Thursday, April 28, 2005

Anatomy of the Story

I'd like to explain exactly how this story was put together and how it differs from the citizen journalism that I write about.

The most important point to acknowledge is that this story benefitted from being afforded the reporting and research resources that comes from writing for a major publication.

I spent the best part of a month researching, reporting and writing the Wikinews story and I travelled to San Francisco and Los Angeles in the US, Reading in the UK and Berlin, Germany to interview Wikinews contributors. In all, I conducted over 15 hours of interviews and spent many more hours following Wikinews online.

I also read the following books in order to prepare for the story:

We The Media - By Dan Gillmor
Smart Mobs - By Howard Rheingold
The Victorian Internet - Tom Standage
My Trade - Andrew Marr

I worked with an editor in framing the story before writing it and I received a structural edit after I turned in the first draft. I then did a re-write based on the editor's instructions.

Once the story was killed, I continued to edit and fine tune the story myself. Also, I made a good faith effort to ensure that all the information in this story is correct.

Put simply, this meaty type of feature is currently out of the range of most citizen journalists simply because they lack the means to do the amount of research and reporting I do routinely as part of my job.

Ironically, I now find myself in a similar situation to citizen journalists - plenty to say on a subject but no obvious mainstream outlet for it.

I'm not alone. Kill fees are part and parcel of the journalism business and there are many good stories failing to make it into print each month. David Wallis recently edited a book titled Killed: Journalism Too Hot to Print while a friend of mine once had the genius idea of launching a magazine titled Kill Fee.

I note this without any bitterness at having my story killed (well, not much anyway). Having worked as an assigning editor and having killed plenty of stories in the past, I understand the whims of the process. Live by the pen, die by the pen I guess you could say.

Finally, in posting this story online in this format, I hope to generate a conversation around Wikinews and also offer a sense for non-professional journalists of the amount of time and effort that goes into producing a piece of work like this.

I've provided links to key characters throughout the story and I am happy to discuss passages and themes of the story in the comments section.

In time, this blog may yet produce its own organic template for understanding more about journalism - citizen and professional.


Blogger Sj said...

Great overview; the anatomy makes it fantastic.

6:21 PM  
Blogger JTH said...

Very interesting piece
Thanks Dan (Gilmore) for the link to it

I was first introduced to wiki's back in the late 90's but didn't really delve into them until last year.

I'll be sharing this piece with some old friends (now retired) from the newsbusiness.

I will also be sharing it with some that I'm trying to educate about the benefits and uses of blogs.
This is yet another one to add to the stack.

6:55 PM  

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