Storytelling now -- and back then

Storytelling now — and back then

Sometimes I think the process of journalism has changed so much since I started it’s almost unrecognizable. (Scroll down for some early career memories.) But then I consider how much hasn’t changed. Good writing is still good writing, and will be forever. It’s still a craft you can learn, you can always get better at […]

SEO for journalists

SEO for journalists

I’m a reporter. What do I care about SEO? The answer should be “plenty,” if you care whether anyone sees that story you worked so hard on once it’s posted online. Here’s why: The digital audience is made up of seekers and scanners. People seeking information about a particular topic will search for it online. […]

Reading lists

Reading lists

Sometimes it just takes a little nudge. I’ve had a couple of reading lists on this site for years, and it’s been a long time since I updated them. So I’m grateful to the reader who pointed out that a lot of links were out of date and motivated me to fix them! I’ve just updated […]

Morley Safer: One of the greats

Morley Safer: One of the greats

He was a courageous reporter, a gifted writer, and a man who loved to laugh. Morley Safer spent more than 50 years at CBS News and is best known for his work at 60 Minutes, which aired a fitting tribute to him last week. He died just days later. He was 84. It’s hard to sum up […]

NewsLab's top 5 in 2015

NewsLab’s top 5 in 2015

Looking back at the year gone by always gives me some insight into what’s most important to you, NewsLab’s readers, and you never let me down. You care deeply about doing good work and about the future of the news business. No surprise, then, that most of the top five posts in 2015 offered tips you […]

The writing wisdom of Yogi Berra

The writing wisdom of Yogi Berra

As a baseball fan, I’m saddened by the death of Yogi Berra. He was one of the greatest catchers of all time. Even if you didn’t much like the Yankees or Mets (count me in that number), you had to appreciate Yogi’s career as a player and coach. But what I really loved about Yogi was his […]

Great TV storytelling tip: Connect the moments

Great TV storytelling tip: Connect the moments

You’ve probably seen the story. By now, millions of people have. Reporter Boyd Huppert of KARE-TV in Minneapolis calls it the story that broke the Internet–a feature about a little boy and his elderly neighbor that’s been viewed and shared all over the world. Plenty has already been written about why the story touched so […]

Top 10 NewsLab posts of 2013

Top 10 NewsLab posts of 2013

Another year comes to an end with another year-in-review post. I guess you could call it a NewsLab tradition. Taking a look back at the year gone by is one way to get a sense of what NewsLab readers are most interested in; it’s also a way of drawing your attention to popular posts you […]

Storytelling advice: Beginning, middle, end

Storytelling advice: Beginning, middle, end

How many times have you heard this advice? Make sure your story has a beginning, middle and end. Even the great Lewis Carroll shared a version of the standard counsel in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’” Sounds […]

Tips for telling vivid stories

Tips for telling vivid stories

The elements of engaging stories are universal: strong characters, plot, beginning-middle-end, tension, surprise, resolution. What’s more, they’re central to every kind of story, not just features. Just ask investigative reporter Daniel Zwerdling, who has reported on everything from pesticides to mental health in his 30 plus years at NPR. “You can do the greatest investigation of […]

The power of details

The power of details

One challenge TV reporters face is deciding what details belong in a story. Too many and the story bogs down. Too few and it loses impact. What works in a story is “telling” detail: information that conveys a basic truth about a character or situation. Think about the difference between two stories about the aftermath […]

15 rules of storytelling--and then some

15 rules of storytelling–and then some

Writing a two-minute TV news story is nothing like writing a screenplay for a movie. Or is it? Truth is, all writing has some things in common. Take this list from Emma Coats, a former screenwriter at Pixar, the movie studio. Of her 22 rules of storytelling, more than a handful apply to the kind […]

Top 10 NewsLab posts of 2012

Top 10 NewsLab posts of 2012

We’re starting the New Year here at NewsLab by looking back at the year before–just as we did at this time a year ago. In 2012, our readers not only wanted practical tips, they also gravitated toward posts about the state of the news business. Here are our top ten most viewed posts, in case […]

Edit backward

Edit backward

Words have power and the most powerful word in a sentence should come last.  I could have written: Words have power and the last word should be the most powerful one in a sentence. But that would have put the emphasis on “sentence” when I wanted to stress “last.” See the difference? Sometimes, this kind […]

Tips for VJs on writing fast

Tips for VJs on writing fast

Video journalist Anne Herbst firmly believes in preparation. She does research on stories before leaving the newsroom. She shows up to assignments early so she can meet people and figure out in advance who might be a strong character. And she writes fast–an essential skill when you’re working by yourself and you have to do […]