How to Be Well Informed About Current Affairs

Staying current with news and events is a never-ending endeavor. There are always breaking stories and developing events in politics, sports and entertainment that would take monitoring news sites constantly to capture it all. Being well-informed takes periodic monitoring of headlines and a willingness to research on your own when you encounter a story about which you know little.

Choose a new organization to follow daily. Pick a newspaper or online news source to skim every day to maintain your awareness of daily headlines.

Change your PC home page to a news site. Choose “Tools” at the top menu of your Internet Explorer page. Choose “Internet Options” and then “General.” Type in the web address of the site you have chosen to make your home page and choose “OK.”

Scan the headlines of the home page twice daily; first, to see the breaking news and biggest stories of the news cycle, and a second time to see how the story has progressed throughout the day.

Subscribe to a news aggregator online. A news aggregator collects news stories from multiple sites and outlets and compiles the headlines and stories into one list. Find an application for your smartphone or tablet to stay current on the go.

Click on links within the story to learn more about the facets of the story you are reading. News websites will often link to related stories or information helpful in understanding the story you are reading.

Peruse social media for mentions of events by your “friends” and other users. Comment to follow the discussion or check back to read the conversation regarding the post.

Discuss the news of the day with colleagues and friends to allow yourself access to a different point of view or ingredients of the story you may not have gathered.

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How to Analyze a News Article

Analyzing a news article properly is a skill that can be acquired. Newswriters are taught to be objective, but their personal opinions and biases sometimes may affect their articles.These might influence a reader’s attitude and behavior. The prudent reader will learn how to uncover the journalistic techniques and will be able to read the material objectively. This is important for correctly and adequately analyzing a news article.

Structure of News Articles

Check the credentials or background of the journalist who wrote the article you are going to read if possible. Ask yourself the following questions: Is the author a famous person? Is he/she known for biases? Does he belong to a particular political party or organization? Is the person writing a personal opinion that is only acceptable in an editorial or op-ed column, or is this a factual account of the news?

Study the structure of the inverted pyramid that many journalists use. Look at the headline. Does it give you an idea of what the article should be about? Read the first paragraph, known as the lead. Look for the main point of the story and/or a summary of the major ideas. See if the lead gets you interested in reading the article. Look for the lesser important materials that generally follow.

Look for the 5 W’s. These answer Who? What? Where? When? and Why? Jot these down in your notebook to help you get the main point of the article. Refer to this list as you read the remainder of the article. Emphasize the “Who”. Who is the focus of the story ? Think about the “What.” What happened to the person to make the story newsworthy?

Check for fact and opinion. A news article should be factual with statistics, proven studies and authorities backing up a claim. An opinion article, one based on emotion or personal experience, does not belong in a news article. Learn to distinguish between the two.

Look for conflicts or issues being discussed. Ask yourself if the writer is educating you with the facts or if he is trying to get you to think a certain way or follow a given action. Look at both sides of the argument. Consider the solutions proposed if he gives any. Was there enough information to support the ideas?

Study the graphs or pictures if there are any. Ask yourself if they are clear. Do they adequately and fairly represent the news they are supposed to be illustrating? Make sure the pictures are not cropped to eliminate some unfavorable material.

Make a list of unfamiliar words in your notebook. Look them up in the dictionary. Reread the sentences that contain them to reinforce the definitions.

Look at another newspaper with the same news article. Check to see if there are similarities in their treatment. Analyze the differences before accepting either one as correct.

How to Break Bad News

How to Break Bad News. Breaking bad news to someone is difficult. Having to tell him bad news that is totally unexpected makes the situation even more difficult. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the situation, you should try to make the person you are breaking the bad news to as comfortable as possible.

Think about what you will say before you start the conversation. You should think about the exact wording. Make sure that you speak in terms that the person will understand. Remember that if the person is upset, more complex terms will be too difficult to properly comprehend.

Keep in mind that the person you are talking to will likely focus on the first few words. When a person gets bad or upsetting news, he will usually place emphasis on the first few words. Try to get the main point across in the first few words.

Make her as comfortable as possible. Respect her privacy and dignity. Try to find a place that is isolated. Ensure that there are facial tissues handy. This is especially important if the bad news is likely to cause her to cry.

Tell the whole truth. Leaving out minor facts may seem easy. It is very important that you include every bit of information about the situation. It may seem like information overload but, you can always go over the information with him again.

Answer any questions. There may be some questions that she has that you are unable or unprepared to answer. If this happens, be honest. Let her know that you will do what you can to help her find the answers.

Listen sympathetically. It is possible that he will become upset. Sometimes, when a person is upset, he will talk incoherently. Just let him talk and keep a sympathetic expression on your face. Make sure that your attitude and demeanor are sympathetic.

Offer your support. Let her know that you will be there to help her if she needs anything. You should offer specific support when possible. This means that you can offer to pick the kids up from school and take them to get an after school snack so she can have time to regain her composure before she has to deal with the kids.

How to Write a New Business News Story

New business stories are essential for all communities, especially small ones. Chronicling the economic ups and downs of a city or town is essential for journalists, and profiling businesses as they emerge helps give a boost to the businesses as well as the public.

Interview your subject or subjects. Go to the new business and get a tour from the owner. Take notes of any interesting artwork or equipment as you walk through. Ask the owner any questions that come to mind but also have some prepared. Remember to get the basics like name spellings, hours of operation and contact information. Probe the person for unique anecdotes or facts about why she decided to open the business.

Gather your information. It is always a good idea to come back to your computer with more information than you need to write the story. If the business offers a product or service that may not be well known, research the topic on the web to get an idea. Aside from interviewing the owner of the business, talk to any customers who have patronized the business in its opening days. What did they like about it? Why do they think the business is important for the community? Do they think the products are reasonably priced?

Write your story. New business stories can be written in a straight news style or, if appropriate, in more of a feature-story tone. Decide which approach will work best for this business. Is it something that runs in a family? Did the owner always want to open a business or was it a fluke? Include eccentric and interesting details about the owner and the business.

Take a break. Once you have a draft. Step away from your story, close the document and do something else for at least a few minutes. This allows you to detach from the story so you can edit it clearly later.

Edit your story. First, go through and look for areas where more information is needed. Find sentences that lack clarity and change them. Find unnecessary phrases and repetitive facts and delete them. Edit for grammar and AP Style (the style that most newspapers use as their standard).

How to Ask Questions in a News Conference

An invitation to a news conference calls for more than showing up and allowing the presentation to spark your curiosity for information. Arrive prepared, which means researching the subject, organization and events leading to why the news conference was called. Based on your findings, make a list of questions you want answered, then ask them according to the rules of etiquette practiced in journalism.

Know the Issues

Background information lets you get the most out of your news conference time, put what the presenter says into context and avoid handing your competition a scoop. Your pre-conference homework should include becoming familiar with the players involved, anticipate what will be covered and why it may be important. Consult colleagues and outside contacts who may shed some light on the organization or individual holding the news conference. Combing newsroom files and photos also can provide useful facts for framing questions from the perspective of your readers, viewers or listeners. Limit online research for economic, social and political issues to sites published by reliable sources such as professional associations and governmental agencies.

Compile a Question List

Having a list of prepared questions ensures that you raise aspects of the topic to be covered that you deem to be important and that the presenter may overlook. Consider including questions related to the reason for the news conference. For example, an announcement about a merger of two pharmaceutical firms can call for questions about federal investigations regarding clinical trials. The News Manual advises agreeing to submit your questions in advance only when the organizer wants to provide as much accurate information as possible rather than manage its public relations.

Open-Ended Questions

How you phrase your questions makes a difference in how much information you gain from asking them. The Poynter Institute advises asking open-ended questions that begin with why, how or what generate the most useful responses because they encourage explanations, descriptions and clarification rather than a yes or no. Open-ended questions also let you detect the speaker’s thought process. Examples of open-ended questions for a news conference about a charity‚Äôs new endeavor include “How might this project affect your other programs?” “What resources do you think this project might bring to the community?” and “Why has the nonprofit sector ignored this issue in the past?”

Follow Journalistic Etiquette

Listen to questions your colleagues pose and jot down the answers they get to avoid repetition. When the floor opens for questions, raise your hand to indicate you have something to ask. After being acknowledged, stand, thank the speaker, then state your name and the organization you represent. Speak loudly enough for everyone in the room and for any broadcast microphones to pick up what you ask, then sit to take notes. Keep your question short and on topic. Ask a follow-up question if necessary to get the information you need.