The Five Ws | 802 Online

The Five Ws

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Traditionally, the Five Ws refer to "Who, What, When, Where, Why." They're the five questions journalists are supposed to answer when writing a story. There's also an H — "How" — which is important, too.

Now Paul Bradshaw at the Poynter Institute has come up with a new set of questions for journalists in the age of web 2.0:

  • Who can I connect with?
  • What did the journalist read to write this?
  • Where did this happen?
  • When are events coming up that I need to be aware of?
  • Why should I care?
  • How can I make a difference?

You can read his whole post on the list here.

In theory, I think it's great when we can give as much of this information as possible, though as a matter of practical fact, it's difficult to do for every story.

I think Seven Days is doing well, for the most part, with the first two. We're embedding links in stories. We make it easy for readers to get in touch with the people or organizations we write about. And I encourage the writers to send me links to data they find on the web. Last week's article on the 2007 farm bill, for example, contained a number of links to studies and statistics that Ken and Mike cited within the story.

I wonder if it's clear to readers that that's what we're doing? I wonder how I could make it clearer?

I think we also do ok with #4 — we always put relevant date and time info in the sidebars of our stories, or at the end.

We don't do as well with #3, the mapping component, though we do some mapping. Not as much as we'd like yet, but some.

Not sure about #s 5 and 6. I think that comes across in the writing...?

Incidentally, I got this nifty list delivered to my inbox through the Poynter Online E-Media Tidbits list.

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