“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” : Online Storytelling

Today’s journalists have a plethora of online tools and software to assist in the production and reporting of news stories. But Senior Producer and Journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s (ABC) Elaine Ford cautioned “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” and urged us as aspiring journalists to have a strong understanding of fundamental journalism basics and apply them when working in the online domain.

You don’t need to use every form

Using the simile of a jigsaw puzzle, Elaine said journalists should look to see what ‘pieces’ fit inside the jigsaw and analyse what is required to effectively tell the story. Do you really need a map, an infographic and a timeline to report a breaking news story?

Be realistic and consider your timeframe

The need for speed is constantly accelerating in today’s news environment, what resources or technologies might work the field for a story at that time?

“Go with what you have”: Be a story generator

Elaine noted establishing a “story goes hand-in-hand with different multimedia”. Whether it be with the humble pen and paper or an iPad, journalists must know how to angle and source a story using different mediums in different situations. Elaine draws on the example of a cyclone, a situation where there is potentially no power journalists may need to grab a pen and jot down the beginnings of a story.

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Don’t forget to verify your sources

Citizen journalists and social media provide news sources and information with the click of a button, it is still essential to apply your journalistic sense and find those accurate news sources.

Ensure your hyperlinks are relevant

The ABC’s Kellie Riordan also dropped by to sit in the QUTOJ1 hot seat, giving a very interesting insight into the evolution of journalism practice and ethics in the digital age. She mentioned the importance of hyperlinks and attribution at a point in her talk, which I think links (pun intended!) in well with this blog post about working in an online environment. Kellie noted hyperlinking within news stories attributes primary sources allowing for greater impartiality and context for readers … but it seems news organisations aren’t effectively hyperlinking with many linking to homepages rather than the source of information stated in the article, which doesn’t provide a sufficient weight of evidence.

ABC Journalist Kellie Riordan

ABC Journalist Kellie Riordan walked us through some intriguing ethical dilemmas journalists face in the digital age.

Uphold  journalism ethics

You have footage of a car accident that has just taken place on the M3 on your way home from work, do you send the footage to be published through a news agency? Kellie got us thinking about different situations triggering us to question if the footage is in the public interest or is it too graphic to project into the public sphere. Emphasizing every situation is different, Kellie encouraged us as the journalists of tomorrow to “stop and take stock” of how a story may function when published and question the pitfalls.