Week 5: Writing and producing your story, plus notes on privacy settings, tonight’s Google Hangout and your third assignment

If you haven’t read the course essentials post, which contains a link to the course outline as well as important course and time management information, please do so before reading this post. Also, a reminder that your second assignment, your research and pre-interview plan, is due by 5 pm EST on Monday, July 8, as a post on your individual blog.

This week’s materials:
My advice for aspiring explainer journalists (Roberts, 2018)
Designing data visualisations with empathy (Bui, 2019)
Excerpt: Sound reporting: The NPR guide to audio journalism and production (Kern, 2008)
Tips for recording professional audio remotely (Berkeley Advanced Media Institute)
Start-to-finish storyboarding (Berkeley Advanced Media Institute)


If you haven’t listened to Connie Walker’s award-winning podcast series, Finding Cleo, you really should. She tells the story of the Semaganis siblings who were separated from each other and their mother during the Sixties Scoop and tries to find out what happened to the one sister everyone lost track of. It’s a masterclass in how to write and produce longer-form narrative for radio. To listen, go to the CBC website here or subscribe via iTunes.

This week we’re focusing on writing and production skills, from the secrets behind Vox’s trademark explainers to how to best capture audio from your iPhone. I’ve also added an extra reading that isn’t on the course outline. It just came out last month and it’s from journalist P. Kim Bui whose work on building relationships in marginalized communities you read a few weeks ago. In this piece, she talks about taking the principles of empathy and applying them to the design and production of data visualizations.

My advice for aspiring explainer journalists (Roberts, 2018)
In this 2018 piece for Vox, journalist David Roberts offers insights and suggestions for how to develop your skills as an explanatory journalist. His advice – e.g. “learn about something – may seem somewhat facile but is quite instructive when you’re trying to break down a larger concept or idea and giving readers insight into how the world works. Incidentally, I used the Shutterstock image he talks about for our course outline because it is a pretty funny depiction of how this illustrator and likely so many others think stories are written.

Designing data visualisations with empathy (Bui, 2019)
I highly recommend anything from P. Kim Bui. She is a deep thinker on the responsibilities and the impacts of journalism. In this most recent piece, she takes the empathetic approach she first outlined in her American Press Institute research and explains how the same principles can be applied to data reporting. She writes: “Reporting and storytelling methods like photos and videos, in a way, have an easier path to empathy. … What is harder is finding the people and shared experience within numbers and data. How do you get audience members, much less the journalists presenting the story to the audience, to walk a mile in the shoes of a dot? Or a bar chart?”

Excerpt: Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production (Kern, 2008) + Tips for Recording Professional Audio Remotely (Berkeley Advanced Media Institute)
Many of you who are working on radio documentaries or podcasts for your MRPs will be taking the podcasting course in the Fall. That said, you may have already started interviewing subjects for your story. These two resources – one that focuses on writing and production and the other that offers tips for out-of-studio recording – are good quick references for you to consult.

Start-to-Finish Storyboarding (Berkeley Advanced Media Institute)
Storyboarding is often thought of as something you do once you have done some significant preliminary reporting on a feature. However, it can also be helpful to create an early-stage storyboard to visualize the outcome and to help you plan your reporting and production strategy.

setting your blog to private

A reminder that individual blogs are set to public by default. To set your blog to Private, please follow these instructions:

  • From the Dashboard for your site, go to the left sidebar menu and click on Settings
  • Choose Reading and look for the section titled “Site Visibility”
  • In the first section of options, click “Discourage Search engines” 
  • In the next set of options, choose “Visible only to registered users of this network”

Please email Lindsay Hanna (lindsay.hanna@ryerson.ca) if you have any questions.

next assignment:

Your third assignment, due July 19 by 5 pm EST on your classmate’s blog post, asks you to read a classmate’s research and pre-interview plan and share your feedback directly on their blog post in a 400-word comment. You are expected to offer suggestions for additional sources, potential story directions, as well as links to videos, audio clips and articles that could help supplement their research. I will be pairing students with classmates who are working on similar subjects or platforms. The assignments will be made after the plans are submitted, no later than July 12.


Our next Google Hangout is scheduled for tonight (Monday, July 8) from 8-9 pm EST. You should have received a Google invite for the video chat and can click on the link during that time to ask questions or discuss any issues related to your MRP. Joining the Google Hangout is not mandatory and of course, if you have any questions, please drop me an email at asmaa.malik@ryerson.ca.

Have a great week,