Twitter and the discerning citizen journalist

No Fibs relies on social media to broadcast our news. In particular, we are a Twitter experiment. The wonder of social media is that it enables us to disseminate news quickly – very quickly. Its inherent danger is that is also encourages citizen journalists to spread false information quickly – very quickly. As a citizen journalist your credibility is 100% dependent on your accuracy. Your readers must be able to trust your work and the authenticity of your sources. So how do you check the accuracy of information you find on Twitter? The link above leads to an excellent interview with University of British Columbia educator Alfred Hermida on ABC Radio National’s Media […]

How to write a news story

The art of reporting is the art of simplicity. And as with the art of anything at all – it looks soooooo easy. Which is what makes it an art. Writing a news story is like writing a country music song – it’s deceptively complex. And a fantastic skill to master if you’re willing to apply yourself to the task. What is news? News stories tell us something we didn’t know – that’s what news is: new. So a news story isn’t necessarily long. It might only be a few pars (paragraphs). Or it might be much longer. The 5 Ws Regardless of how long your story is, it must […]

No Fibs style

Every organisation has its presentation style and No Fibs is no exception. No Fibs uses standard news style and we ask all our CJs to pay attention to the basics. The reasons for this are twofold: 1. our readers – consistency ensures readers are free to read our stories and reports without having to concentrate on our presentation (there’s nothing more annoying when you’re reading than stumbling over confusing punctuation or grammar – it interrupts the flow and raises questions about the accuracy of our content); 2. our reputation – consistency ensures our reputation for accuracy is maintained (if we can’t be trusted to get the spelling right, how can […]

Assumptions are death

Assumptions – we all make them all the time. As a citizen journalist, however, your assumptions can destroy reputations – your own, your interviewees’, No Fibs’. Journalists – MSM (mainstream media) and CJ (citizen) – train themselves to question assumptions. It’s a trait that makes us very boring at parties. “Really? Is that true? Where did you get your information?” No Fibs’ CJs must first learn to recognition assumptions – our conversations are loaded with them. And then learn to question them. And then learn that even if your interviewee crosses their heart and hopes to die that their information is ‘true’ – if you can’t verify it, it remains […]

Accuracy rules!

Accuracy is a key component of every single aspect of your life as a citizen journalist. It is the foundation stone of your work – and your reputation. It is relevant to the presentation of your stories and their content and your relationships (to readers, interviewees and professional contacts). Spelling and grammar There is no room for lazy or inaccurate spelling and grammar on No Fibs. If you’re not great at spelling and grammar – that’s okay, we’re here to help – our contributors’ guide contains a detailed style guide showing how to include relevant information, particularly on politics. However we do require you to be willing to pay attention […]

Fact or opinion?

Yes, there is a difference between fact and opinion – and a credible CJ must be able to identify that difference. Facts are claims that you can verify by asking yourself a simple question: ‘says who?’ Opinions are thoughts that you or the person you are interviewing express about an issue, event or topic of interest. Facts Facts are claims that can be verified. All facts must be attributed – to someone or something (such as a report). If you haven’t read the report that is being quoted yourself, then claims made about the report must be attributed to someone – a person. If your interviewee expresses ‘facts’ – you […]

Mindful ethics for election bloggers and citizen journalists

By Mark Pearson, Professor of Journalism and Social Media, Griffith University, Australia 10 August 2013 Bloggers and citizen journalists come from an array of backgrounds and thus bring varied cultural and ethical values to their blogging. No Fibs asks its citizen journalists to follow the MEAA Code of Ethics, and the journalists’ union has recently made a concerted effort to bring serious bloggers into its fold through its FreelancePro initiative. This would have bloggers committing to a ‘respect for truth and the public’s right to information’ and the core principles of honesty, fairness, independence, and respect for the rights of others. Specifically, they would subscribe to the 12 key principles […]

The basics on blogging and tweeting without getting sued

Margo: This is the third post in our series exploring the meaning of journalism. Professor Mark Pearson, an expert in media law, outlines the basic legal issues journos must keep in mind. by Mark Pearson May 29, 2013 Countless laws might apply to the serious blogger and citizen journalist because Web 2.0 communications transcend borders into places where expression is far from free.   Even in Australia there are nine jurisdictions with a complex array of laws affecting writers and online publishers, including defamation, contempt, confidentiality, discrimination, privacy, intellectual property and national security. If you plan on taking the ‘publish and be damned’ approach coined by the Duke of Wellington in […]

The art of journalism: satisfying beginners and expert readers

By Sally Baxter May 19, 2013 What makes a journalist? A lot of people – inside and outside the profession – are asking that question. If you think it takes a genius, think again. Good journalists have a representative of their audience in mind who informs every step of their work. My background’s print, so it’s natural for me to refer to a reader. Who’s your reader, a genius or an idiot? My first Editor was also my dad which means I spent a good deal of my career wondering if I was a journalist at all. I certainly didn’t feel I really was until I was a newspaper reporter, but that […]