Anyone who provides information to the public, regardless if you’re a journalist or not, have to ensure accuracy and correct grammar to maintain credibility. Accuracy is the foundation upon which journalists must build all other skills. To maintain and achieve accuracy one must ask effective questions, take accurate notes, gather source documents, question information, verify information and fact check the content.
There are a few other things one must do to maintain accuracy and grammar. One must be sure they spell a person names right. Any time you have access to a character whose name you will be using, ask the character to spell his name for you, however common the spelling. Print the name clearly in your notebook as spelled, then read it back to the character as you’ve written it. One can even check resources such as Facebook, Linkden, Google, or other internet sources. It is also advised that one should get contact information in case you need to check facts with the character later on.
When obtaining information from a source, make sure you get it from the original source. Ask questions such as “how do you know that?” Then evaluate your source, ask questions to your source to determine how valuable and reliable the person is. After all these steps, evaluate the information and challenge the information by sharing the information with someone who might want to refute it, if a person cannot refute it, that’s a firm confirmation the information is accurate.
To take accurate notes, do not write everything down. Capture the important and interesting essence of the story, not the whole story. Also, make sure to distinguish between information and quotes and concentrate on the strong quotes. Ones that really bring the story together.
Grammar and punctuation are both necessary elements of any piece of writing. They are not the meat of the story nor the most important elements to one but they are the framework that makes the story stand. Grammar and punctuation are two of the tools of being a journalist or anyone who provides reading material to the public, and you should know them inside out and upside down and backwards and forwards and any other way they can be known. One should spend time periodically reviewing and learning something new about grammar or punctuation. You should know what both correct and incorrect grammar will achieve and what happens when you don’t use expected grammar or a typical punctuation mark. Having correct grammar and punctuation in any piece of writing make the piece less confusing and easier to read. If readers find your writing hard to read they are likely to give up and stop reading. Make them realize that what you have to say is important but at the same time, you as the writer have to realize that how you say it and write it is also important.
Having correct grammar, punctuation and accuracy will determine whether your reader will stay with you, and whether your reader thinks you are credible.
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