50 tips for budding Bremertonians

Note: This wassupposed to go on this blog, but I originally put it on the Kitsap Caucus blog by mistake. — Steven Gardner, Peninsular Thinking blog team member especially in charge of defending Bremerton.

David Brewer, a journalist of some sort, wrote a list of 50 tips for budding journalists, some of which I agree with. Actually, I agree with almost all of them. Here are the exceptions:

2. You are born with a news sense, you can’t be taught one.
“News” sense is as elusive to pin down as “common” sense. To suggest that one could not learn over time what a good portion of readers would value as news is, I believe, hooey.

31. Keep copies of all emails, texts, dates of phone calls and be sure never to throw a notebook away
Mostly I take issue with the last point. In fact we are now advised by lawyers to throw our notebooks away when we’re done with them. The fear is getting a subpoena for your notes.

50. Always get your round in (buy a drink at the bar).

I don’t necessarily disagree with this. I’ve just never done it. Not drinking means I’m not there when the rounds are purchased or accepted.

Anyway, I bring all this up because I thought it might be worth appropriating the list for Bremerton. Take one of the tips and apply it to someone wanting to be a Bremertonian.

Example:
For journalists — 1. It’s a vocation, not a job.
For Bremertonians — 1. Bremerton is a journey, not a place. It’s also not a theme park like Poulsbo or an outlet mall like Silverdale. And even though Bremerton is a journey, it is also a destination, because when you’re there, you’re there, man.

For journalists — 12. Always check the fourth paragraph in a glowing industry news release; there may be job losses or other bad news which may be of more interest to your audience
For Bremertonians — 12. Always ask for references from that kid from Port Orchard selling you cookies. Ask for his or her parents’ references, too. There could be a drug conviction or restraining order on the guy waiting in the car.

You see where I’m going? That’s right. Bremerton. Following is the list of 50 tips for budding journalists. Take your time and come up with some parallel advice for budding Bremertonians. Maybe I’ll add more as we go. If you guys don’t come up with any, I might have to create a whole new category and make this a regular feature.

50 tips for budding journalists

1. It’s a vocation, not a job
2. You are born with a news sense, you can’t be taught one
3. Your duty is to scrutinise the executive and shine a light in dark places
4. All journalism should be investigative (digging where others don’t) or witness (that which you see and hear that others may miss)
5. You are on duty 24 x 7 (you don’t stop when your shift ends)
6. Don’t expect to be given stories; your job is to find them (following up a news release of attending a staged event is part of the process, but real journalism is finding original content)
7. Your job is to ask questions, research information and uncover facts and then deliver those facts to the audience in the most effective way (you work on behalf of your audience and have the responsibility to knock on the doors of the powerful and influential on behalf of your audience)
8. Live your life by the rule that ‘had it not been for you the world would never have known’ (If you only report on information that is already being recyled by others you will only be doing half the job)
9. Always be working on your own investigation and come up with something original (have a list of story ideas that you are working on)
10. Don’t live a wires-led life (trying living a week producing content without looking at the news wires and news releases)
11. Don’t follow the competition, aim to be ahead by finding your own stories and angles
12. Always check the fourth paragraph in a glowing industry news release; there may be job losses or other bad news which may be of more interest to your audience
13. Broadcast and publish for your audience, not for your own glory or peer group approval
14. Treasure, nurture and feed contacts, don’t just drain them and dump them
15. Apply the same journalistic rigour to those with whom you agree
16. Don’t have favourites
17. Don’t do deals
18. Don’t accept gifts, the bill will usually end up on your doorstep one day
19. Don’t make exceptions
20. Respect privacy
21. Take notes and keep them safe
22. Look behind you when you are retracing steps
23. Know your facts
24. Know your limitations
25. Check and check again
26. Be careful about thinking you have written what you think you have written
27. Always get a second pair of eyes to check your copy, even if that person is not a journalist
28. Resist the pressure to work up a ‘good intro’ and sensationalise a headline; if the story is lame work on something else
29. Leave a note when going undercover, just in case
30. Keep a diary of stories covered and follow them up in three months; if a story is worth doing it’s probably worth following up
31. Keep copies of all emails, texts, dates of phone calls and be sure never to throw a notebook away
32. Trust your instincts when researching but stick to facts when broadcasting or publishing
33. Check the side streets when there is a fire on main street
34. Realise that a politician will always have a script
35. Watch out for those who would like to see you compromised
36. Deal with your own motives, likes, dislikes, feelings, beliefs, they must have no impact in your delivery of balanced, impartial and objective journalism
37. Don’t put interviewees in danger
38. Respect intellectual property, from a comment to user-generated content and always acknowledge
39. Never use ‘will have to wait and see’ or ‘time will tell’, if you don’t know how a story will end, don’t go there
40. Never say ‘the victim has not been named’, they have, soon after birth, what you mean is ‘police have not released the name of the victim’
41. More than = quantity, over = height
42. Don’t use long words when short words will do
43. Avoid sub clauses that may complicate and obscure the information you are attempting to relay
44. Convey a sense of urgency only when it is appropriate but remain honest and do not inflate the importance if it doesn’t merit it (*)
45. Never sweeten with respect if none is due (*)
46. People are never evacuate, buildings and bowels are
47. Be sensitive when knocking on the door of the bereaved; some will want to invite you in for a cup of tea, show you precious family photos and may let you take one away with you, others will set the dogs on you
48. Rumours are useful for heads up on a potential story, but they are not news until they are verified
49. Be thorough and ensure your work is spot on, but don’t take too long polishing, there are people out there who need to know about the facts you’ve uncovered
50. Always get your round in (buy a drink at the bar).

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