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Journalistic Resources

Welcome to the Dateline team. We are happy you chose to become a contributor. Not only do we want to ensure you enjoy the experience of contributing to our newspaper, we also want to make sure you have the tools you need to be successful – tools you can use in the future, should you move on to even greater endeavors. This resource page contains the most important elements of journalism that The Dateline team feels you need to know to produce quality material while with us. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with these topics:​​

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  • Choose a specific angle and have substance.
  • ​Your content should be tightly written and lively, with no unnecessary words.
  • Opt​​ for short paragraphs of one to three sentences.
  • Use narrative elements that tell a story.
  • Material should be fresh and original, with no clichés or jargon.
  • Always begin with a “Wow” statement.
  • Your concluding sentence should tie the end to the beginning.
  • Think of an “inverted pyramid,” where the most important items in the story appear first.
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​Since the headlines and captions are the first thing the readers will see, they are extremely important in pulling your reader into your story.

Keep the following acronym in mind when considering your headline: TACT

Taste – make sure your headlines and captions are in good taste and not offensive

Attractiveness – does it attract the reader's attention?

Clarity – make the communication clear

Truth – ensure accuracy of your work​

Headlines

  • Your headline should summarize your article without going into extensive detail regarding the content.
  • Be sensitive to how others may interpret your headline, by being factual and unambiguous.
  • Keep the headline simple but catchy, so that it garners the reader’s attention.
  • Follow AP guidelines for headlines.

Captions

  • Captions should accurately summarize photos and capture their most important aspects.
  • Captions should be complimentary without being obvious, while also grabbing attention of the reader.
  • Captions should be followed by courtesy or credit.

Interviews allow you to get your information firsthand, from the source, ensuring accuracy of information and multiple points of view.

  • Be prepared with good questions. Show you’ve done your homework and are credible.
  • Display basic interview etiquette, such as contacting your subject, setting up a meeting and being prepared and on time.
  • Be flexible with your interviewee and respectful. Listen and inquire without being pushy.
  • Be thorough and get all the information you are needing, as this is your only opportunity.
  • Avoid a “Q&A” format when posting interview on newspaper. Keep interview in regular article format.
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Quotes are a necessary element of journalistic writing. They add life and character to your piece without compromising its accuracy.

  • Pick good quotes.
  • Don’t use quotes to convey simple facts, but rather choose the ones that add value to your piece.
  • Keep your quotes relevant.
  • Always attribute your quotes but avoid citations in AP style.
  • When quoting from other news sources, mention the source in your sentence.
  • Quotes from direct sources, such as a speaker, should be as accurate as possible.
  • Use [brackets] for anything you change, add, or need to clarify.
  • Each quote should be in its own paragraph (other than the introduction transition statement).
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  • Use simple, past tense, as often as possible (for example, “I wrote for Dateline.”)
  • ​Short, simple sentences with action words make the read engaging, exciting and impactful.
  • The preferred past tense infers something has already happened.
  • Points of view pronouns are either first (the writer), second (the reader), or third (the subject).
  • Use third person as often as possible.
  • Although there are grammar rules, also know when it’s appropriate to break them.
  • Avoid infinitives in journalistic writing (that is, verbs which are preceded by the word “to”).

When using graphic material, think of the acronym CRAP:

Contrast – easily readable and attention-grabbing
Repetition – organization, unity, and consistency
Alignment – clear, clean, and sophisticated visual flow
Proximity – keep images that are related to one another together

To ensure you maintain journalistic integrity, please familiarize yourself with the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics​.


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Last updated 7/16/2021 3:11 AM