Before you begin writing an article, a wise decision would be draw up a rough outline and structure of the arguments and instances you are going to develop. This prevents you from rambling and losing sight of the core ideas during the writing process. However, even before making an outline, you must complete the most crucial component of your article: your research.
In a field such as environmental journalism, which tends to polarise people politically, geographically and ideologically, it is important to ensure that anything you say or any argument you make is backed by solid research. Moreover, environmental journalism often contains reference to concepts in social sciences, natural sciences and politics, all of which need inclusion of data and expertise, making good research indispensable. Not only does this make your article credible and authoritative, but it also makes it more interesting and engaging for the readers. Here are a few pointers that you could consider for your next article.
Your research must always be in anticipation; you never know what you might across. Being aware of current affairs and developments, either through the news, social media or personal instances will open up various topics of interest which you could pursue for your article.
Once you have decided on a topic, it is advisable to do some perfunctory background reading to understand the topic better. This could either be a trip to your library and finding books relating to the topic, reading through online newspapers and magazines or just consulting popular resources like Wikipedia.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to write, you can use online research databases. If your university gives you access to websites like Jstor, you can look at academic research on your topic. Depending on the nature of your topic, you can use a search engine to find specific news articles or editorials on that topic, so you now the findings and opinions which have been made in support of or contrary to your arguments, while also providing useful examples which you can include into your article.
Some of the best online journalism features first hand investigative reporting. Any data which you gather for yourself is called a primary source. You can collect data by travelling and interviewing people on the ground if your topic requires it. Another option if, you need a survey amongst a sample of the population, you can also use tools such as Google Forms and Survey Monkey to collect data online. Based on this data, you can infer your conclusion, and use pictorial or tabular representation to explain your findings to the readers.
Including quotations and findings by experts in the topic you are covering adds tremendous value to the credibility of your article. You can either contact and interview experts personally, or quote their opinions or findings, by citing the appropriate study or article. Make sure to credit your sources correctly!
If you feel that you’re unable to find something that you need, like a news article covering an event or specific data regarding a new technology, Google shall always save you. But Google provides thousands of hits per query and it would be impossible to go through every single one. So make sure you use as specific and detailed a query as possible with multiple keywords. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, broaden the scope, make the search slightly less specific and try for new hits. Continue this process till you find what you need. Also, Google Books and Google Scholar are excellent resources to find books and journals which might otherwise be impossible to immediately get.
To ensure that you are article cannot be faulted for lack of accuracy, you must perform a fact check. Make sure you cross-check every quote or statistic you use and that facts and opinions are clearly indicated as such. Useful tools for fact checking can be found at https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/training-tools/fact-checking-resource/ and http://journalistsresource.org/
Here’s wishing you a great new season of writing well researched and interesting articles!
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