How do you know if the information you are consuming is news?
News is information in the public interest. The term “news” is multifarious and quite subjective as news exists as a type of information, where news is information that is important to help understand something. News is not only found on television, digital spaces, newspapers, and but also just from people and all forms of identifiable culture. From music to advertising, and all forms of visual/audio culture, the news reaches us as those pieces of information we consume to understand the world around us.
Required reading: De, Botton A. The News: A User’s Manual. , 2014.
Some news can be relevant to some people while not being relevant to others at all. To help make the news more approachable, Radio Free considers music, art, theatre, film, blogs, and other expressive outlets as great sources for fully relating topics from different perspectives. By making reliable journalism more accessible anyone can inform people about what is happening each day from their own perspective and expressive means.
While we encourage news and information to be submitted from all perspectives, we have strict guidelines against publishing inappropriate content, advertisements, information that threatens the basic human rights of expression and speech, and information that intends to be misleading or intentionally confusing for readers.
Case Study – Music
In 2011, Troy Anthony Davis was murdered by the state of Georgia. The Boston based band State Radio wrote the song “State of Georgia” which details the case, prior to his execution. While the state ultimately proceeded with the murder of Troy, the media attention around the song organized both NGO groups as well as individuals to mobilize protests against the death penalty. The song which features a lyrical account of the news was featured by Amnesty International in the video above and continues to educate people on the topic of capital punishment (state sanctioned murder) from a perspective and medium that makes it easier to discuss such topics.
When we create art around topics we find in the news, it provides people with reliable access to information in non-traditional formats. This can be extremely effective in helping to inform people who do not follow the news about important community issues, in this case the impending murder of Troy, and more broadly the judicial system and the use of the death penalties.
Find a relevant news story and think about how you might be able to make news content in a non-traditional way. Get creative and try to follow this simple checklist:
- Identify A Story
First, you need to identify what you want to discuss. Reading the headlines on radiofree.org is a great place to look for ideas.
- Validate The Story
After you know what story you are working with, its time to understand all of the perspectives on the topic. This can include interviewing people on the topic, looking for other perspectives from other news outlets, observing art being made relevant to the topic, and more. It is a time for research and reflection on the ideas presented. Take the time during this phase to form your own critical thoughts, documenting them and any other reliable research.
- Brainstorm Creative Ideas
Once you have an idea of the perspectives being presented, its time to get creative and brainstorm ways in which your critical thoughts can be weaved into the story, as to broaden the perspectives of available, reliable information. Making a Venn or other type of diagram to visually represent your research can be extremely helpful as it will allow you to organize your thoughts visually to be able to share with others who might want to collaborate.
- Outline a Specific Plan
Once you have brainstormed, you’re ready to start making an actionable plan to be able to complete your goal. We recommend using a calendar to keep track of important dates related to your story, writing a little bit each day on the topic, even if it’s just a few sentences as an update, and using an organizational strategy to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your plan.
- Execute The Plan
So at this point, you’re going to be writing a song, making a motion picture, going to the moon, or something in between. You should have a plan and a well formed understanding of what it is you are discussing. Take time to make sure your plan is focused on providing news in the public interest, paints an accurate picture of what is going on, and supports the values you wish to see upheld in the world.
- Analyze Your Actions
It’s critically important that after each project, we take some time and then reflect on the process. This is what will help you grow as a creative. Allow yourself time to focus on how you might improve these skills going forward. It helps to keep a journal or blog about your successes and failures, along with any important notes on your techniques you want to remember.
This project template can easily be adapted to be relevant to nearly any creative process and might be helpful in forming your own approach. The most important thing to remember is that news requires accurate information from many perspectives to be reliable. Creative journalism is not about creating stories that don’t exist, but rather using creative means to share accurate news in a meaningful way.