2. Critical analysing of information

This checklist could help you to identify narratives, discourses and frames journalists (usually) unconsciously use while doing a journalism job. Do not take it as a manual or exhausting list of to do and not to dos – it is more about food for thoughts when gathering, selecting, processing and reproducing whatever information we get into contact with.

Who is the author of the information, and what audience is assumed? From what perspective is information given? Does it include the view of ‘reported’ groups? How much space is given to those groups? And what are the expectations of the audience?

Who are the people in the story? Does it present some as heroes or as villains?

They frame the information. E.g. when speaking about migrants, if we quote police officers, security analysts or government ministries, we will frame the situation differently than we would if we invited comments from sociologists, social workers, political scientists, development workers, human rights experts – or refugees themselves.

How are people depicted? Are they labelled in any collective way? And what about the ‘colouration’ or tone of language?

And how does it influence the meaning and impact of a story? And what about the synonyms selected?

In video stories, the frame includes the images as well as the words. Written articles will often be accompanied by pictures. Charts, drawings and photographs can all significantly change the impact of a story, and cast things in a different light.

Is not the information episodic or thematic? Does it present a story in isolation? Or, in contrast, does it aim to include the wider context? Thematic coverage gives the audience a sense of the scale of the problem, and its wider causes.

What social, political, power, religious, economic or other factors lie behind the story? Who has the power in the story and who is powerless – on an individual, institutional, regional, and global level?

We can frame the whole narrative in a way that directs the audience to a certain way of thinking about the issue. For example, does the information talk about winners and losers? Does it talk about revealing injustice, or protecting national security? Does it talk about economic measures and impacts, or does it emphasise the value of human life?

Which questions are omitted by the author of the information? Which important facts are not mentioned? Which characters should have been included in the story but are not?

You may also like other checklists

1. Am I doing my job inclusively?

Information we work with is influenced in many ways - both, when received as well as when reproduced to our audience. It is not an easy job to minimise these effects, keeping the story and message inclusive might help.

3. Going to the field

What to have in mind before departure on the ground? Especially distanced contexts. What not to forget?

4. Making entry into a community

This checklist is based on Reporting Diversity Manual – it could help you to make contact with members of minority community, but can be used for other social groups as well.

5. Changing your approach to desk-based research – first steps.

Would you like to enrich your desk-based coverage on global issues? There are a few simple steps you can take to begin with.

6. Collecting findings: tips and suggestions.

Nowadays, journalists have a universe of new technologies to communicate across the world – reliably, instantly and for free (or almost). This is the ‘new normal’ for news coverage and journalists have to adapt to make the most of these new opportunities. This checklist might help you with fulfilling this aspiration.

7. Planning is the essence of good coverage.

Irrespective of whether you are working from behind a desk or in the field, solid research and planning is where good journalism begins. This is especially true if you don't really know a lot about the topic. The following checklist is based on recommendations in a textbook on migration reporting, People Between the Lines: A Handbook on Migration for (Future) Journalists.

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