Archive for the ‘Education and Training’Category

Do You Have Someone Who Sincerely Misses You?

We do not worry about poverty any more like in the past. However, many people are insecure. It is weird that the world is not becoming better as we learn more and become wealthier.

I think we can cure our mental sickness with a good education. Learning should be a tool for cultivating ourselves morally not carnally. The leader should be a teacher. If students love what a teacher teaches, they would never be sick mentally because they truly learn real value about an education.

I took some training for a teacher during a vacation, and there I met some junior teachers. I tried to pass on my knowledge to them as much as I can. However, sometimes I am disappointed that some are taking training and teaching students only for their promotion, which definitely cannot influence positively to their students. 

Six more years left until I can be with my students as a teacher. This makes me actively participate in the coming training. This is one of my happinesses in my life these days.

*To read entire articel in Korean:


08 2013

Double-Check Your So-Called Facts

While interviewing some folks for an article that I was writing about the local horse industry, I heard a comment repeated that I’ve heard from time to time during the 20 years that I’ve lived in Parker, Colo.

I was told that Douglas County (Colo.) has the largest horse population per capita in the nation.

Since I was writing an article for the Parker Chamber of Commerce’s annual magazine, I decided it was time to try and find someone who might know if that claim is actually true. Yes, I’ve heard it for years. Yes, the person who said it recently also has heard it for years.

The information was repeated, but it was never actually verified. It was time for me to put on my reporter’s cap and do some digging into the truth.

Guess what? I couldn’t verify the claim. In fact, after making calls to numerous people involved with horses and the horse industry statewide, most said they didn’t know. Only one person said he doubted the statement could be true and gave me some information that would lead one to believe that no way could the claim be factual.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was crazy to believe the same claim for 20 years – especially with the area’s incredible population explosion over that same time period.

This is a good lesson for citizen journalists and writers of all kinds. Just because you hear a statement of so-called fact repeated over and over, does not make it true. It is always best to find an expert who should be able to tell you whether the information you’ve heard is factual or absolutely absurd.

So don’t repeat everything you hear as fact – even if you’ve heard it for years and from multiple people. Do your due diligence to uncover whether the information is a myth or reality.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (

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03 2012

The Challenge of Obtaining Information Under Deadline Pressure

The idea of completing an article on a deadline can often be intimidating for citizen journalists, especially when hard-to-get interviews are involved.

And there may be times when not all the information can be obtained by the time you need to complete your article. As a citizen journalist, you will need to learn the best way around this difficulty.

For starters, you will probably have to write a follow-up article when more information becomes available.

And you’ll have to be persistent – but not a pest – when you try to contact individuals who have the key information that you need.

There will be occasions when people simply refuse to be interviewed or to be available for an interview. That is their prerogative. No one is required to give you an interview.

But there are techniques you can use to try and get them to talk to you.

1) Always identify yourself and say that you’re working as a citizen journalist for whatever publication or outlet you are writing your story. That information gives you credibility and authenticity, and a reason for requesting an interview.

2) For those individuals who fail to return your phone call, try going to their office to see if you can catch them between meetings. Or, ask someone in the office if there is someone else you could talk to who could provide you with the needed information.

3) Try to understand the source’s position. Perhaps there is a good reason the person is not available to be interviewed. Perhaps the source has meeting after meeting and no time to respond to a phone call.

If that’s the case, let your sources know you will only take a minute of their time. Make sure you have done your research and are knowledgeable about the topic at hand so you won’t waste time asking basic questions.

In the end, it may be impossible to get the interview in the time you have allotted to complete your story. To let your readers know you tried to get all the answers to your questions, you should include a sentence, such as: “Repeated attempts to reach the city police chief were unsuccessful” or
“The mayor failed to return phone calls requesting clarification on the issue.”

Those sentences let your readers know that you realize the story may not be complete and that you tried your best to get answers to the questions they might have.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists“.

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10 2011

Tiny URL’s: More than Shrinking URL’s: Link Your Supplemental Articles at your Home Page to an Article Elsewhere

I’ve begun to use the service because you can shrink a long URL into something short and manageable. I’ve seen URL’s with over 170 characters go down to twenty-five or so!

I even had to turn my official website URL into a tiny URL because pasting some website’s log messed up the front page. Fortunately, I knew how to go down the middle of my McGraw-Hill website—Northeast Texas Virtual Library, formerly, and turn that Table of Contents into the new front of the academic website. I also have a religious website that’s smaller and I don’t publicize a lot.

Then I had an idea. Write an article then put it in my McGraw-Hill Pageout website. Copy the lengthy URL of the document and paste it at tinyurl. Check to see if it works. Then take that URL of the new document at my McGraw-Hill Pageout site, and use it in articles for citizen journalism websites.

For example, I wrote a two-page table of contents entitled, “Chapter Sections Published Elsewhere,” an alternative style of sample chapter for my Developmental English/Writing textbook. These twenty chapter sections were published as articles at various websites, such as Associated Content, Connexions (of Rice University) and Lesson Plans Page. All but the final entry can be found in the 8th edition. The last one, “Veterans Interest Unit” shows illustrations from Flickr, the photo-sharing branch of yahoo.

I mentioned my textbook’s sample chapter with the tinyurl for an article I wrote for the local ABC affiliate’s citizen journalism about the East Texas State Fair.

How is that relevant, anyone would ask? First of all, Sample Tuesday was a day when treats such as funnel cakes were selling for $2 instead of $6. So I wore an index card clipped to my shirt pocket with the advertisement, “Chapter Sections Published Elsewhere” and the tinyurl where you could read it. Eventually the card moved to my jeans pocket. Meanwhile I tended to my duties at the toy tent.

I wrote a short editorial (intended to be heartwarming) about my thoughts sitting in a tent full of cartoon balloon toys that I sent to Associated Content, now a branch of yahoo. The link to the little article at the big website from the long article at the small website became a supporting detail and visa-versa. This time I felt that keeping the original long URL’s was preferable.

This self-marketing technique becomes quite portable. Now you can find this “Elsewhere” tinyurl at Facebook and Linked-In as I seek textbook publishers. Look at this procedure as an option to attaching documents, which is not always possible.

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10 2011

CJ Handbook Becomes a Resource in Malaysia

The training and motivation offered in the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” has gone international.

The handbook, believed to be the only book written for citizen journalists, was given to all of the participants at the second conference for citizen journalists in Malaysia Sept. 23-25.

“The citizen journalists were impressed with the book,” Maran Perianen, a trainer of citizen journalists, told handbook co-authors Ron Ross and Susan Cormier in an email.

“I also plan to give the book in my future training for their reference,” said Perianen, who also is the program director for an online news agency, Malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini, with the assistance of Washington, D.C.-basedInternationalCenterfor Journalists, has successfully conducted almost 70 workshops across Malaysian and has trained more than 350 citizen journalists, according to Perianen.

As the result of this training, Perianen said, the citizen journalists have successfully produced more than 1,500 news videos and almost 1,000 news articles.

“These stories have triggered significant reactions from many individuals, organizations and the government itself.”

I am pleased the citizen journalists will be using the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists’’ as a resource guide. I truly believe that the information, motivation and training they will receive from the handbook will help them in their future endeavors.

And, of course, Ron Ross and I both want to congratulate the Malaysian journalists for their work and wish them continued success.

You can visit the Malaysian website at

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (

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10 2011

New School Year Creates Openings for Citizen Journalists

The beginning of the new school year creates citizen journalism opportunities for students and parents alike.

Students may want to write about their school’s clubs, happenings and sports events. Parents also may want to cover their children’s sporting events – competitions that might not otherwise be covered by the local media.

Students and parents should strive to be as objective as possible as they can in reporting and writing about these events. For example, a mother covering her son’s football game should set aside her bias of her son’s abilities so she can provide a fair and accurate report of each competition.

Those who can provide unbiased reporting may also want to contact their local media outlet to see if their reporting and writing services can be put to good use. Many local broadcast and print news operations gladly accept the services of citizen journalists especially if they are reliable, are able to write like trained journalists and can meet deadlines.

If you are interested, you should call the newsroom of your local media outlet. Tell the person who answers the phone that you would like to provide coverage of specific local school events and ask who you should talk to. Ask to speak to the appropriate person and request an interview.

Before you go in for your interview, study the ways the media outlet writes about the events or sports you want to cover for it. Then, prepare some writing samples to take to your interview.

For those who may want to brush up on skills before the interview, the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” includes several skills chapters about writing news, feature and sports stories. E-copies can be purchased at

Susan Cormier is co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists“.

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09 2011

The Five Ws are Just the Beginning

Thorough reporting is essential to writing a complete news article, so don’t forget to ask the five Ws and how.

Who? Who did what to whom? Who was or who will be involved?

What? What did they do or what do they plan to do?

Why? Why did they do it or why are they planning to do this?

When? When did it happen or when will it occur? Be specific. If it is something that will happen over time, give the starting and end dates. If it is a one-day event, give the specific time and the date. If it already happened, the time and date should be readily available.

Where? Where did they do it or where will it happen? Again, be specific. Your readers will want more than your city or town. They’ll want the address or general location.

How? How did it or how will it happen?

Let’s say you are covering a government entity’s construction project. You’ll need to ask: Who is doing the construction? What are they building? Why are they building it? When will the construction happen? Where will the construction take place? And finally, how much will the project cost?

Don’t stop there. While the answers to these questions are crucial, they often don’t answer all the inquiries your readers may have. And sometimes the answers you receive generate additional questions you need to ask.

In this example, you asked about the cost of the project. But you also need to ask how the project will be funded and how many people will be employed.

When you are done asking your questions, ask your source if there is any supplemental information he or she would like to add. You might be surprised to learn they are using new, innovative techniques your readers will want to know about.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” which can be purchased as an e-book at

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08 2011

News Stories Begin With the End

A beginning writer recently asked about the difference between writing stories and writing the news.

With stories, the writer almost always starts at the beginning, expands on the story line and then winds up with an end. This format gives readers the enjoyment of becoming engaged in the story, becoming attached to the characters and the outcome.

A news story is just the opposite. In fact, reading a news story is like reading the end of the book first.

When you read a news story, you learn what happened in the first paragraph or two. You don’t have to dig through paragraph after paragraph of explanation to find that key information.

The first paragraph – or lead – summarizes the key items people want to know about a news event. The second and third paragraphs support the lead and provide additional answers, such as the how and why, and maybe even a quote. Succeeding paragraphs contain information that is secondary and can be listed in order of decreasing importance.

The information is organized this way so that it is easy for readers to understand the news quickly. It hits them head on, making it more convenient for them to quickly understand what happened and decide if they want to continue reading the article.

Readers who want just the basic facts without all the details can find it in those first few paragraphs and stop reading. Readers who want more details can keep reading to the end.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (

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07 2011

Your Story Will be Better With Multiple Sources

When writing articles that rely on individuals’ opinions about a situation, event or service, make sure you interview and quote more than one person.

Let’s say you are writing a story about college students who are participating in a volunteer program to provide health care in Central America. Make sure you interview multiple students to get their perspectives on why they are volunteers in the program.

Be sure to also quote several different students in the story, not just one. In situations where they agree, you can write “the students” said they look forward to experiencing life in another country.

But also make sure you quote several students separately so your readers can learn the variety of perspectives offered by them. One student may have volunteered because of his aspirations to become a doctor, while another student may be involved because she wants travel the globe.

An exception to this would be if you are doing a feature story on one specific person in the program. In that case, the focus of your story would be on the individual rather than the volunteer program. And that would be a totally different approach to the story.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (

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06 2011

Tips on Proper Word Use

I don’t mean to nitpick, but here are a couple of reminders on how to use words that are often used improperly.

Over, more than - Many citizen journalists use the word ‘over’ when writing about numbers, such as: “over 200 people were at the event” or “she makes over $50,000 a year.”

According to The Associated Press Stylebook, the words ‘more than’ are preferred when dealing with numbers, so it should be: “more than 200 people were at the event” and “she makes more than $50,000 a year.”

The word ‘over’ should be used to refer to spatial relationships. For example, “the ball was thrown over the boy’s head.”

Burglary, robbery - For news people, there is a huge difference between a burglary and a robbery. A burglary involves entering a building and remaining there with the intent to commit a crime. A robbery involves the use of violence or threat while committing a theft or stealing.

Demolish, destroy – Both words mean something is gone completely and for good. It would be inaccurate to say the building was partially destroyed and it would be redundant to say it was totally destroyed.

Below are examples of words that get misused when people are in a hurry. Slow down when you are writing. Think about what you are trying to say and whether you used the correct word.

Cite, site, sight – Cite means to summon someone to appear in a court of law, or to refer to or quote a resource or example. He cited The AP Stylebook in defending his use of more than. Site is a location. Sight is the act of seeing or a remarkable view.

There, their – There is a place. Their is a possessive. The house is located there, but it is their home.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (

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06 2011