It’s a little profound to think that there would be journalists today who are strong Christians, respected and successful in their field. Emily Brown is one such journalist, and her example gives hope to many aspiring journalism students at Liberty University.
Though her talk held many insightful points there were a few specific pieces of advice, which stood out to me among the rest.
In her discussion with us Brown hammered home the point that journalism is about listening just as much as it is about reporting. Stories don’t appear out of thin air, and a journalist must first listen to find what they will write about.
Direct communication with a source is how many students, myself included, imagine finding a story. There are challenges to dealing with sources though. Brown emphasized that a give and take relationship will lead to sources, which trust you and in turn are more forthcoming with information.
Another part of dealing with sources, which I found particularly interesting was when she told us to ask dumb questions. Though as reporters we should strive to be knowledgeable on the matter we are interviewing the source for, we also must make sure that we don’t give the impression of knowing more than our source.
Another part of having a reliable, trustworthy source is knowing your source not just the information your reviewing them about. When you know your source, they feel more comfortable with you and the interview will flow more smoothly. Additionally, it can help them feel more comfortable trusting you with sensitive information.
Specifically looking at community reporting Brown explained the importance of balancing big national and international stories with local stories. While big stories often pull more readers it’s important to remember that as a community reporter your job is to report on information, which is relevant to the locality.
Local journalists have a job that is equally if not more difficult than major news reporters. A local reporter can instantly ostracize a member of the community by the stories they make because the readers of local news often don’t have the same skepticism that people have with big newspapers.
Stories can be seen from many points of view. Though we often assume there two sides to every story, there are usually many more. Making a great piece means writing from a point of view, which people don’t immediately see or expect.