Argus Journalism Workshop

On Tuesday 3rd June I attended a days training in journalism at the Argus, Brighton and Hove’s daily newspaper.

Argus House, Crowhurst Road, Brighton, BN1 8AR
Argus House, Crowhurst Road, Brighton, BN1 8AR

After working in Communications and Media at Sightsavers this was fantastic as I was building on some basic knowledge of story writing.

We learnt the essential skills for journalists such as news sense, including the five news values (below), and took part in editing and writing exercises. I was delighted to be emailed later on in the week with the following feedback:

“Really good organised approach to writing  which takes on board the vital  ingredients.  Nice short punchy simple sentence construction and good use of quotations. You get a lot down on paper in a short space of time and manage to update well as the story develops which shows real promise. Well done!”

(Caroline North, Brighton Journalist Works, The Argus)

I enjoyed the tour of the newsroom, meeting the Argus staff and hearing about the reality of the job. But the highlights were the practical training exercises: tackling editorial problems for ourselves and offering ideas for stories and angles and contributors. This experience will be brilliant when I start work experience at both Heart FM and Sky in July!

We were given the challenge of gathering information and putting it into a clear, accurate, rigorous, compliant and engaging news story. We also discussed how we would go about finding good interviewees and conducted interviews ourselves. It was great to get feedback on our interview technique, our writing and also a paper we had edited (for this we chose a lead story out of six and decided which others would make front page, inside or be dropped entirely).

Although I do like the idea of writing for a newspaper/online, I’m still more intrigued by broadcast journalism as I’d like the challenge of presenting the story live on air. Regardless of media platform, I began to learn a lot of transferrable skills during the day at the Argus. Here are my take home points:

The Five News Values:

1. Proximity

2. Time

3. Relevance

4. Human interest

5. Conflict & Controversy

Writing the top line: 

1. Short sentence (25 words maximum)

2. Simple

3. Accurate (be scrupulous about facts)

4. Impartial

5. Watch adjectives!

6. Include WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW.

Structure:

An inverted pyramid. It begins with all the most important information so the background detail at the bottom can be cut away by the editor if needed.

1. Top line

2. Fact

3. Quote (for human interest)

4. Fact

5. Quote

6. Background

Think about how to make the story interactive and allowing readers/audiences to respond. Provoke a reaction. Always consider the readership and the affect each story will have on the community.

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