Tips Young Reporters Need to Know

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the chaos of recent events in Cairo, Egypt, journalists have had to think on their feet.

"In periods of intense breaking news, logistics can be as important as brains and courage," says native freelance journalist Dan Morrison. While observing young journalists Morrison was concerned at the number of young journalists who were caught off guard when things started to go wrong that effected their journalism.

In the article, "Reporting Lessons for the Next Revolution," Morrison offers three basic tips to young journalists.

The first tip Morrison talks about is "Don't count on local networks." This is particularly relevant now after what is happening in Egypt. Journalists who were relying on the local Internet or cell phone connects were out of luck when the government made the decision to shut down the Internet and cell phone service.

His tip to journalists is to invest in a BGAN terminal. This device is priced at around $1000 and works with prepaid cards as a satellite Internet connection. He also says that every journalist should at least have a pre-paid satphone in case cell phone service becomes unavailable.

The second piece of advice Morrison gives young journalists is to keep spares of everything. No journalist should rely on just one camera, memory card, contact list, voice recorder etc.

Third, Morrison says to "seed your sources," or keep solid connections with your sources. As a final piece of advice he says that it is a good idea to give a trusted source a copy of your client contacts.

Although many of these suggestions might not apply to journalists doing work close to home in a stable area, the general principles still apply.

Just like Morrison tells journalists not to rely on local networks, the same can be said about practicing journalism anywhere. This advice could also apply to the issue of journalists relying to heavily on technology to get the work done.

Also, no matter where you are it is always a good idea to keep spares. If the deadline to a story is coming up fast and the device is lost or not working, then you're out of luck.

Just like Morrison said, it comes down to journalists thinking as well as acting.

Photo credit: University of Connecticut via Creative Commons


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