Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, Newhouse School, Syracuse University. Editing for print and digital, new media journalism.

Close your eyes and look around

By · Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 · Comments Off on Close your eyes and look around

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Picture yourself in a picture. Wherever you are right now, look around. Up, down and sideways. Take it all in.

This is the first step in a process that can help you notice details and remember them.

Why is that important? Details bring a story to life. They naturally color the picture for you. Not only colors, but also sizes, shapes and all things that make up any scene.

During an interview, for example, these details can bring a person to life — by defining the office space, the home or where the person hangs out for coffee. Surroundings can help to identify personality traits, hobbies, travel experiences and more.

If you would like to proceed with the process we mentioned, here are the next steps.

How did you do? You might be impressed with your long list. You might be surprised by what you missed.

In the end, may you be ready to tell any story with great color and detail after merely looking around — for even 15 short seconds.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

‘Maybe this year we’re the buzz saw’

By · Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 · Comments Off on ‘Maybe this year we’re the buzz saw’

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still THINKING …

Just published yesterday — a book that is sure to bring baseball to life while we wait for the coronavirus crisis to end and the season to finally begin.

“Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story of How the Washington Nationals Won the World Series” is written by Jesse Dougherty, beat writer for The Washington Post who is also a Newhouse School alum.

Publisher Simon and Schuster describes Jesse’s first book this way:

By May 2019, the Washington Nationals—owners of baseball’s oldest roster—had one of the worst records in the majors and just a 1.5 percent chance of winning the World Series. Yet by blending an old-school brand of baseball with modern analytics, they managed to sneak into the playoffs and put together the most unlikely postseason run in baseball history. Not only did they beat the Houston Astros, the team with the best regular-season record, to claim the franchise’s first championship—they won all four games in Houston, making them the first club to ever win four road games in a World Series.

“You have a great year, and you can run into a buzz saw,” Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg told Washington Post beat writer Jesse Dougherty after the team advanced to the World Series. “Maybe this year we’re the buzz saw.” Dougherty followed the Nationals more closely than any other writer in America, and in Buzz Saw he recounts the dramatic year in vivid detail, taking readers inside the dugout, the clubhouse, the front office and ultimately the championship parade.

Yet he does something more than provide a riveting retelling of the season: he makes the case that while there is indisputable value to Moneyball-style metrics, baseball isn’t just a numbers game. Intangibles like team chemistry, veteran experience and childlike joy are equally essential to winning. Certainly, no team seemed to have more fun than the Nationals, who adopted the kids’ song “Baby Shark” as their anthem and regularly broke into dugout dance parties. Buzz Saw is just as lively and rollicking—a fitting tribute to one of the most exciting, inspiring teams to ever take the field.

Many options exist for obtaining “Buzz Saw.” Congratulations, Jesse, on publishing your first book, and we look forward to what you might be writing next.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

No shortage of coronavirus story ideas

By · Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 · Comments Off on No shortage of coronavirus story ideas

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still THINKING …

Coronavirus coverage is an extreme example of how story ideas are generated. Not only are the basics being reported, but also the fallout in every locality, every state, every country, every continent.

If you are looking to cover a new angle that has not been reported, consider the following:

Not a journalist? As news consumers, watch for these ways that journalists are striving to keep you informed. There is no shortage of stories that need to be told.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

Covering coronavirus is for all writers

By · Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 · Comments Off on Covering coronavirus is for all writers

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still THINKING …

Specialty writing is holding a special place these days in our consumption of news as a major news story — the coronavirus — touches every aspect of our lives.

The idea that hard news is for only “news” reporters to cover has, once more, been debunked.

We have always taught and encouraged a solid foundation in reporting that includes the all-important who, what, when, where, how and why of any story. With the virus, “the story” is any or all of the following on any given day.

These topics — and more — are intermingling in daily coverage of the virus.

For young journalists, the requirement in college to cover news that often was considered “boring” or “irrelevant” is paying off for them now in their specialty fields.

For news consumers, the writers’ experience is providing relevant coverage that is vital for navigating this global crisis every day in their everyday lives.

For those of us on the journalism sidelines, it is reassuring to know that so many specialty writers have it covered.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

3 common feelings you must understand

By · Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 · Comments Off on 3 common feelings you must understand

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still THINKING …

Worried? Stressed? Anxious? All of the above?

Deadlines will do that to you. So will your imagination.

A recent piece in The New York Times by Emma Pattee explains the differences. The reason we share this with you is not only because you might find the information valuable as you navigate each day in a high-energy profession, but also because the story structure is so well done.

Not a journalist? You still will find Emma’s explanations worth reading.

In a nod to your busy day, we turn the rest over to the writer. We invite you to read her piece in full and decide for yourself whether you are worried, stressed or anxious at any given time.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

Polls Part 2: This error is a good one

By · Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 · Comments Off on Polls Part 2: This error is a good one

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still THINKING …

The margin of error is an important term that brings context to every poll and should be included in the reporting of every poll.

First, thank you to George Edmonson and Larry Dietrich, two fellow journalists. They both mentioned the all-important margin of error when they commented on our previous post about the difference between percent and percentage point in coverage of polls.

Now, a brief primer as explained in this piece by the Pew Research Center.

Keep in mind, too, the following details that also should be included in poll coverage to fully understand the results:

The Associated Press Stylebook offers an easy way for journalists to learn about and to brush up on the nuances of covering polls. And when journalists provide the many pertinent elements in their poll coverage, consumers also gain a better understanding of what it all means to them.

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)