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Tenacity image by Rodger Evans

In the third of a series of post on seven habits often associated with good journalism I look at how persistence and tenacity can be taught in journalism training — and why it should be.

One of the earliest skills that broadcast journalists learn is how to conduct a vox pop. The vox pop is an attempt to ‘take the pulse’ of the public on a topical issue: the journalist will stand in a busy public place and ask passers-by to share their thoughts on the issue of the day.

The results will typically be used as part of a…


In a previous post I outlined seven habits often associated with good journalism that are often talked about (wrongly) as ‘innate’ or ‘unteachable’. In this second post I look at scepticism: why it’s so important in journalism, and how it can be taught.

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Image: libquotes

On its own the first habit of a successful journalist — curiosity — can only take us so far as a journalist: as we ask questions of our sources, we cannot merely report what people tell us — especially if two different sources say contrasting things.

Scepticism is important in journalism because it moves us from merely…


This post was first published on the Online Journalism Blog.

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Are good reporters born — or made? Can you teach the curiosity that all good journalists possess? The persistence of the best reporting? The creativity of the most compelling stories? Every so often I hear a journalist say that you can’t — that those quaities are ‘innate’ or “can’t be taught”…

This line of thought — a line which lacks the very curiosity and persistence that journalists are expected to aspire to — bothers me.

And it’s bothered me for some time.

Over the last year I’ve been thinking about…


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S-Town isn’t just a podcast: it’s a website and social media accounts too

S-Town is a podcast from the makers of This American Life. It’s a great piece of storytelling — so it’s a perfect subject for applying some narrative concepts in order to understand how those can help professional storytellers and media workers to engage their audiences.

Mode, audience and genre

Let’s start with the basics. S-Town is multimodal: although it’s a podcast (audio), there’s also a website with both visual and textual components including transcripts (text), an About page (text) and a Music section (text with embedded music player). And there are social media accounts too, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. …


This post was first published in the Online Journalism Blog.

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Death by Zoom: are we mistakenly trying to recreate the classroom instead of making something web-native?

A few weeks ago I was invited to talk at an online mini-fest about a ‘big idea’ for the future of online learning. I decided to talk about what I called ergodic education — how concepts from interactivity can be used to inform teaching as learners move online. In this post I talk about some of those concepts and how they can be adopted to a lockdown-era classroom.

Why ergodic education? The shovelware problem

Back in 2011 in the first edition of the Online Journalism Handbook, I created a simple diagram: the journalist, reader, and another


My resume is just a list of things I really never want to do again
My resume is just a list of things I really never want to do again

It’s that time of year when new journalism graduates start to apply for jobs. Having seen a lot of these over the years, I thought I’d put together a list of the mistakes I see most often — and what to do about them.

1. Talking about the activities that you‘ve done rather than the skills that you built

You might have work experience in the media with obvious relevance to the job you’re applying for, but what about other experience?

Remember that bar work, volunteering, manual labour, etc. will all have helped you develop skills that are useful as a journalist.

So when listing your employment history, don’t focus on what you did (“Working…


tl;dr: saving lives is more important than being positive

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“We want more fish and chips” — image by Dave Leeming

If you’re in a WhatsApp group or following social media right now, chances are that you’ve seen someone complaining about journalists “missing the mood” in the country.

As someone who teaches journalism students and trains journalists I thought I’d break down one typical message*—forwarded to a WhatsApp group I’m in — and address each issue.

“We do not want or need blame. We do not want constant criticism of our Government who are doing their very best in a very difficult and unprecedented global emergency.”

Have you ever had a boss who tried hard— but still made mistakes?

Did someone tell them that they’d made a mistake?

Did the boss have to explain to others why he or she made those…


This post was first published on the Online Journalism Blog — read the original for updates.

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A couple weeks ago I published a guide to cognitive biases for journalists. I saved perhaps the biggest one of all — confirmation bias — for a post all of its own. It might be one of the best-known biases, but for that very reason it can be easy to underestimate. Here, then, is what you need to know — and what to do to reduce it.

What is confirmation bias — and how does it affect journalism?

Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out — or more easily believe or recall — information…


This post was first published on the Online Journalism Blog. Please read it there if you can!

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Image from Design Hacks

For the last few years I’ve been teaching my journalism students a dedicated class on cognitive bias — common ways of thinking that lead journalists (and audiences and sources) to make avoidable mistakes.

Journalism is particularly vulnerable to cognitive bias: we regularly make decisions at speed; we have to deal with too much information — or extract meaning where there isn’t enough of it. …


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This was first published on the Online Journalism Blog. Read it there if you prefer to avoid the Medium ‘free articles’ nonsense.

Data-driven reporting regularly involves some form of data entry — some of the stories I’ve been involved with, for example, have included entering information from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, compiling data from documents such as companies’ accounts, or working with partners to collect information from a range of sources.

But you’ll rarely hear the challenges of managing these projects discussed in resources on data journalism.

Last week I delivered a session on exactly those challenges to a…

Paul Bradshaw

Write the @ojblog. I run the MA in Data Journalism and the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism @bcujournalism and wrote @ojhandbook #scrapingforjournos

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