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Sources for articles: Hard News By Nikky Raney

When writing a hard news piece (for print or web) it seems as though quite a few news outlets are publishing and producing stories with few sources.

Hard news is timely and usually also involves proximity. Some examples include fires, murders, business, politics, international affairs, etc.

With hard news the inverted pyramid structure (more about that here) is very useful.

Hard news generally will involve the reporter going out and obtaining interviews first hand. Although the news is timely and up-to-date that does not excuse laziness with sources. More and more there are news outlets serving stories that could easily be confused as blog posts - meaning the sources used are usually aggregated from other news sources. With blogging that is fine - bloggers are not held to the same standards as journalists.

With a hard news story there should always be a first hand interview included with someone directly involved with the story.

For example: If the reporter was assigned to cover and report about a local drug bust a source that is essential to the story would be a police officer or any other authority involved (it will later be discussed how to deal with those type of stories in terms of semantics). Another person who would be ideal to interview would be neighbors or friends that would be willing to go on record. If there is a family member that would be willing to contribute to the story that would be great.

Interviewing the police officer is essential, because that is where the information that will be in the lead is obtained. Finding out the who, what, where and when can all be done by an interview with the authority who was at the scene.

In some scenarios secondary sources are also good to add to go along with the first hand sources. Secondary sources would include information gathered via another news source or outlet that the reporter did not go out and directly get first hand (like citing another news source or web site).

The next blog posts will go into detail for the sources essential to features, columns, reviews, editorials, etc.

For the record, blog posts will most likely include side commentary and opinions from the blogger as well as news obtained from secondary sources (other web sites), and in some cases (like this entry) the information provided comes directly from the blogger.

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