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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

How to talk to a reporter (how to be a quotable 'source')


After this first excellent section for scientists are links to advice for other disciplines.


For scientists speaking to reporters:

These four sets of savvy tips from SciLine are excellent and, along with the realistic subtips, are easily transferable to non-science interviews. Click on the sources to get all the points and sub-points.
Five tips for scientists speaking to reporters (SciLine, American Association for the Advancement of Science)
    1. Write down 3 points you want to make.
    3. If you disagree with the premise of a question, say so. It’s not rude to say...
    5. Remember these DOs and DON’Ts.
Five tips for scientists handling media requests (SciLine, AAAS)
    1. Ask the right questions.
    2. Triage your interview opportunities.
    4. Keep in mind that this is a live video briefing.
Five tips for media briefing panelists (SciLine, AAAS)
    1. Develop your remarks around 2-3 key points you want to convey—then practice.
    2. Put your science into relevant context.
Five tips for boot camp speakers (SciLine, AAAS)
    2. Keep slides and visuals straightforward.
    3. Tailor your remarks for an audience of curious, attentive, non-specialty reporters.   

    4. Keep in mind that all presentations, Q&A, and informal discussions are on the record.


 As journalist Liz Scherer advises:

• Approach your interviews as if they are conversations. The best conversations are the ones where you, the source, provide little kernels of information that ultimately enhance the story, even if the reporter's questions don't specifically address that topic.

• Think about your answers as telling a story rather than simply providing context around data points or findings.


The Terms You Need to Know Before You Talk to Journalists (David Gerzof Richard, Zen Business) What is an exclusive? What is an embargo? The difference between 'on the record' and 'off the record'. Between 'on background' and 'deep background'. And remember, 'no comment' seems to imply 'guilty'.

Guidelines for Talking to the Media (Harvard Innovation Labs)
---Be concise (Get to the point quickly and stay there.)
---Respond quickly to reporters; they work on tight deadlines.
---Lead with your key points.
---Make your key points over and over.
---Make your key points almost regardless of the questions asked.
---'Juicy' or sensational comments WILL find their way into a story. Etc.

How to Meet the Press (Chester Burger, Harvard Business Review, 1975) Good introductory discussion (including how not to get your company into trouble with dumb statements) and then important points, including:
---1. Talk from the viewpoint of the public’s interest, not the company’s.
---3. If you do not want some statement quoted, do not make it. Corporate spokesmen should avoid “off-the-record” statements. There is no such thing as “off-the-record.”
---4. State the most important fact at the beginning.

How to Talk to a Journalist (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism)
13 Tips for Academics on How to Talk to Journalists ( Dwight Knell, The Media Manipulation Casebook)
How to Talk to Reporters (Scholars Strategy Network)
10 Tips on Speaking with the Media (BU Public Relations)

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How to Have Productive Conversations in a Polarized World

Discussing differences, conversing even when you disagree, listening to each other, bridging communities, saving local news

Let’s build a world where we can talk — and listen — to each other, Part 1 (Lisa Rossi, JSK Class of 2018, 6-5-18) "In an era when local news is declining, who is left to ask a public official a question about a confusing new policy? To get to the bottom of a school rumor about a teen in trouble? We are. Regular folks. Why building better conversations is an important building block to a healthy local news eco-system.

      "We need higher quality conversations. By re-learning how to talk to each after a decade of living our lives virtually, moment upon moment smeared by misinformation, posturing, trolls, vaguebooking, virality, online bullying, influencers and manipulators, we are reclaiming our very humanity, and along with that, our ability to discern fact from fiction, argue with a stranger (or family member) without yelling or hurling ugly insults, and learn from someone distinctly differently from ourselves. "
13 lessons for journalists to build high-quality conversations, Part 2 (Lisa Rossi, JSK Class of 2018, 6-5-18) Packed with resources, and (with Michael Bolden) the source of most links below.
Introducing Chatpool: Promoting Civilized, Constructive Conversation in a Politically Polarized Society(Inyoung Choi, Medium) A team of Stanford students built an app called Chatpool, designed to foster more civilized conversation between people at odds. They wanted an online tool that could address increasing political polarization and hostility, by creating a space where journalists and their readers could come together to share both sides of a topic, hoping to cultivate empathy across ideological spectrums.
The Hello Project. See How did we get here? (Yvonne Leow, Medium, 2-23-17) "The next morning I launched The Hello Project (THP). I wanted to know if two strangers would be willing to jump on a 20-minute video call to talk about political issues. I wanted to know if confronting our shared humanity would lead to a productive, maybe even insightful conversation."
How to Fight by Thich Nhat Hanh (Mindfulness Essentials series) Turn disagreements and conflicts into opportunities for growth, compassion, and reconciliation.
Where Should We Begin?, a podcast with the incomparable therapist Esther Perel, who asks people to practice “integrating the experience of the other” as they construct their own argument. This makes the conversation less polarizing. Listen to her counsel real couples as they reveal the most intimate, personal, and complicated details of the conflicts that have brought them to her door.
25 Trump voters from Alabama + 25 Clinton voters from San Francisco = 1 surprisingly good Facebook group (Ricardo Bilton, NiemanLab, 3-16-17) With dialogue journalism, Spaceship Media aims to cover and dispel conflict without adding to it.
Why ‘Dialogue Journalism’ Is Having a Moment (Tiffany Lew, MediaShift, 2-15-18) In a polarizing moment when trust in media and the government is low, a number of new projects, now sometimes called “dialogue journalism,” from organizations including Spaceship Media, Hello Project, and the Seattle Times are focusing on bridging communities and pushing diverse viewpoints.
Conversations with People Who Hate Me (Dylan Marron, podcast, with transcripts) In an internet era characterized by comment section wars, devastating clapbacks, and anonymous vitriol, Dylan Marron explores what happens when online feuders step out from behind the keyboard and get to know the human on the other side of the screen. Episode guide and transcripts
The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life
On the Table Small, informal mealtime conversations brought together Chicago area residents from different races and ethnicities to talk in a personal, often challenging way about race relations.
Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project by Dave Isay
Coffee-House Libraries in Mid-Eighteenth-Century London
Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men (Rhaina Cohen, Shankar Vedantam, and Tara Boyle on Hidden Brain, NPR, 3-19-18) What happens when half the population gets the message that needing others is a sign of weakness and that being vulnerable is unmanly.
How this local Texas site used tacos to cover its community (Joseph Lichterman, Lenfest Institute, 1-4-18) The Texas-based Tyler Loop took its readers on a taco tour through the city to help illustrate — and try to bridge — divisions in Tyler.
Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson. Her underlying claim: if you are willing to be completely present, making full use of whatever happens, you will find goodness in any situation.
As conversation winds down, women from Alabama and California discuss race, other challenges (Jeremy Hay and Eve Pearlman, Spaceship Media and AL.com, Birmingham Real-Time News, 1-15-17) "I think that there has been a growing tendency to not consider communicating with someone you disagree with - and I don't understand that." <

Local news
“De Correspondent” and the blueprint for a successful membership model (Frederic Filloux, Monday Note, 10-16-17) The Dutch news website cover stories that tend to escape the mainstream media radar because they don’t fit neatly into the drama of the 24-hour news cycle, "shifting the focus from the sensational to the foundational and from the attention-grabbing headline to the constructive insight."
Journalism isn’t dying. But it is changing in ominous ways. (Christopher B. Daly, Washington Post, 7-31-18) Without coverage at local and state level, misconduct will thrive.
Saving Local News (full section on the topic, under Journalism)
As conversation winds down, women from Alabama and California discuss race, other challenges (Jeremy Hay and Eve Pearlman, Spaceship Media and AL.com, Birmingham Real-Time News, 1-15-17) "I think that there has been a growing tendency to not consider communicating with someone you disagree with - and I don't understand that." <
Do you know what your local government is up to? (Tam Harbert)
How to solve the local news crisis? (Don Day) An endowment system (instead of corporate control)
Fake news: A very (early) modern problem (the many-headed monster, 12-5-16) Dr Francis Young examines the parallels between contemporary digital fake news and English civil war newsbooks.
The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu
Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World's Most Successful Entrepreneurs by Reid Hoffman. How to do good and do good business.

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