Accuracy rules!

 

Accuracy is a key component of every single aspect of your life as a citizen journalist or media spokesperson.

It is the foundation stone of your work – and your reputation.

For citizen journalists, it is relevant to the presentation of your stories and their content and your relationships (to readers, interviewees and professional contacts).

For media spokespeople, it is relevant to the credibility of your message.

Spelling and grammar

There is no room for lazy or inaccurate spelling and grammar in a media release or citizen journalism piece.

If you’re not great at spelling and grammar – get someone to proof your work.

Pay attention to those red and green lines that appear on your computer screen. They are telling you something – even though they’re not always right and they can easily miss glaring errors.

If you want Australian media attention, work with Australian spelling.

Check check check – and if you’re not sure, Google. There is an answer to everything grammar and spelling at your fingertips.

Names – people

It’s amazing how many ways there are to spell the name ‘John’.

Never ever ever make assumptions about how people spell their names.

Ask.

Because if you can’t spell their name correctly, have no doubt they (and their friends/colleagues) will question the accuracy of everything else you write.

For citizen journalists, here’s an easy technique for asking an obvious question: right at the start of your interview, say your interviewee’s name out loud – spell it out as you write it down.

“That’s John – J-O-H-N? J-O-N? Smith – S-M-I-T-H?”

They will immediately spell out their name for you.

Names – things

In any news story, if you are reporting the name of an organisation or event or report or anything at all that has a name – you must write the name in full and get it right.

In the case of long names for organisations or reports, people rarely say them correctly.

Gonski is a case in point. We know ‘Gonski’ is a comprehensive report into education in Australia.

What we may not know is that it is actually the ‘Review of Funding for Schooling’.

The correct way to report something like this would be: ‘…. the Review of Funding for Schooling, known as ‘the Gonski Report’, …..’ And thereafter you may refer to the report as ‘the Gonski Report’.

In the CSG campaign, for example, there are a range of stakeholder organisations, all of whom will have short or colloquial versions of their names.

When you first reference them in your story, use their full/official name – after that you may shorten it.

This information is as true for citizen journalists as it is for writing media releases.

Information

Check check check every single fact or claim you or anyone you interview makes in your story.

All facts or opinions must be attributed to someone or something.

All facts or opinions must be expressed with respect – even if the person you are interviewing is angry.

It’s okay to be angry – it’s not okay to abuse others.

Is it true? Is it fair?

This information is as true for citizen journalists as it is for writing media releases.