How to become a 21st century journalist

NEO 2 modified

“Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.” Cyril Connolly

BBC correspondent Alistair Cook was an early pioneer of the podcast, of sorts . Over four decades, using more than 1,000 words, he sent a weekly Letter from America, many of them vivid recounts of key twentieth century events.

News point and news hook – two elements of the nut graph are drilled into every journalist at major media organisations. Story structure is built using words. It’s the inverted pyramid: the essential who, what, when, where is build into the first lines and the why, if it is used, comes in succeeding paragraphs.

The Internet is supposedly changing this. We need a multimedia approach to storytelling, journalists are told.

Simple structure, clear storytelling: you have to think visual.

The Associated Press is experimenting with story forms on their new site: Asia based technology journalists informally aired these and other topics during a three-day conference on the Indonesian island Bintan at the end of July. Whatever the issues, this was a gathering of journalists, working and playing hard.

Attenders included leading Malaysian socio-political bloggers Jeff Ooi and Ahirudin ‘Rocky’ Attan, both men of erudition and charm.

Writing is one of the toughest jobs around. To write well is almost as tough as being good. I struggle with both every day. You have to be awake and focused on both structural overview as well as the tiniest detail you are trying to tell.


29 July 2007.