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Know Your J-Jargon

payola: Money or gifts given in the expectation of favors from journalists. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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5 questions to ask when presented with a story

When students read or hear a news report, the first word that should come to mind is “REALLY?” – with a question mark indicating the skeptic’s voice. When your students write or produce a news report, “REALLY?” is the first word that should come to mind.

Is this REALLY the story?  Is this REALLY the whole story? Is this REALLY physically possible? Is this REALLY what I need to know? What do my readers and listeners REALLY want to know?

Use these 5 questions to focus on this intersection of skepticism, curiosity, openness, reporting, critical thinking and knowledge.

  1. Who said it?
  2. Can I trust the source?
  3. Is that person biased on this subject?
  4. Am I biased on this subject?
  5. Where can I get reliable information to help me frame my opinion?

To see how these questions work with real stories, check out the archived version of our Nov. 22 webinar REALLY? Teaching Students to Ask Critical Questions taught by Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute.

Replay the webinar.