A news story is not worth it if the attention of the reader is not captured immediately by the header and he or she does not stop reading till the last word has been devoured. However, it is easier said than done. A news story is not only about the writing skills of the contributor, without a meaningful and authentic exercise to project an incident in its proper light, the whole project becomes futile.
Here are some strategies for collecting news that have been tried and tested over time and proved successful.
Observe the events from close quarters
When as a news reporter you see events unfolding before your eyes, you get an instant feel of the incidents. The trick here is not to get so involved that your reporting becomes biased. Keep notebooks and tape recorders ready to record evidence so that nothing is missed out when you write the story later. Gather more information than is necessary since they can be discarded later when finalising the content. Report what you see in black and white and do not try to be dramatic or add a dash of colour to the situation. Your greatest tools in live scenarios are an open mind, eyes and ears.
Have incisive telephone conversations
The telephone is a crucial tool in your journalistic efforts as it saves you time in commuting. It also saves time of the interviewee who may be too busy to see you personally. Telephone conversations may be short simply to gather a piece of information or to conduct a full blown interview. Before you even dial the number, keep all your questions ready and be prepared with a notepad and pen. With modern technologies of course, the whole telephone conversation can be automatically recorded. If you have missed out on a name or place or some relevant point due to electronic line disturbances, do not hesitate to clarify the point.
Generally, about 90% of news gathering is based on interviews in some form or the other. This is because getting to the source of an incident means talking to people who either know about it from remote sources or directly in person. There are specific techniques of interviewing people. An experienced news reporter will be able to draw information from people and then analyse and evaluate it for honesty of opinion. You have to know how to treat people with tact and understanding so that they cultivate belief on you and open up. This will help you meet the purpose of the interview.
Follow these simple guidelines and you should be successful in news gathering to produce engaging content.