In session six of the Sinelizwi Citizen Journalism Programme, candidates learn about direct and indirect quotes, and how to use them accurately in news writing. Right after the session, the aspiring citizen journos is assigned task five of the Sinelizwi Citizen Journalism Programme.

When doing interviews, make sure you are taking notes or recording the interview to ensure that you have the accurate quote given by the interviewee (get their permission before recording them!). There’s nothing worse than misquoting someone and having to sort out the backlash afterwards.

Remember, quotes are like the salt and pepper of hard news. Use quotes only when it adds colour, humanity, authenticity or credibility to your text.

Tip of the week:  Get the news out quickly, but accurately

Remember, every story should cover the five W’s and an H: who, what, where, when, why and how. Before publishing an article or blog post, reread your piece to make sure each of these questions are answered.

Lead with your most important information. Think big numbers and the big picture. Pick your juiciest piece of news and lead with it. Your story can be a few sentences or 1 000 words. On the internet there are no word limits, so your stories can be as brief or extensive as you like. Write like you would want to read it in print. These days it is not uncommon for traditional print publications to run an online piece, so it is important to be aware that whatever you write might show up in other places.

Be timely. It’s important to report the news within a day or two, even when you don’t have as much information as you’d like, especially when stories are still developing. If you are publishing online, you can always post updates.

Access the full presentation here.