About drafting

Drafting refers to the process of turning your raw materials — the data you’ve extracted from reports, the notes from your interviews, the photos you’ve taken — into a first draft of multimedia content.

Regardless of your chosen medium, drafting always involves constructing a story that includes fundamental elements. These elements are explored in detail in our E-Learning course Drafting 101: Constructing compelling multimedia content.

After completing this course, you’re ready to get to work. Below, we’ve provided tips specific to different forms of media: writing; producing podcasts; creating photo reports; and shooting videos.

Tips for writing articles

Your target length should be 600 words. Cite authoritative sources and hyperlink to those sources where possible. Include quotes from your interviews and adhere to the maxim “show don’t tell”: let your reporting show readers what you want them to know rather than telling them directly.

Don’t worry about making your draft sound perfect. The final draft will invariably look different from the first version. Rather, concentrate on summarizing the key points of your research and reporting, starting with the most important points near the top.

To get started: Take a look at some past articles we’ve published by young people. Get a feel for the style and tone of this content and try to replicate it in your own work.

Click here to download our article checklist and here to read writing tips.

Tips for producing podcasts

Producing a podcast is not as daunting as it may seem. You don’t need any visuals, you can record someone from a distance and you can use countless tricks to ensure the audio is high-quality.

The key thing is to ensure you have mapped out a good podcast structure, have conducted interesting interviews and exercise discretion in your editing of the audio. News Decoder podcasts should not exceed 10 minutes and should feature at least two interviews.

To get started:  Get professional podcast training by National Public Radio. Listen to our podcast on how to produce a podcast. And familiarize yourself with News Decoder’s podcast series, The News Decoder Podcast.

Click here to download our podcast checklist and here for tips on interviewing and recording audio for a podcast.

Tips for producing videos

A good video tells a story. It has a structure that is very similar to the structure of written stories: a compelling intro; a clear “thesis” statement that explains the topic of your video and its importance; some background information to bring viewers up to speed on that topic; a robust body that features interesting interviews and data; and, finally, a snappy conclusion.

News Decoder videos should be no longer than 10 minutes and should be accompanied by a short text. When you file the video, please submit an accompanying text of between 100 and 300 words that answers the questions: Why did you do this project? What message does this project send? What did you learn by doing this project?

To get started: Check out the BBC’s guidelines for filming a news story, Reuters TV for examples of informative news videos and an example of a video on our site.

Click here to download our video checklist.

Tips for creating photos reports

A good photo report should tell a story. It should invite viewers into the photographer’s world and help them understand what the photographer witnessed and why it is important.

Identify the order in which the photos should appear and include a detailed caption with each photo (including crediting the person who took the photo). News Decoder photo reports typically feature 10 high-resolution photographs.

When you file the photos, please submit an accompanying text of between 100 and 300 words that answers the questions: Why did you do this project? What message does this project send? What did you learn by doing this project?

Click here to download our photo report checklist.

I’ve finished my draft. What’s next?

Once you’ve completed a first draft of your story, you should email it to the News Decoder editor who provided feedback on your pitch. If you can’t find that email, send your draft to submissions@news-decoder.com. After filing your draft, you can expect to receive edits or feedback from the editor within a few days. To learn more about the editing process, check out our revision rules.

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