Sourcing, framing, reaching out

This week, we’ll keep talking about sourcing and the things we as journalists can do to deepen our understanding of an issue. I think building connections to people is the key to producing journalism that is authentic and feels valid to those who are living with a particular issue, or who have had a specific kind of experience. We miss the mark too often and get things wrong because we think we know:

  • what the story is before we’ve even begun reporting
  • who has the most important perspective on it (before our feet ever hit the ground)
  • what’s not important, before we’ve put in the time and done the research.

Making these mistakes can lead to choosing the wrong frame for a story. It’s a tough thing to learn, but we’ve all at some point made a facile framing decision. (What’s framing? It’s “the process by which people develop a particular conceptualization of an issue or reorient their thinking about an issue.”)   It’s like being a little lazy as a writer and choosing a cliche instead of an authentic and original phrasing.

Except it’s much more complex.

It’s important to understand and recognize framing and how it’s influenced by the people we choose to include. Read these two, very different stories about fracking — the first from Texas Monthly, and the other from Inside Climate News, and notice the sourcing and how it determines the frame.

Also notice how you’re affected by the two stories. Blog about it. We’ll talk about it on Tuesday.

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