By Melissa Kitson @mnkitson
Journalists are talented writers and storytellers. Skilled in how to interview, research and spot what’s newsworthy, a journalist can create interesting, empathetic news stories. Marketers know this. They recognise that journalists can solve problems that copywriters cannot. As the demand for relevant, cliché-free content continues to grow, a journalist has never been more valuable.
After all, a journalist:
1. Understands the value of storytelling
Journalists have a special intuition for storytelling. They understand how to build a narrative arc and take the reader on a journey. These journeys involve the reader on an emotional level. What could be a simple sequence of events is transformed into a story of good versus evil, of David and Goliath, of loss and courage. Through this power of storytelling, a journalist makes a reader care.
2. Appreciates the details
A journalist spots the small stuff. They have a keen eye for the small details and how these details speak to the bigger picture. Whether it is stain on a shirt of a disgruntled businessman, the way a person pauses, the misspelled sign on a door, the smell of fried onion or the distant sounds of soul band Sade, a journalist drinks in a scene and links the micro to the macro. This not only adds colour to a story, it helps the reader to recognise broader issues in the minutiae of their everyday lives.
3. Gives stories perspective and context
Journalists are news-savvy, socially-engaged creatures. They see beyond the brief. Unlike a copywriter, journalists look past brand’s messaging, sales objectives and the competition’s position. When approaching a story, a journalist considers how the topic taps into the current social zeitgeist. They make connections. Their stories show the reader how one issue relates to another. By providing this context, they allow a reader to see a story in its entirety, recognising both how it came about and what it means for the future.
4. Is a good listener
Journalists are skilled in the art of listening. They know what questions to ask and how to subtly steer a conversation to the topic at hand. They are genuinely interested in what people have to say and this encourages interviewees to open up and share. A journalist also has a special knack for hearing the quotable. They know what readers will tune into and when they will tune out, always ready to pounce on the throwaway comment or an awkward pause. This ability allows journalists to extract much more from their interviews, inevitably leading to more interesting stories.
5. Knows how to research
A journalist knows their facts. They know how to rummage, to forage, to collect bits and pieces of information that, while alone may not say much, together unravels – or builds – an entire story. They are keen investigators who understand how to retrieve and read information. Whether they are researching a person’s lineage, statistics on market trends or a secret email trail, a journalist can sniff out a clue and follow it to its conclusion. Unlike copywriters, their stories are not based on conjecture or generalisation. They are meaningfully-written and supported by extensive research.