Avoid Intentional AND Inadvertent Plagiarism
Professional and amateur journalists alike are caught copying others' content on a regular basis. Because journalists are engaged in more curation of information than ever, it has become increasingly easy to inadvertently plagiarize when one is not being careful.
Serious mistakes with regard to copied content can be avoided by:
- Being honest about your work and expertise
- Not recycling your own, previously-published work in new articles
- Carefully citing sources when referencing information, paraphrasing explanations, or providing quotes
- Presenting original content as opposed to recycling and rehashing existing stories and conventional wisdom
Do Not Assume You Are Truly Anonymous
Many independent journalists choose to publish information anonymously, especially if they cover sensitive information or are providing leaks from within a business or organization.
The Digital Media Law Project emphasizes that government organizations, businesses, and individuals may follow legal procedures to uncover your identity, and therefore entreats journalists to not assume they are free from exposure when publishing anonymously.
For more advice, review our guide to publishing anonymously online.
Do Not Provide Stale, Recycled Content
The best journalists provide new, unique, and valuable information in a format that best suits the needs of their audience.
Alack, many journalists report platitudes and recycle information and commentary that has already seen a great deal of coverage. Many more (perfectly respectable) journalists and organizations work completely by the book- creating content as though they are filling out a form or following a set formula (you'll see what we mean below).
We urge you to not fall into this trap, and to instead ask yourself the following questions when assembling content:
- What new, unique value am I providing?
- What can I do to make my information easy to understand and access?
- What information can be eliminated? Does my content contain fluff that ought to be removed?
By carefully thinking through the value and format of each article, video, or post you share, you can share information that is far more likely to gain traction, make an impact, and enjoy widespread coverage.
Popular formats and subjects are not necessarily the best formats and subjects.
Do Not Make Your Content Difficult to Find
Though your primary goal should be to provide carefully-researched, well-written, informative content, you also stand to gain from creating content that is easy to find. See our introductory guide to SEO for an overview of basic components of search-friendly content.
Do Not Neglect Your Readers
Journalists are not finished once a story runs. These days, most reporters are expected to respond to comments and questions readers contribute to online stories after they run. Though a great deal of post-publication conversation takes place in the comment thread attached to a given article or video, discussions often overflow into social networks such as Twitter. You should be prepared to respond to and address readers' comments across multiple platforms.
In addition to addressing when, how, and how quickly you will respond to comments, you should have set protocol for taking offensive or inflammatory content down. For additional guidance, see our tips on developing a comment moderation policy.
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