Thursday, 16 February 2012

8. Use a newspaper’s in house library system. It can provide important background information to improve your story

The chances are when you start at a local newspaper - even if you've been very good and been reading it for weeks - you won't be from the area.

And even if you are it doesn't mean you will have a grasp of every planning application, political row or even change in the High Street.

This is why you should familiarise yourself with the in-house library. The system which - on theory at least - all the clippings and photographs are stored...well at least for the past decade or so.

Unfortunately in the rush to save space in the dawn of the computer age many newspapers threw out their clippings libraries - and newspapers have been suffering ever since.

But let's work with what we have. The in-house library helps with giving background which can improve your stories no end.

The obvious and most basic example is the on-going story, looking back gives you important background information.

It can also help with finding taking heads - see the previous blog on quotes - who can assist you.

If you are writing a backgrounder - rare on most locals in this age when a lot of editors seem to have a fear of stories that take more than 10 minutes to write up and are longer than 250 words - the information is invaluable.

It provides a first source.

As I warned you I would use examples of some of my old stories - not because they are particularly good - but easy to find.

Here you can see how using the newspaper's library helps fill in details and provides a starting off point for interviews with his family and friends.

Secondly libraries also include photographs which proved essential - see you took them, they may be able to help with your story.

Tomorrow: Making contacts - what to watch out for at meetings.

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