Having the right words matter, on live TV, in print, on livestreaming video and online. But when language is coded, or norms shift quickly, or the topic rarely comes up, it can be a struggle for newsrooms to know which words are appropriate, sensitive and, well, right.
This step-by-step talk is designed to turn any member of the newsroom into a guerrilla diversity champion - so all staffers have the right words, and the smartest best practices - from emails to send to training sessions to host.
As journalists, most of us are empathetic, curious and concerned with language. This how-to workshop will help you leverage those natural inclinations to avoid the kinds mistakes that lead to the traumatization of readers, and sometimes sources around language-sensitive topics like sexual violence, LGBT issues and mental health issues.
But the best practices can be adapted to confront change language preferences around any hot-topic issue, including gun violence/control, immigration and border issues and incarceration/social justice issues.
Identity advocacy and activism happens everywhere, and journalists are held accountable not to the ethics they were taught in school, but to the ethics norms, language preferences and behavioral conventions of every group of people who read your work.
This is a practical look at how, in about 15 work hours, attendees with ANY role in the newsroom can change their newsroom’s culture, language and best practices through concrete action based on test cases and real-life examples.
Handouts will include templates for sample emails, including query emails to experts, solicitation emails to newsrooms and actual stylebook and best-practice updates.
We’ll take you through the nine steps, and the timeline for executing them, that any newsroom staffer can use to make sure their editors, on-air talent, reporters and visual journalists have the right words and best interview practices to get the most sensitive, thoughtful storytelling done in any medium.
Megan Finnerty is the Page One reporter at the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, focusing on breaking and longform stories about the emotional and financial motives behind the news. She’s the founder and host of monthly nights of live storytelling called the Arizona Storytellers Project.
And for the last two years, she’s appeared regularly as a correspondent on Phoenix’s NBC affiliate’s afternoon show, EVB Live, doing live shots, packages, in-studio interviews and expert commentary.
The Arizona Storytellers Project, which won a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award, was recognized for how it involves its audience, from telling their stories in print to videotaping them for online to inviting them on stage to tell at live events. The project also won a National Headliner Awards for first place in Journalistic Innovation.
Megan is obsessed with the idea that oral storytelling and journalism are dedicated to the same goals: creating and deepening understanding among community members, as well as reflecting and serving the communities they’re a part of.
Megan was named a finalist for the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.
Megan feels strongly about NPR, feminism, most everything Dave Eggers does and her hair. She prefers a bold lip to a smoky eye.