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Archive for March, 2013

While online news outlets are busy feeding off the “Jedi mind meld” gaffe President Obama made today, I feel like I am recovering from a news “mind meld” courtesy Poynter’s Al Tompkins.

From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday, I sucked in as much as could in the short time period he presented to two different groups at the news station I work for.

Here are my takeaways:

  • Make your headlines a promise and then deliver on that promise in the story.
  • Use the cutline! Tell the viewer what they don’t know. It is one of the first places that readers look at, according to Poynter eye-track studies.
  • “When I show you the little person affected, you start connecting with it,” Tompkins said. He was showing us USA Today’s interactive feature on Ghost Factories.
  • Linking to additional resources is good. Expanding your stories with the info in those additional resources is GREAT!
  • Start the day knowing at least 3 big things for the day’s coverage.
  • Acclimate your viewers to make it a habit to share their pictures/video with you <user generated content.
  • Make “the web” a way for users to experience the story.
  • Write how you talk. Duh!
  • Raise your right hand and take this oath: I will never cut and paste from a TV news script.

On top of all the great information, Mr. Tompkins signed my copy of “Aim for the Heart.” That book I credit for helping me get past my fear of ‘gasp’ writing.

Thanks, Mr. Tompkins!

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