Tuesday, we’ll talk about finding a focus and organizing a text story around that focus.
We’ve talked about writing leads and nut grafs, and those are definitely focusing activities. But we haven’t talked much about focusing before reporting, or re-focusing after reporting (and before writing).
Learning to do both of these things will save you tons of time and angst (and is the best protection against editor outbursts like, “That’s not the story we talked about!”).
I like the six focusing questions Tom Huang at Poynter has come up with to produce better stories. Please read his column, and then think about a story you’ve worked on recently (or that you’re working on now), and try to be conscious of how you focused the story.
- How much energy did you put into focusing before you reported?
- What role did your editor play in that process?
- How did your focus change after you reported?
Next, prepare to critique this piece that ran on the Missourian’s website this weekend. Does it have a focus? How does the story’s organization contribute to that focus?