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What makes news?

News is simply a current event that someone else would want to know about. But what are the secrets which make a story into something people hanker after?

1. It's very current, happening today. Using the templates in this book, you can actually get your report distributed ahead of the BBC.

2. Remember the old adage: “MAN BITES DOG” is a story. “DOG BITES MAN” isn't. Always look for the quirky, the unusual, the sensational, the counter-intuitive, the plain weird. Try looking at a story from upside down. How would you tell a familiar story differently from everyone else?

How to tell a story

1. Your story should always contain the “5 Ws” – Who, What, Where, hoW, Why.

(You don't need the “when”, as your video will be date-stamped. So we've replaced it with the very useful “How”)


2. Follow the “law of 3s” – 3 sentences if you're reporting, 3 questions if you're interviewing.

Two sentences don't give enough information, four are too many to remember!

So make sure you get your 5 Ws into your 3 sentences, or in the piece-to-camera and questions of your interview.

[2 examples – for template 1 and template 1.5]

Alwas try to tell your story for the widest possible number of viewers. How can you make it understood for someone who wasn't there, for someone in another city or country? How might it be relevant to their lives? The philosophy of contemporary media is: “From the hyper-local to the global”. Write it for every next-door neighbour in the world.

The Citizen Reporter templates

We strongly recommend that when you start doing citizen reporting, you follow these templates carefully. Finding your own voice and method comes later. Let's make sure we get something decent out the very first time we do it.

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