• Supernews is evolving and is in the  process of re-modelling. As a result, our news coverage will be intermittent. Please watch this space for exciting new changes. "CHANGE THE HEADLINES, AND YOU CHANGE SOUTH AFRICA." Welcome to Supernews, A Citizen-Generated News Network, and Super Stage, A Live Innovation Campus Platform

Training Tips | Supernews 101

Your Supernews Report

Now that you’ve signed up, consider yourself a Super Citizen Journalist in the making!

All you need to do is follow the training tips outlined below by starting with THE BASICS. Next WRITE, PHOTOGRAPH, COPY EDITRECORD or EDIT your way to a Supernews news report, and in no time you’ll be creating news content like a pro! If you need to call in some reinforcements, go to FIND A CREW.

Tips to help you CREATE your Supernews NEWS REPORT like a pro

  1. Check out our Supernews Video to find out exactly what we’re about!

  1. What makes your story a Supernews story? Your story qualifies if it’s ‘a Paradigm Shifter’ which means it offers a new perspective or original idea, is inspiring, innovative, uplifting, imaginative, creative, compelling and hopeful, and has the potential to increase awareness, create change, have a positive impact on society, influence people to take action, and start a new way of thinking. But remember this is STILL EXISTING NEWS – it’s just reported from a NEW PERSPECTIVE. (eg: Report on where a new educational system is working – with a 100% pass rate vs. how many schools are failing within the current educational system).
  2. For starters, your story needs to include the basics. That’s Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. It needs to be true. It needs to be relevant. It needs to be newsworthy. It needs to be current.
  3. Research your story well. Investigate the facts. Is it objective, balanced and credible? Is it clear and informative? Does it make logical sense? Did you personally witness the event? Use your own experience to strike a human chord. If there are 50 other journalists reporting on the same news story, what will make YOURS unique, interesting and important? Imagine telling your best friend the story. How would you break the news or describe the event?
  4. Authenticity is paramount. Your news reports should be made up of your own words, images or footage – or those that you have the rights to use and should be about real events or real opinions of events. It’s not news if you make it up. So as long as your content is real and compelling and captures the essence and the feeling of your story, you’ve got our attention (even if your footage/images appear crude and unsophisticated). Technical competence will however elevate your story, so keep practicing and developing your skills.
  5. Focus your energy on your discipline/passion/field of interest. If you’re studying Political Science, why not become a ‘Political Citizen Journalist’ or if you’re an engineer, maybe you’d like to report on Innovation or Science & Technology. Your audience will appreciate specialized knowledge coming from a credible source and you’ll feel more comfortable reporting on what you know.
  6. Have a plan of action. Once you’ve identified your story, (a Paradigm Shifting South African idea, business, project, product, person, community, initiative, cause, etc), outline or sketch a storyboard to help you communicate it – no matter what medium you choose to use. Pinpoint the most important idea and then decide how to tie it all together. Consider if it lends itself to an update in 3-6 months time which will also inform you how to approach it now.
  7. It’s got to have pace. Your audience’s time is limited – especially online – so make sure you get to the point quickly! You need to capture their attention immediately and keep them sufficiently curious, intrigued or entertained to stay with it till the end. Use concise narrative, powerful quotes, background noise, or creative shot editing.
  8. It’s your job as a storyteller to get people to care. Think about how you can use images, sound and words to express the emotional range of your story and its characters. Remember people relate to issues on a human level first.
  9. Research, prep and interviewing techniques. Set up appointments with key people behind and on of the scene to help you communicate your story. Prepare your interview questions ahead of time and keep them short.
  10. How can your audience get involved? Right now, people feel frustrated and helpless when they read the news because it doesn’t offer them a means to get involved. Remember, at Supernews, you’re creating a participative and pro-active media audience (not a bunch of passive observers of the news). So decide: does your story need a ‘Call to Action’? Are you creating an appeal for funds/expertise/volunteers/resources? Who do they contact and is there a link to their website you need to include?
  11. News is news if it’s within 72 hours. If it’s past its sell-by date, no-one will read/watch/listen to it, so make sure you’re up to date. There are some exceptions, like the Soccer World Cup, for example, which was newsworthy before, during and directly after the event. So use your discretion and common sense!
  12. Keep looking for inspiration wherever you go. Stay updated, scour the newspapers, look for topical stories that need a Supernews injection, follow the headlines, and become news savvy. Whatever happens, you’ll always be the most informed and interesting person to sit next to at a dinner party! (Yip, Supernews can help you improve your social life!)

Tips to help you WRITE your Supernews ARTICLE like a pro

  1. Your headline should be short and as literal as possible. Use a few keywords to explain clearly what your story is about. Remember, the headline is the only thing readers have to go on when scanning for interesting stories, so get their attention and keep it.
  2. This is journalism on the go – less crowded, extra impact. Reading onscreen is much more difficult than reading on paper so keep paragraphs to three sentences or about 50 words each, and only express one idea at a time. Stop at 600 words because that’s when online readers get restless and move to the next article.
  3. The lead. You’re in a lift and have two floors to relay your story to a complete stranger. That’s your lead paragraph. Leave out the clutter (yes, resist the urge) by making it succinct and easy for your audience to understand.
  4. Keyword Search/Tag. Remember that articles should be targeted around one or two keyword phrases to optimize being found by readers using them in a search.
  5. Reference any source material, including quotes if you didn’t originate it.
  6. Include a photo. People are very visual so it’s an easy way to attract attention to your article plus it’ll make it more interesting. Not a great photographer? Check out our photography tips below or go to Find A Crew to team up with a photographer.

Tips to help you SHOOT your Supernews PRESS PHOTOS like a pro

Whether you’re using fancy camera equipment or your cell phone camera, there are a few simple things to remember when photographing:

  1. Tell the story with your photos. To tell a complete story and intrigue your audience, remember to vary your images and use different angles.Use the ‘rule of thirds’. Your first instinct might be to place the subject smack bang in the middle of the frame. We suggest that instead, you place the subject in one-third of the frame, in other words, just a bit off-centre. This will give the subject room to ‘move’ in or out of the frame and create a much more compelling photo.
  2. Take as many photos as you can. It’s always better to make sure you’re covered – for that ‘just in case moment’ – because that’s where your stellar shot might come from.
  3. Check the background. Remember, plain backgrounds often work best, so avoid distracting backgrounds if you can. And always check that your subject doesn’t have anything sticking out of his or her head, like a tree or a pole. (You’d be surprised…)
  4. Make sure your subject is in focus by keeping your camera steady. And if you don’t have a tripod on hand, use a wall, a table or someone’s bony shoulder.
  5. Get up close and personal. No matter what story you’re telling, you need to be close enough to your subject to capture emotion and intimacy. Plus it just might be your best shot.
  6. Frame your photo. Use foreground elements like tree branches to create a frame within the edges of your photo. This adds depth and interest and draws the viewer towards the main subject.
  7. Light it up. Always consider the quality of NATURAL light around you when photographing. Early mornings and evenings give off a magical Golden Light that will love your lens and flatter your subject. Photography 101: keep the sun at your back, unless you deliberately want a silhouette and steer clear of the ultra bright midday sun – it’s not good for your skin anyway!
  8. Learn how to use your flash. In low-light situations, either use a tripod and a flash (that’s balanced with the available light) or just use your tripod and a slower shutter speed. If your equipment permits, then bounce the flash off the ceiling or wall to avoid over-exposing your subject.
  9. Get organised. There’s nothing worse than missing the shot you’ve been waiting for because your battery went flat or you ran out of memory. So bring extras, including a pen and paper…and a snack.
  10. Keyword Search/Tag. Remember that photos should be targeted around one or two keyword phrases to optimize being found by readers using them in a search.
  11. Format. Upload your photos at 72 dpi and 300 pixels. Remember to save your original high res images to a Supernews folder on your computer for future syndication opportunities on other media platforms.
  12. Don’t forget. All photos must be submitted with a caption, the location, the subjects’ names and titles (eg: Director of ‘company name’, etc), and a brief 3 line summary of the story behind your photo.
  13. Download PDF’s and go to these links for more tips on photography and editing your photos:

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Tips to help you COPY EDIT your Supernews NEWS REPORTS like a pro

  1. You’re in charge.We’ve got a lot to do so we’re officially making you your own Sub-Editor, which means that when you feel in your gut that this is your BEST work – and what you want the world to see – that’s when you upload. You’ll only get ONE attempt to re-edit your news report before we give it the green light to be published or not. So make it count!
      1. Articles, YOU need to check that your spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct, that your sources are legitimate and that your story makes sense. (You can ask a friend to assist).
      2. Photos: YOU need to use your own judgment, or ask a friend to help you select the most relevant and captivating photos that tell your story.
  2. Getting approved. Your first THREE news reports are vetted and approved for content quality PRIOR to online publication by a team of back-end editors’. Once you have a successful track record of THREE approved news reports, you’ll become a ‘trusted reporter’. Thereafter, your work will get published immediately. So make us proud! If on the other hand, you get an email with the subject line: ‘Back to the drawing board’, it means your news report needs improvement, namely that it;
      1. is incomplete (perhaps you included a headline but forgot to write a news report or submit an idea)
      2. isn’t relevant to a current or recent story or does not directly answer the challenge brief
      3. contains formatting or structural errors that make it unreadable
      4. violates the Supernews Code of Conduct which may lead to an account being suspended or deleted

Tips to help you RECORD your Supernews VIDEO REPORTS like a pro

Whether you’re using a big professional rig, a handy cam or your cell phone video camera there’s a few simple things to remember when filming:

  1. Your reporting style. It may help if you’ve pre-scripted your news story, so by the time you’re in front of the camera, you speak naturally and with fluidity, otherwise you may come across stiff and unprepared. Also remember, you’re a news reporter not an actor so you need to be genuine. We’re not advocating dry, monotonous or staccato news deliveries, that’s far too old-school for us. We want you to develop your own reporting style. Whether it’s your energy, your smile or a particular phrase you use, we’d like to see your own personality come through. Watch CNN, SKY, BBC etc, and see how the pros do it.
  2. Voice Tips. Speak clearly and slowly. If you have a strong accent when speaking English, ask someone to speak on your behalf. Don’t forget to pause between thoughts or a new idea so that your audience has time to absorb what you are saying.
  3. Practice. The more you practice reporting in front of the camera, the more natural, conversational and confident you’ll become. If you get tongue-tied or flounder a line, take a breath, correct it and keep going (especially if it needs to go live straight away). Otherwise, don’t disregard the take and just pick up from where you messed up. You can always decide what you want to keep or throw out in the edit later.
  4. Visual construction of your story. Ask yourself before and after, ‘Have I got the right shots to tell my story? Are they diverse and comprehensive?’ Usually a news story starts with a wide establishing shot to contextualize the viewer, followed by more detailed action shots in medium close ups. News is not really a close up medium but some detailed close ups like hands working or flags waving can work.
  5. Shoot enough material to cover your story. That means you need to have sufficient ‘B-roll’ or back-up footage for cutaways (footage underlying the narrative or voice-over), that’ll add that extra depth to your story.
  6. Length of report. Aim to make your news clip as concise as possible to get your story across. Anything between 1- 2 minutes in length will do.  (Note: your shooting ratio is the amount of footage you shoot in relation to the amount of footage you edit – which is what everyone finally gets to see. Aim for a ratio of 3:1. So, for example, if your final clip is 2 minutes long, then you should be shooting no more than 6 minutes of raw footage. If you’re really good, or have beginner’s luck, you may get what you need in one go without the need to edit.
  7. Use the ‘rule of thirds’. This is the “golden cut,” which helps frame your shots in a more natural and engaging way. Your first instinct might be to place the subject smack bang in the middle of the frame. We suggest that instead, you place the subject in one-third of the frame, in other words, just a bit off-centre. This will give the subject room to ‘move’ in or out of the frame and allow you to include some background information too.
  8. Hold your shot. A moving camera is distracting so hold your shots for at least 7 seconds to ensure that you get plenty of usable material. Where possible, use a tripod or simply rest the camera on/against a solid object for support, like a wall or a table. Always remember to make sure your subject is in focus. (Note: If you really think the content of your story is strong and authentic but feel nervous about the raw quality of your footage, submit it anyway and let us decide).
  9. Think lighting. Well-lit surroundings are first prize so use daylight wherever possible and avoid fluorescent lighting if you can. Don’t be afraid to move the shot if you’re in a poorly lit situation. Simply ask your subject to move outside or to a better-lit area, like opposite a window. Remember a good interview shot has a dot of light in the person’s eyes and makes them look more alive. (Try covering a desk lamp with a piece of paper and then puncturing a small hole in it to get this effect).
  10. Record the ‘sound of your story’. The more natural sound you record, the better, because it will give your footage more realism and substance and give your viewers more information about the story. An old trick is to point your camera at the ground for a few minutes to absorb the background noise, which will come in handy when you’re editing.
  11. Eye Lines. Make sure that the interviewer stands as close as possible to the camera and positions him/herself at the SAME EYE LEVEL as the interviewee.  Your subject needs to look at the interviewer, not directly into the lens – and NEVER between the two (unless they are making a direct appeal at the end of the interview).
  12. Consistency. If you interview more than one person in a piece, make sure the interviewer is always standing on the SAME SIDE of the camera. And make a decision before you start filming, whether you’re also going to be ‘in camera’ when you interview your subject, or whether you’re just going to extend the mic into the shot (about a hand’s distance from their chin and down, so as not to mask their face). Either way, keep it consistent.
  13. Block noise during interviews. If you’re doing an interview, choose a quiet, echo-free place and stand as close to your subject as possible. You’d be surprised how much external sound can be picked up by recording devices, so if possible, use your body or a wall as a sound barrier – and beware ‘the noisemaking culprits’ like air-con units and fridges. Try to get some distance or turn them off or if it’s simply too loud, a car can make a convenient interviewing space. (Oh, and resist the urge to laugh, cough or “mmm-hmm” in agreement with your subject and try to gesture instead).
  14. Reporting your news story. Set the scene before launching into or narrating your story by highlighting the main ideas upfront and keeping it focused. Introduce the person being interviewed by name and title before they comment. Always ask your subject to include your question in their answer to contextualise their viewpoint – especially since more often than not, you and your question will be edited out of the final video report. For example, if I ask Kevin, ‘Why do you think this idea makes a difference in SA?’, he might say, ‘The XYZ idea will make a difference in SA because it…’. Whatever you do, don’t repeat the information they have just told you. Finally, draw a conclusion and if the story permits, include a Call to Action with contact info. (If you’d like, you can give your name and location and say that you’re reporting for Supernews). Watch some TV news reports to get the idea.
  15. Avoid Pans, Zooms and Dissolves. News reports are simply better, cleaner and more professional when they use static shots. If you must use a pan, it should be tight, quick and purposeful.
  16. Get organised. There’s nothing worse than missing the shot or interview you’ve been waiting for because your battery went flat or you ran out of memory or tape. So bring extras, including a pen and paper…and a snack.
  17. Admin. Always remember to get the names/details of people who appear in your video report – a) in case your story gets broadcast.
  18. Keyword Search/Tag. Remember that your reports should be targeted around one or two keyword phrases to optimize being found by readers using them in a search.
  19. Format. See YouTube uploading requirements under Publishing. Remember to save your original video clip to a Supernews folder on your computer for future syndication opportunities on other media platforms.
  20. Don’t forget. All video reports must be submitted with a headline, the location, and a brief 3 line summary of the story. Check out our writing tips. The Edit. This is what your viewers will finally see. So if you’re unsure how to edit your own video report, go to our Edit Tools section below or get resourceful and go to Find A Crew to find  someone to help you edit your video report.
  21. Go to these links for more video tips:

Tips to help you RECORD your Supernews AUDIO REPORTS like a pro

  1. Your reporting style. It may help if you’ve pre-scripted your news story, so by the time you’re ready to push record, you speak naturally and with fluidity, otherwise you may come across stiff and unprepared. Also remember, you’re a news reporter not an actor so you need to be genuine. We’re not advocating dry, monotonous or staccato news deliveries, that’s far too old-school for us. We want you to develop your own reporting style. Whether it’s your energy, your humour or a particular phrase you use, we’d like to hear your own personality come through. Watch CNN, SKY, BBC etc, and see how the pros do it. Confidence comes with practice.
  2. Voice Tips. Speak clearly and slowly. If you have a strong accent when speaking English, ask someone to speak on your behalf. Don’t forget to pause between thoughts or a new idea so that your audience has time to absorb what you are saying.
  3. Practice. The more you practice reporting, the more natural, conversational and confident you’ll become. If you get tongue-tied or flounder a line, take a breath, correct it and keep going (especially if it needs to go live straight away). Otherwise, don’t disregard the take and just pick up from where you messed up. You can always decide what you want to keep or throw out in the edit later.
  4. Length of report. Aim to make your news clip as concise as possible to get your story across. Anything between 1- 2 minutes in length will do.  (Note: your recording ratio is the amount of audio you record in relation to the amount of audio you edit, which is what everyone finally gets to hear. Aim for a ratio of 3:1. So, for example, if your final clip is 2 minutes long, then you should be recording no more than 6 minutes of raw audio. If you’re really good, or have beginner’s luck, you may get what you need in one go without the need to edit.
  5. Noise. Restrict background noise while recording your voice report unless you are at an event or a protest in which case the background noise will help add to the excitement or tension of your story. If you are interviewing people on your phone, try to find a quieter spot. (Oh, and resist the urge to laugh, cough or “mmm-hmm” in agreement with your subject and try to gesture instead).
  6. Reporting your news story. Set the scene before launching into or narrating your story by highlighting the main ideas upfront and keeping it focused. Introduce the person being interviewed by name and title before they comment. Always ask your subject to include your question in their answer to contextualise their viewpoint – especially since more often than not, you and your question will be edited out of the final video report. For example, if I ask Kevin, ‘Why do you think this idea makes a difference in SA?’, he might say, ‘The XYZ idea will make a difference in SA because it…’. Whatever you do, don’t repeat the information they have just told you. Finally, draw a conclusion and if the story permits, include a Call to Action with contact info. (If you’d like, you can give your name and location and say that you’re reporting for Supernews). Listen to some radio news reports to get the idea.
  7. Get organised. There’s nothing worse than missing the interview or event you’ve been waiting for because your battery went flat or you ran out of memory /tape. So bring extras, including a pen and paper…and a snack.
  8. Keyword Search/Tag. Remember that your reports should be targeted around one or two keyword phrases to optimize being found by readers using them in a search.
  9. Format. Save your audio report as a MP3 file. Remember to save your original audio clip to a Supernews folder on your computer for future syndication opportunities on other media platforms.
  10. Don’t forget. All voice reports must be submitted with a headline, the location, and a brief 3 line summary of the story. Check out our writing tips above.
  11. The Edit. This is what your listeners will finally hear. So if you’re unsure how to edit your own voice report, go to our Edit Tools below or get resourceful and go to Find A Crew to find  someone to help you edit your audio report.
  12. Download PDF’s and go to these links for more info on editing your audio reports and creating podcasts:

Audio Resources

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  Music.pdf
» 459.0 KiB - 4,066 hits - Sep 5, 2010

Tips to help you EDIT your Supernews MULTI-MEDIA REPORTS like a pro

  1. You’re in charge. We’ve got a lot to do so we’re officially making you your own Sub-Editor, which means that when you feel in your gut that this is your BEST work – and what you want the world to see – that’s when you upload. You’ll only get ONE attempt to re-edit your news report before we give it the green light to be published or not. So make it count!
  2. Getting approved. Your first THREE news reports are vetted and approved for content quality PRIOR to online publication by a team of back-end ‘Wiki-editors’. Once you have a successful track record of THREE approved news reports, you’ll become a ‘trusted reporter’. Thereafter, your work will get published immediately. So make us proud! If on the other hand, you get an email with the subject line: ‘Back to the drawing board’, it means your news report needs improvement, namely that it
      1. is incomplete (perhaps you included a headline but forgot to upload your video report)
      2. isn’t relevant to a current or recent story or does not directly answer the challenge brief
      3. contains formatting or structural errors that make it unreadabl
      4. violates the Supernews Code of Conduct which may lead to an account being suspended or deleted.
  3. Video Editing. Focus on selecting the most important parts of your story: if it’s dramatic, you need action shots, if it’s humorous, you need an amusing moment – you get the drift. Then isolate the most technically solid shots to support it (are they in focus, is the sound crisp, etc). Now, with the material you’ve chosen, are you getting your message across? Don’t overdo your edit – you want to showcase the best of what you’ve recorded, not obscure it with fancy editing.
  4. Be ruthless. When you think you’re done editing, take a break, then come back and cut out 25% of your video report. YOU MUST. Put yourself in the seat of a potential viewer and make sure your report, especially the first 20 seconds, keeps them glued!
  5. Encoding: On Windows, use WMV format. On Mac, use H.264. In both cases, the key variable is the “bit rate” – so look for that box. If it’s measured in kilobits per second (kbps), try 1500 to start. If it’s measured in megabits per second (Mbps), try 1.5. If the file is too big, make that number smaller. If the quality seems bad, make it bigger.
  6. Download PDF and go to these links for more tips on editing your video reports:

Upload Resources

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  WordPress_Screen_Grabs_for_Publishing.pdf
» 476.8 KiB - 4,346 hits - Sep 6, 2010

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