IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME?
Have a story or news item?
If you are experienced in composing news related reports you can skip this page.
Remember the 1st rule of journalism - an open mind
Some essentials for submitting news items to this website
- Get into the habit right from the start of not allowing yourself to assume that readers do or should know the gist of your story. Assume the reader knows nothing. It is up to you to present your story clearly.
That might sound obvious, but you will be surprised how many ignore this simple rule - including professional public relations firms and agents.
It doesnt mean that you have to explain every single aspect in complete and long winded detail.
Remember the 5-Ws of journalism: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Check your story and ask yourself, does it cover those vital factors?
If you think it does, now read through your story as though YOU know nothing at all about it. Does it clearly explain itself to you?
Always work from the perspective that the reader knows nothing, even if you think they do, or should. It isn't enough just to say that a burglar broke into Joe Scratt's chip shop without mentioning somewhere where Joe Scratt's chip shop is, when it happened, what and who was involved and, as is applicable, why.
If you are submitting material by direct input, it is up to you to make sure that your material meets all requirements, or it may be deleted and you will receive notice as to why.
Check all given names for correct spelling. Add a note at the end of your submission indicating that you have done so: editors will thank you for it.
Don't be embarrassed at adding a note to indicate that you may be uncertain of any particular factual, or other specific content, of your submission.
- Strive to be honest. Do not try to hoodwink your reader, it will only backfire.
- Always ensure that your material has valid contact details that can find you in a hurry if necesssary. If you cannot be reached by an editor who wishes to discuss something you have sent, the chances are that it may end up being spiked.
- Keep your material brief but precise and concise. If you mention other parties in your submission that are important to the content, always try to include contact details for them if you have them. Likewise if you draw on external reference sources, name them.
- I always personally held to the belief that good journalism should inform, educate, and entertain.
NUJ Code of Conduct
The NUJ's Code of Conduct has influenced the main principles of British and Irish journalism since 1936. It is part of the rules and all journalists joining the union must sign that they will strive to adhere to it.
1. A journalist has a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards.
2. A journalist shall at all times defend the principle of the freedom of the press and other media in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism. He/she shall strive to eliminate distortion, news suppression and censorship.
3. A journalist shall strive to ensure that the information he/she disseminates is fair and accurate, avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as established fact and falsification by distortion, selection or misrepresentation.
4. A journalist shall rectify promptly any harmful inaccuracies, ensure that correction and apologies receive due prominence and afford the right of reply to persons criticised when the issue is of sufficient importance.
5. A journalist shall obtain information, photographs and illustrations only by straightforward means. The use of other means can be justified only by overriding considerations of the public interest. The journalist is entitled to exercise a personal conscientious objection to the use of such means.
6. A journalist shall do nothing which entails intrusion into anybody's private life, grief or distress, subject to justification by overriding considerations of the public interest.
7. A journalist shall protect confidential sources of information.
8. A journalist shall not accept bribes nor shall he/she allow other inducements to influence the performance of his/her professional duties.
9. A journalist shall not lend himself/herself to the distortion or suppression of the truth because of advertising or other considerations.
10. A journalist shall mention a person's age, sex, race, colour, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation only if this information is strictly relevant. A journalist shall neither originate nor process material which encourages discrimination, ridicule, prejudice or hatred on any of the above-mentioned grounds.
11. No journalist shall knowingly cause or allow the publication or broadcast of a photograph that has been manipulated unless that photograph is clearly labelled as such. Manipulation does not include normal dodging, burning, colour balancing, spotting, contrast adjustment, cropping and obvious masking for legal or safety reasons.
12. A journalist shall not take private advantage of information gained in the course of his/her duties before the information is public knowledge.
13. A journalist shall not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of his/her own work or of the medium by which he/she is employed.
Problems over media coverage often hinge on the "public interest". The Code of Conduct uses the concept as a yardstick to justify publication of sensitive material. Below is the NUJ's definition, drawn up by the Ethics Council.
1. The public interest includes:
a) Detecting or exposing crime or a serious misdemeanour
b) Protecting public health and safety
c) Preventing the public from being misled by some statement or action of an individual or organisation
d) Exposing misuse of public funds or other forms of corruption by public bodies
e) Revealing potential conflicts of interest by those in positions of power and influence
f) Exposing corporate greed
g) Exposing hypocritical behaviour by those holding high office
2. There is a public interest in the freedom of expression itself.
3. In cases involving children, journalists must demonstrate an exceptional public interest to over-ride the normally paramount interests of the child.
If you have read this far, you mike like to read the submissions info page which will open in a new browser window. The info page will also tell you how to send your items.
Alternatively you can try your hand with the direct copy input system if you consider your material as written well enough. If it shines, you may earn yourself your own unique page on this website.
If you hold to the above basic guidelines you will have composed your submission effectively. However, always strive to improve how you present your work and do not hesitate to contact the editor of this web site if you seek help.
K. Harris ed
(former NUJ FoC)
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