Maria Zozulya: how to create analytical journalism?

Every day, hundreds of different types of news appear in the mass media. Sometimes important news which deserve separate and more careful attention are lost in this stream. Since such news seriously affect the life of the country’s inhabitants.

But how to attract the attention of readers? How to explain the degree of their significance? Stop and completely sort out an important topic! Extensively, through details, background, comparison, opinions of experts and various interest groups. This is known as analytical material.

With its help, we, journalists, not only reveal to the audience the depth of the issue, but also encourage to take a thought on facts and form a real attitude to the issue being raised. The ideal outcome is to create a discussion in society and jointly find a solution to the problem.

Where to start analytics?

Of course, the topic should affect the interests of a wide circle of the population and be relevant. An inexhaustible source is the work of government agencies and officials who do not cope with their duties or abuse the position to please their interests. As a result, this seriously affects the quality of life of a huge number of people.

The following can be taken as a basis as well:

  • Analytical Reports
  • Reports
  • Speeches and presentations
  • Final releases
  • Surveys
  • Monitoring results
  • Statistics and official indicators

Next, we proceed to a deep study of the topic. The better we delve into and study, the better the material will be.

In my practice, I use the following trick: before studying official sources and statistics, I go to special forums and look for discussions on social networks. There you can clearly see the interests, opinions, nuances that excite people most of all. In fact, this is a study of the target audience. There are often “heroes” to illustrate our material, focused specialists.

You can also conduct a small personal survey in social networks. People very often leave interesting comments and help to look at a problem from different and unexpected angles.

The next step is to search for experts. The ideal option is to find irreconcilable opponents. They will certainly become for you a storehouse of valuable information because they will try to level out each other’s arguments. For a journalist, this is a plus since many “pitfalls” are opening up.

The structure of the analytical article

How to build a structure of analytical material?

It all starts with a lead. This is a kind of presentation of our article. In the lead, we briefly outline the essence of the problem and can summarize the facts that we will rely on in the analysis. In this way, we help to set the reader to a serious perception of the problem.

And then we state verified facts and opinions, quotes.

  • Comparisons
  • Trends
  • Indicators
  • Expert opinions

But the most important thing in analytics is the conclusions that appear in the end. In the final part, we place the forecasts and recommendations that came out using the analysis of facts.

The clearer logical chain is built, that links all the facts into a single whole, the easier it is to convince the reader of the correctness of these conclusions.

Mandatory elements of analytics

First of all, this is a multilateral analysis of the problem, which means several points of view on the problem. It is important to collect the opinions of interesting and authoritative people.

In the words of your respondents, talk about the consequences, about interesting facts that were previously unknown to anyone.

Be sure to supplement your material with visual elements – these are graphics, pictures, sliders with photos, video graphics.

An important point: provide your readers only with verified information. This means that all figures must be accurate, provable, where the thesis is supported by facts, statistics.

Try not make inaccuracies in no case.

What style to use while writing?

During my work, I have identified two basic rules: you need to talk with the audience in a language that it understands. All the complicated things in the world can be explained in simple words. This inspires confidence in conclusions and judgments. Do not go too far with terminology – this is not a scientific report.

HOWEVER! At the same time, never write texts as if they were for foolish and uneducated people. Readers never forgive such an attitude. On the contrary, you should be close to the reader.

That is, you need to find some balance: to write beautifully, without complicating and not lengthening sentences, but at the same time in an interesting language. Do not extend phrases for half a page. Try do your best and make your analytics interesting.

Text volume

Analytics involves a certain amount of text by itself. However, we all know that no one likes to read long texts. I advise you to do the following: first write down all the material. Afterwards, take the place of the reader and honestly answer yourself – would you read this article to the end? After that, start removing certain parts.

Do not spare the text: it is not volume that matters, but the information that it carries.

I advise you to draw up the final material with subheadings and lists. This will visually lighten the text too.

Good analytics is when:

  • The topic is relevant
  • Abstracts and questions are clearly formulated
  • The analysis is deep and well-structured logically.
  • Sources are credible
  • Submission is consistent, subheadings are highlighted
  • No logical errors
  • The material provides an answer to the question.

Additional literature:

Reporting for Change: An IWPR Guide for Local Journalists in Crisis Regions ( in Russian )

 

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