journalism Series                                                                                  8

1. Journalistic reporting                                            9

1.1 Information                                                                                                           10

1.2 Accuracy                                                                                                                  14

1.3 Verification                                                                                                           18

1.4 Sources                                                                                                                      22

1.5 Credibility                                                                                                              26

1.6 Professionalism                                                                                                   30

1.7 Interviewing                                                                                                          34

1.8 Public information                                                                                           39

1.9 Observation                                                                                                           43

1.10 Linking                                                                                                                    47

1.11 Confidentiality                                                                                                51

1.12 Ethics: Covering tragedy                                                                           55

2. Deadline reporting                                                 58

2.1 Types of stories                                                                                                    59

2.2 Covering breaking news                                                                                61

2.3 Instructors: Preparing your students to cover breaking news        64

2.4 The UT experience                                                                                              66

3. Tools of reporting                                                  68

3.1 Writing                                                                                                                     69

3.2 Charts and maps                                                                                                  72

3.3 Photojournalism                                                                                                81

3.3 Audio journalism                                                                                                84

3.5 Video journalism                                                                                                92


4. Exercises and assignments                                 105

4.1 Audio slideshow assignment                                                                    105

4.2 Writing a VO (voice over) story for video                                    109

4.3 Facts for a story: Fuel efficiency                                                       111

4.4 Building a story with public data                                                      113

4.5 Video interview                                                                                                115

4.6 Scavenger Hunt: Sources                                                                           116

4.7 Sex Offenders Registry                                                                               117

4.8 Beginning-of-the-term audio slideshow                                        119

4.9 Scavenger Hunt: Public records                                                          120

4.10 Scavenger Hunt: Photos                                                                          121

5. The First Amendment                                           122

5.1 Religion                                                                                                                 123

5.2 Speech                                                                                                                      125

5.3 Press                                                                                                                         127

5.4 Assembly                                                                                                                131

5.5 Petition                                                                                                                  132

5.6 History                                                                                                                   134


Tennessee Journalism Series      8

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