Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto killed in Pakistan


Benazir Bhutto is killed in Liaqat bagh Rawalpindi. Pakistan's almost all cellular phones are down. roads are jammed in Karachi and elsewhere in the country. several vehicles have been set on fire. the country is mourning the death of twice elected prime minister of Pakistan and the most popular leader of this country.
She's the second prime minister of Pakistan shot dead at Liaqat Bagh near head quarters of Pakistan's millitary in Rawalpindi. Pakistan's first prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan was also shot dead in the same park.
According to reports there was a bomb blast in the bagh where PPP Chairperson addressed a large gathering during the election campaign, where a sudden blast left around 30 people dead at least 20 at the stop, then a bullet crossed neck of Ms Bhutto leaving her critically injured. She was rushed to the Rawalpindi general hospital, but could not sustain to the injuries.
i wish i can write more, but my fingers as well as my all other nerves are in panic and i'm feeling completely stressed. will try to update you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

45 more journalists arrested in Pakistan

Karachi police released the all journalists they arrested yesterday 20 November during a peaceful protest outside the Karachi Press Club, however, around 45 more journalists have been arrested in Pakistan.
Today, when journalists of Quetta, Faisalabad, Peshawar and other cities of the country took out processions in solidarity with the journalists of Karachi, the police unleashed their sticks on them. Journalists in Peshawar and Faisalabad were severely beaten up. Police made around 20 arrests in Peshawar and 25 in Quetta.
In Karachi, more than 500 journalists gathered inside the Karachi Press Club and condemned police action of Tuesday. They vowed to continue their struggle till withdrawal of PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) Ordinance and revival of constitution.
On the other hand, the government allowed ARY Oneworld on the cable network in the country, whereas, Geo News and all other three TV channels of three group remained off air.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More than 150 journalists arrested in Karachi

Karachi police has baton charged over peaceful journalists and has arrested more than 150 of them including around 10 women infront of Karachi Press Club on Tuesday afternoon.
The journalists of the city gathered in and around the Press Club at around 3.00 p.m. to finalize their strategy against the millitary government's censorship policies and ban over transmission of country's most popular channel Geo News and ARY One World.
The police baton charged the peaceful journalists when they voiced their slogans for their right of expression. Aajiz Jamali of ARY One World, Najeeb of Daily Jang, Khursheed Abbasi of Urdu Eveninger 'Awam', Sabihuddin Ghausi, President Karachi Press Club were severly beaten up and were arrested.
Kamal Siddiqi, Editor Reporting The News, Owais Tauheed, Geo English, Idris Bakhtiar of BBC are among arrested journalists.
Later, in a meeting leaders of the press club and the Union decided to continue their struggle till revival of all constitutional rights of the citizens.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

50 more Places to Shop for Stories


During winter last year when I discussed with one of my former colleagues that I was planning to start a website to share my experience with other reporters, she said I should not exchange my tips with anybody. But, I wanted to share my experience, as I believe knowledge is the only treasure that multiplies when shared.

Its true.

Last time, when I requested Gregg Mclachlan for permission to reproduce list of his "50 places to shop for story ideas," he not only allowed me but liked by idea and gave me access to more of his resources at News College. Had I not tried to share my experience with you and not sought the permission, I would have not been able to find "50 more places to shop for stories".

I hope you'll love this list too. But, again credit again goes to Gregg McLachlan for compiling this list and allowing me to share it with you.


1. Court news: Look at what sentences criminals are receiving. Look for sentencing trends. Maybe, criminals are being ordered to donate to food banks, humane societies or shelters for abused persons. In one case, an illegally killed moose was ordered to be donated to a food bank. Also look at crimes being committed, especially the unusual ones. How does someone shoplift a TV? What are the most common items being shoplifted?

2. eBay: What's selling on eBay that has a connection to your local community? Maybe it's a historic postcard. Or pottery. Or antiques made by some long forgotten factory. Search eBay by using your city/town name. There are treasures waiting to be discovered.

3. YouTube: Just like eBay (see #2), search YouTube. Who's posting what from your community?

4. The Yellow Pages: Think you know your community? You'd be surprised what obscure or niche businesses are operating in your backyard that you don't know about. Start flipping through the pages.

5. Special interest magazines: Live in a rural community? Get your hands on a rural living magazine. Live in a popular eco-adventure area? Get an adventure mag. Live in a farming community? You get the idea. Special interest magazines report on unique issues that likely have relevance to your community too.

6. Visit your local museum: Most people love history about their community, but it's always amazing what we don't know. Exhibits can tell you stories, and give you ideas. Plus, what's not on display can be just as fascinating. Museums rarely have room for public display of everything in their collections. Find out what's in storage too.

7. Real estate listings: Sure, you'll find homes, homes and more homes. But you'll also find businesses, factories, historic landmarks, former schools and churches, bank-possessed properties, and more.

8. Liquor licence notices: Notices from governing bodies that control liquor licences for restaurant and bar owners can reveal not only who's applying for an alcohol licence, but also who's having their alcohol licence revoked because of violations.

9. College, university course guides: Look for the latest course offerings and night classes. Bellydancing? Yes, it's just one of the courses noticed in a college program guide.

10. Tender notices: When municipalities require specialized construction projects, tender notices are issued (invitations to contractors to bid on the work). Find out what work is being proposed. Bridge construction? Sewage upgrades? Sometimes the lowest bids aren't accepted. Why?

11. Insurance claims: Public agencies and municipalities are always settling insurance claims. It could be damage caused to a taxpayer's property. It could an accident involving a municipal vehicle. It could be anything. Find out what's being paid out, and for what.

12. National/provincial/state parks: Most parks operate activities for families, especially on summer weekends. Get a list of the activities planned. Maybe they'll include a late-night owl prowl, rattlesnake education day, or tips on how to survive if you get lost in the woods.

13. Recreational facility users: Find out from your municipality or county which groups are using arenas, ball diamonds, etc. Besides the usual groups, you'll likely find some interesting users. One example of a find: young inmates at a juvenile correctional facility playing hockey at a local arena during early morning hours.

14. Estate sales notices: Often, a deceased person's belongings may be sold at estate sales. Such sales usually advertise in advance in newspapers. You'll get an interesting list of heirlooms, antiques and collectibles.

15. Police auctions: Usually, police forces will annually auction off seized or recovered items, such as bicycles or stolen goods for which owners were never found. The goods sell for bargain prices. And many of the never claimed items leave us wondering . . . I wonder who owned that?

16. Marriage notices: Mixed in with all that standard stuff about exchanging vows, cutting a cake and best men and bridesmaids, you might just find tales of unusual honeymoons (mountain climbing, humanitarian expeditions, etc.), or two people with the last name Smith getting married (yes, Smith & Smith is a true story!).

17. The One Year Ago comparison: You can apply this to almost anything. Take something from the current year and compare it with the previous year. Smog days. Real estate sales. Boating accidents. Business bankruptcies. Fires. Campground occupancy rates. Humane society adoptions. The list is endless.

18. Agriculture associations: Find out what they're lobbying for. Find out about crop yields, the state of crop pests, and general farm trends.

19. Scanners: Most newsrooms have one. But more importantly, what stations are loaded into your scanner, besides police, ambulance and fire? Make sure you have utilities (hydro, gas, etc) programmed too so you'll know about gas leaks, electrical transformer malfunctions, and tricky operations such as the transportation of giant objects via roads which require lifting of power lines, etc). Make sure you have public works departments (the county department that handles flooded roads, backed up sewers, downed trees, etc.) added too.

20. Emergency plans: Most counties have official emergency plans that are always being updated, scenarios being added. Find out how your county will handle epidemics, disasters, etc. Is your local hockey arena the designated morgue if an epidemic hits and hundreds die? Find out. What about vaccinations? Who's where on the priority list? (Sorry, journalists aren't likely No. 1)

21. Campus life: College and university campus life has its own culture of newsletters, websites, bulletin boards, etc. Tap into campus life (no, we're not talking about the beer).

22. Facebook: Who’s posting their profiles on Facebook? Local politicians? Local sports celebrities? Average Joes from your community? What are they saying, sharing, etc?

23. Job statistics: Find out which government agency compiles job data about your marketplace. When you get the data, you’ll be able to see which career sectors dominate your area, which sectors are lacking workers, and whether your area is diversified enough. It can all add up to telling data about whether your community is stuck in neutral or diversifying its employment offerings.

24. Pauper burials: Every community has pauper burials (ie. Burials where no relatives of the deceased have been found, and there are no funds available from the deceased for the burial). Communities allocate X amount of funds for such burials. Tell the story of one pauper burial: it’ll take some digging (sorry, it’s a bad pun) but there might be a touching story there about someone who has left this Earth with barely a goodbye from anyone. Who was Mr. X or Ms. X? Find out.

25. Hunches: Good reporters develop hunches. Many prize-winning stories have been broken because a reporter had a hunch. Maybe it started with a simple "something doesn’t seem quite right here." Or maybe, "I wonder if the government is doing this today because it will eventually pave the way to implement XXXXX next…..?" Or, perhaps, "this is really odd. I think there has been XX break-ins at churches in the past six months. I wonder if they’re connected?" Take your hunches and start sleuthing.

26. Buried leads: Read other reporters’ stories, especially your competitors. In a perfect world, reporters perfectly structure their stories, leaving nothing buried. Truth is, buried leads happen. And when they do, they represent an opportunity for an eagle-eyed reporter.

27. Old magazines, newspapers: Look to the past to reintroduce or update an idea for today. Story themes of the past often have relevance today.

27. What would you like to see in the newspaper?: It's a basic person-to-person question that often leads to someone saying, "Why don't you do a story about...?" Congratulations, you've just used your readers as a source for ideas.

28. Check out Newseum: This is a one-stop website for quick hits about what other newspapers are doing. Visit www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages. It's bound to generate some ideas, or at the very least, some inspiration.

29. Advice columnists: Read about the problems facing average people and how they are being addressed by advice columnists. It might be the lonely bride bemoaning the husband who still insists on hanging out with pals at the neighbourhood bar on Friday nights. Or it may be the family who has a dog with bad manners that makes social visits with friends an uncomfortable affair. No matter what is discussed, you'll likely find oodles of social dilemmas that are common for many of your readers.

30. Whatever happened to...?: Readers often wonder about whatever happened to....? And we often forget to tell them. It can be people, places or events.

31. Unsolved crimes: Every community has them. Sometimes they're long forgotten crimes. Or sometimes they're stories we wrote a month ago and then let slip. Long forgotten cold cases can make for fascinating reading. More recent unsolved crimes simply beg being revisited: Has anyone been arrested? Has the investigation grown cold?

32. Anniversaries: We're not talking Uncle Jed and Aunt Sally's 50th wedding anniversary (although, there might be a story there too!) We're talking about anniversaries such as the 20th anniversary of a tornado that destroyed a town. Or the 25th anniversary of a $1 million lottery win by a local couple. Or the 10th anniversary of the closure of a community's major factory. All these dates represent the opportunity to reflect on the actual event when it happened and how life has changed years later. A smart editor or reporter will log important dates and be prepared for such stories.

33. Use a newsreader: Many websites today offer RSS (Really Simple Syndication) news feeds. Popular newsreaders include www.NewsGator.com, www.Bloglines.com, www.FeedReader.com. Just Google 'newsreaders' and you'll have many options (some free, some paid). Newsreaders are great ways to customize which newsfeeds you receive so you can tailor information to your beat or just general interests. RSS lets you stay on top of the latest news or blogs.

34. Use social bookmarking sites: Facebook (see #22) is so vast and useful it's worth being its own source for story ideas. But there are other social bookmarking sites that specifically track and circulate popular website finds. www.Digg.com, www.StumbleUpon.com and Del.ico.us are sites where users share and categorize their favourite websites. It's an excellent way to find what's hot with web surfers and stay current with what's trendy.

35. Google Alerts: If you don't have time for other Internet websites or online services for story ideas, do the basic thing: Go to Google and create Google Alerts. You can get Alerts sent to your email inbox for anything, such as news containing the name of your home town, favourite team, favourite sports athlete, politicians, etc.

36. Subscribe to PR Newswire: This is an invaluable free service for receiving press releases about companies and products which are often produce excellent leads for news stories. One corporate press release spotted recently was a warning about counterfeit Colgate toothpaste finding its way into the marketplace. Another release touted concrete canoe racing (now that's a story to sink your news sense into!). Sure, it's PR and you'll get corporate spin, but that's why we're journalists who sort the spin in order to come up with story angles. Use either www.prnewswire.com or the journalist-specific http://media.prnewswire.com.

37. Check out those oddball stories: We all get a good chuckle and raise an eyebrow at some odd stories. Sometimes odd stories present an opportunity to get local reaction. When the Vatican released its 10 Commandments for Good Motorists in June 2007, it was an ideal opportunity to do just that. What do motorists in your community think about Thou Shalt Not Make Rude Gestures, or Thou Shalt Keep Your Car in Good Shape? Ask them. A good source for odd stories is www.reuters.com/news/oddlyEnough

38. Columnists: Columnists who share ideas may actually plant the makings of a news story. For example, a columnist who is critical of efforts to halt the spread of the exotic invading Asian carp in the northeast United States, may provide the theme for a issues-based news story based on the premise: Are we doing enough to stop the Asian carp? Look for potential story lines in columns.

39. Hospital statistics: Hospitals keep statistics. Tons of statistics. Number of babies born. Number of visits to the ER. Number of MRIs performed. Revenue generated from in-room television rentals. Parking lot revenues. Even numbers for specific injuries (lawnmower injuries, backyard trampoline-related injuries, etc.)

40. Your own newspaper's archives: This should be required reading for every journalist who starts a job at newspaper. Have the reporter spend an hour or two flipping pages in the archive room. They'll hopefully gain an appreciation for the newspaper's history, and no doubt, stumble upon an idea worth resurrecting or revisiting in terms of what it means today.

41. Put your own curiosity to work: Good reporters are curious. They have an insatiable appetite to know why something is the way it is. Or, simply what if XXXX happened? Chances are, your readers are curious to know too. It's no coincidence that curious reporters are the ones called diggers.

42. Use your newspaper's searchable database: Most newspapers have a searchable database of previously published stories, but many journalists often forget to use such a database. That database is essential for getting up to speed on a subject, and getting the mandatory background information you'll need for your story. It's also your vital tool for what's on the public record. For example, don't take a politician's word that he/she has been an active proponent of XXXXX. Search your newspaper's database. What did your newspaper report a year ago, or two years ago about this politician? What was he/she saying back then? You might find some contradictions. Too often we let politicians talk a good game in the present, and forget to challenge it down the road.

43. Club notes: Once a fixture in many newspapers, club notes (those little briefs handed in by men's or women's clubs and social groups) often get passed over when we read a newspaper. "They're just taking up valuable space," we might say. "Nobody cares if these people met for tea and had a 50/50 draw." Well, yes, it's often bland, but sometimes there are story ideas sandwiched between those dry paragraphs about calling a meeting to order and what was served for dessert. Once spotted in a women's club hand-in: preparations being made for a meeting with a Belgian prince.

44. Family get-togethers: Spend an evening around a campfire with family, or sitting at at table for a reunion dinner and you'll be guaranteed to get story ideas. What usually begins as family-specific chatter often morphs into a bigger picture discussion. Yes, that little small talk about how grandson Bobby got a concussion heading a ball on the soccer field soon evolves to be a conversation about how heading a ball should be banned for young soccer players. And there's the potential theme for a story: Should young kids be heading a soccer ball? Family get-togethers allow greater time for discussions to expand into something more than just family talk.

45. Ethnic communities: Is your newspaper telling the stories of many communities or just a few? Each ethnic community has issues that are unique. Before you can tell those stories, you need to go to those communities to get the story ideas.

46. Ask your readers to call: Make sure your newspaper invites readers to call in news tips and story suggestions. All it takes is a small blurb that appears in the paper on a regular basis: Got a news tip or story idea? Call XXXXXXX. Sometimes readers need to know their ideas are welcome, before they'll pick up the phone.

47. Meet with Al every morning: Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute has an invaluable free offering. Every morning, Monday to Friday, you can receive an email appropriately called Al's Morning Meeting. It's where Tompkins checks out the headlines and offers suggestions for localizing stories.

48. More story ideas: Check out www.Holdthefrontpage.co.uk. This UK site is operated by journalists. One recent story idea was suggested as a spinoff about a story involving a woman caught stealing toilet paper from a hotel. Holdthefrontpage asks: What about shampoo and shower gel? When does helping yourself to the odd freebie become stealing? Lots of ideas at this site to inspire you.

49. Read show summaries in your television guide: In your TV guide you'll get quick story themes of sitcoms and dramas. And perhaps some inspiration to spin a real-life story.

50. Read fine print: It's so small that people often never read it. But they might be shocked if they did. Drug advertisements. Travel brochures. Insurance documents. Contracts. All those little stipulations in very small text can have some major impacts on your life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Crisis Continues in Pakistan

After humiliation of lawyers and journalists in the hands of Islamabad and Karachi police, alliance of the opposition parties of Pakistan; All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) has finally tendered their resignations from National as well as Provincial Assemblies.
On Tuesday around 86 MNAs (members of national assembly) submitted their resignation. These include 62 MNAs from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), 20 of Pakistan Muslim League (N) and one MNA each from Tehrik-e-Insaf, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and JUI Fazl-e-Karim.
The National Assembly is one of the two Houses of Parliament, with a total membership of 272 elected through universal adult suffrage. 60 seats for Women and 10 Minorities. The total number becomes 342.
Around 26 MPAs (members of provincial assembly) Balochistan have also resigned. However, the most popular oppostition party Pakistan Peoples Party has kept itself aloof from the movement of the opposition. Benazir Bhutto's statement for allowing the US forces to strike for Osama in Pakistan lost her further support of the people.
State has unveiled its full revenge against politicians, lawyers, journalists as well as judges. Yesterday some 'unidentified' people in Karachi in bannes alleged Sindh Chief Justice, Justice Sabihuddin Ghausi for bribery.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

'Go Ahead Musharraf'

Yesterday evening one of my colleagues said he was disappointed again, because the Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed six petitions challenging Musharraf's two offices. "Now any and every general can become a president too," he said.

Six out of nine member bench rejected the petitions declaring them "not maintainable."
Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan said the petitions were maintainable, while Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi, Jutice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, Jutice Falak Sher, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Javed Buttar declared them non maintainable.

Though Gen Musharraf is not the only Gen-President, but the ray of hope this nation developed after reinstatement of the Chief Justice and the bold decisions taken by the Supreme Court is now dead. People of this country have been waiting for the strengthening of the last 60 years.

When parliament and the political parties became a tool in the hands of the establishment, the judiciary had developed the hope after a long struggle and sacrifice of more than 50 people on May 12 this year. Early this month, when state forcibly sent Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister of Pakistan, to Saudi Arabia despite of orders of the apex court, one editor of a newspaper said, "Your judiciary is dead."

Well, Pakistan's newspapers flashed the historical decision this way: Daily Times in its full page headline wrote: Supreme Court says 'Go ahead Musharraf'. In a box news item the daily reported that Presidential candidate Justice (r) Wajeehuddin Ahmed had filed an application with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) that President Musharraf could not contest the election under Article 41 (3).

I am not an expert of law, will wait to see whose interpretation of law is accurate, whether of a retired judge's or sitting judges'.

Headline of Business Recorder reads; SC dismisses petitions (six to three) against Musharraf contesting election in uniform. In an other news daily quoted the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Richard Boucher saying the decision would promote democracy in Pakistan.

May be only Boucher believes this!

Full page headline of The News reported; SC saves the day for Musharraf.

The daily in an other news item reported President Gen Pervez Musharraf emerged stronger with cent percent chances of recording victory for a second term in office as his nomination for re-election crossed all the 'artificially' erected hurdles.

Rahimullah Yusufzai asked in The News why was it so that Supreme Court judges belonging to Sindh and the NWFP often gave dissenting judgments in important constitutinonal petitions having political implications while those from the Punjab usually upheld the government's stance? He said out of six judges who rejected the petitions four were from Punjab, one from Balochistan and one, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, had 'domicile' of Sindh. Recently he served as chief election commissioner of Pakistan. The three judges who gave dissenting note belong to Sindh and the NWFP.

DAWN's heading reads; The day of the General. Musharraf to run for president in uniform. Petitioners, lawyers' leaders livid.

Headlines of other national as well as regional newspapers also highlighted the decision.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Guiding Principles for the Journalist

Code of ethics may vary from country to country and newsroom to newsroom. However, some guiding principles prepared by Mr Bob Steele, Director, Ethics Program, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies would serve as useful advice for journalists at all levels.
Here is the copy of those principles, he provided me during my training at the Poynter Institute summer 2006.

1-
SEEK TRUTH AND REPORT IT AS FULLY AS POSSIBLE

Inform yourself continuously so you in turn can inform, engage, and educate the public in a clear and compelling way on significant issues

Be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting accurate information

Give voice to the voiceless

Hold the powerful accountable


2- ACT INDEPENDENTLY

Guard vigorously the essential stewardship role a free press plays in an open society

Seek out and disseminate competing perspectives without being unduly influenced by those who would use their power or position counter to the public interest

Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise your integrity or damage your credibility

Recognize that good ethical decisions require individual responsibility enriched by collaborative efforts

3-
MINIMIZE HARM
Be compassionate for those affected by your actions

Treat sources, subjects, and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect, not merely as means to your journalistic ends

Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort, but balance those negatives by choosing alternatives that maximize your goal of truth telling

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

50 Places to Shop for Story Ideas

Reaching in the editorial meeting without any story idea may not be so disturbing until questions of the editor regarding new ideas make it so. Story ideas neither grow in the field nor fall from the trees but you can still shop for them! what if they are not a commodity for sale.
Editors can't always help you with the story ideas, so why don't you get yourself and shop for them. I did it last year when I was struggling for some story ideas for the Wall Street Journal, where I worked for a brief period as a Daniel Pearl Fellow, I got one email from a colleague mentioning those 50 places to shop for the story idea. Though I could not visit all of those yet going to few of them really worked.
"50 places to shop for story ideas" I chose the same title for my blog. Thanks to Gregg McLachlan, Associate Managing Editor of the Simcoe Reformer, Ontario, Canada, who compiled the list of top 50 places. List was originally published in The Write Way, newsletter of the Simcoe Reformer.

Credit of making such a highly impressive list public also goes to www.notrain-nogain.org that made it available online for the print journalists. I am reproducing the list after permission of Gregg McLachlan.
I bet you can't afford missing such a good resource.
So, why are you waiting for! Let's start hunting though;

1. The Internet: Check out your local Internet service providers’ websites. Most ISPs host free web space for members to have their own websites. Usually, you’ll find people with simple websites about their hobbies, family, groups, etc.
2. The grocery store: Scan those bulletin boards.
3. Veterinarians’ offices: The public loves animal
stories. And there’s no shortage here. I once spotted a photo of a badger in a vet’s office. I asked about it, knowing the animal is virtually extinct in Ontario , Canada . Turns out, the animal was found injured only kilometres away and was being rehabilitated.
4. Cable television station: Most run a community
events service. Check it out. (And don’t forget your own newspaper’s community events listings)
5. Health department website: It’s interesting what officials will sometimes post on their websites, yet not
send press releases to the media. For example, our health department will post notices about beach closings on its website, but will not issue press releases about closings.
6. Start Googling: Google names, Google town names,
Google organizations’ names. You’ll be surprised what you find.
7. Arena bulletin boards: Association news gets posted here.
8. Church bulletins: We have a staffer who routinely gets
tips from church bulletins.
9. Community signs: Be alert when
you’re driving and read community signs. What are people publicizing to other people?
10. Rezoning notices: You see these
posted on properties where there is a proposed zoning change. Read them. There’s information there about development happening in your community.
11. Classified ads: People sell items.
They look for items. And then there are the oddities such as a cemetery plot for sale. . . you never know what you’ll find.
12. Ads: Don’t confine your reading to
the classified ads. Check out the other ads in your paper. Businesses and organizations use ads to announce events.
13. Club notes: Many newspapers print
club notes from various organizations and clubs. It’s amazing what groups will bury in these hand-ins. Once, a local club buried an item about the coming visit of a Belgian prince. In another item, a Women’s Institute formed in 1918 announced that it was folding due to declining membership.
14. Your local ISP’s forums: Local Internet Service
Providers usually operate discussion forums on their websites. These forums are usually very locally based and feature chatter about all sorts of issues and newsworthy items.
15. Anniversary notices: Read ’em! It’s how you’ll find terrific
human interest stories such as Mae and Jack celebrating 75 years of marriage.
16. Graduation notices: These can be a treasure trove of
story ideas. Learn about the local high school grad who’s going to university in Australia, or the university grad who’s starting a new career in Hong Kong as an ambassador’s assistant, or the young woman who’s becoming a police officer.
17. Obituaries: There are nuggets buried (pardon the pun) in
obituary notices. Nuggets like the person who once taught in a one-room schoolhouse, or the soldier who landed on the beach on D-Day, or the fellow who was a prospector. All stories waiting to be told.
18. School newspapers: Students will publish all kinds of
breaking stories about their school in their newspapers. Find out what events are upcoming, what trips are planned, and about staff and student accomplishments.
19. Sports association websites: Find out how teams are
doing, what tournaments are scheduled, get association news.
20. Hydro poles: People aren’t supposed to staple notices to
hydro poles, but they do. Sure, some notices tout stuff like ‘Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days’, but others may advertise a giant neighbourhood yard sale or a rock concert by an up and coming young band.
21. Sports hand-ins: There are some human interest gems in
those writeups that parents and coaches slide through the mailslot late at night at your office: little Johnny who scored six goals in one hockey game, or the basketball game where Jenny netted 47 points.
22. Eavesdrop: Eavesdrop at the grocery store checkout.
Eavesdrop at the coffee shop. Eavesdrop at the arena or sports field. Learn to listen to what people are talking about.
23. School websites: Learn about staff news, alumni news,
policies, upcoming events and happenings.
24. Blogs: Search for bloggers online in your community.
What are they talking about?
25. Meeting minutes:
Government organizations (councils, committees, school boards, conservation authorities) usually post notes from their meetings. If you weren’t at the meetings, it’s a quick way to review what was discussed and stay on top of newsworthy decisions. Also, look at agendas before meetings.
26. Tourism websites: Find out what’s being promoted as
tourism destinations, and find out what’s being overlooked. Get a list of festivals. Find out who belongs to your local tourist association. Learn where the association is going to promote tourism.
27. Radio, TV: Most have a community events board. Just
because a citizen didn’t call you about an event, it doesn’t mean they didn’t call competing media. Find out what the competition has that you don’t.
28. Nature / environmental groups: Most communities have
these organizations. Find out about their projects, their issues, unusual animals sightings, field trips, etc.
29. Trends: Get up to date on the latest trends and find out
how they’re impacting your community. It might be the hottest new toy for kids. Or it might be something more sinister such as an illegal drug.
30. Cemeteries: Read inscriptions on tombstones. One
reporter here noticed a tombstone with the inscription that the man died in Buchenwald concentration camp. With a little digging (sorry for the pun), it turned out the man was a spy for the allies who was caught by the Nazis.
31. Your newspaper’s ad reps: These co-workers walk the
business beat on a daily basis. They hear gossip. Ask them what they’re hearing on the street.
32. The What Happens Next factor:
Look at stories that have appeared in your paper in the past two weeks. Read them again. And then ask yourself: What happened next? If it hasn’t already been followed up, find out what’s happened.
33. Crime statistics: Talk to police about
what trends are happening, what are the most common crimes, get stats on break-ins, car thefts, drunk driving charges, 911 calls, etc.
34. Weather, weather, weather: From
your local weather office, monthly stats are readily available on temperatures, snowfall, rainfall, etc. It’s no secret that readers love weather stories.
35. Other newspapers: Read their stories. Look for buried
leads. Look for angles that they missed. Look for advancers that tip you off to upcoming events that you were unaware of. Consider how you can give the story a different twist.
36. Use the ‘Is there anything else happening?’ question:
When you’re talking with people, or interviewing them, at the end of your conversation, throw in the ‘is there anything else happening that might be newsworthy?’ It’s a simple interview-ending technique that can lead somewhere else.
37. Demographics: Research statistics compiled by sources
such as Statistics Canada. You’ll find community populations, age breakdowns, income, etc. How does your community compare with national averages?
38. The Barber / hairdresser: Fifteen minutes chatting while
in the chair can produce several leads. Don’t laugh. If it’s happening in the community, a barber or hairdresser has likely heard about from someone sitting in his/her chair.
39. Community centre: All kinds of organizations post information
at these places. All kinds of activities take place here.
40. Year in Review: Most newspapers publish a Year in
Review every January. Print it off and refer to it throughout the upcoming year. Many stories can be updated.
41. Police briefs: In press releases, police give the media a
few paragraphs on crimes that can often be expanded into stories. Also, be alert for multiple briefs over several weeks that show crime patterns.
42. Read magazine covers at the grocery store checkout:
No, we’re not talking about the headlines that scream Aliens Cry Foul Over TV Show Mork & Mindy. We’re talking about the magazine covers that try to lure readers with theme statements such as Bicycle Helmets: Should they be mandatory for adults too? Or Skin Cancer: Are you at risk? These theme statements can help you generate localized stories on topical issues.
43. Employment listings: Who’s hiring in your community?
Tell your readers about the factory that’s seeking 10 workers due to an extra shift being added. Sometimes a story about the flood of applications for a single job can be a telling story about the employment prospects in your community. And don’t forget about government employment listings. Taxpayers always like to know how their money is being spent to hire staff at municipal offices.
44. Welfare agencies: Who’s helping the poor in your community?
Government agencies that distribute welfare payments will keep statistics on how many people are receiving aid. Food banks also keep statistics on how many people are visiting for food. These types of statistics can be reported on a regular basis throughout the year.
45. Member of government websites: Visit the websites of
your local member (MP or MPP) of government. Obviously, there will be lots of news releases touting the ‘great work’ they do, but read between the lines and you’ll have lots of conflict-based story ideas: Politicians fighting with groups, rival politicians, policies, legislation, etc.
46. Variety stores: Frequently on a store counter, you’ll find
donation jars for various causes or benefits. Occasionally, there are even petitions hoping to attract the signatures of customers.
47. Notices on storefront windows: these windows can feature
a mish-mash of notices, everything from community events to legal notices about a business being shut down.
48. Community newsletters: For example, Ontario Power
Generation publishes a newsletter for employees and the community. Sure, it’s a public relations vehicle, but there are story tips. Get on the mailing list of companies which send out such newsletters.
49. Go for a walk: Go for a walk through your downtown and
ask people and retailers what folks are talking about in town? What’s happening that’s newsworthy? What are some issues? What’s the best thing that’s happening? Who would make a good human interest story?
50. Letters to the editor: They offer additional viewpoints on
subjects, possibly other angles for stories. The writers are also commonly Average Joe Citizens bringing to light an injustice, a complaint or opposition/approval of an impending decision by government.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blog Guide for Citizen Journalism


"It takes only Rs10 (around 0.2 cents) for a person to become a journalist," one of my former colleague said while commenting over work of those journalists who did not consider journalism knowledge more important, "just buy a small notebook and a pencil, and start taking notes."
But, the Internet channel made it easier.
Now, you even don't need a piece of paper or a pencil to become a journalist! besides, you don't need any newspaper to work with!
What you need is to share the information with the people and be called a citizen journalist.
You can do it easily in two ways. Go to street or a park and tell the people what information you have. If it poses you dangers then the other and the best option is to start a blog and be called a citizen journalist.
Here, though you don't need to become a member of any media group, you'll have to win trust of your readers by providing them with authentic information.
Ten point guide provided by the International Center for Journalists on citizen journalism would guide you in detail about becoming a publication-less journalist! Tips related to safety measures and collection of information are useful not only for citizen journalists but also for the full time journalists associated with print as well as online media. You can read tips here as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Daniel Pearl World Music Days


Daniel Pearl World Music Days are being celebrated from 1st to 15 October throughout the world. People who love peace, pursue truth and are keen to give voice to the voiceless would form a community to celebrate the days in his memory.
Daniel Pearl, known as Danny among family and friends, was a Wall Street Journal reporter and was killed in Pakistan in 2002 while pursuing truth for his story.
At the time, Danny was kidnapped I was working for a regional daily newspaper in Karachi. There was no trace of Danny for a few days, then heard about his death. He was kidnapped and killed by the terrorists who never wanted him to unearth the truth. The news of his death shocked the peace loving journalists in Karachi.
I'm inspired of his work, after reading his stories, work on him and meeting his friends as well as colleagues at The Wall Street Journal in Washington DC Bureau, I found that he was a man, a friend, a truth seeker, a peace lover and a citizen of the global world.
Though what is done can not be undone. Our celebrations could not bring him back, but by celebrating the Daniel Pearl World Music Days we can strive for the peace, which was one of his missions. Let's participate in this global network of concerts and register your performance at Daniel Pearl World Music Days (www.danielpearlmusicdays.org)

Friday, September 14, 2007

I got luck in Nepal


Friends, Welcome to my blog. I'm starting my blog with a post from Nepal.

It is a coincidence, my first foreign visit was Nepal (2005) and got the blog idea from this valley too.


Last month, I was again in Nepal at the end of the month. I like this country, as it got not only peaceful people (with exception to Maoists), and beautiful valleys. I got my best friend in Nepal back in 2005.

Well, I was telling you my unusual experience.
On early morning of Saturday 1st Sept, I planned to visit Nagarkot, uphills near Kathmandu (a ride of around half an hour) alongwith one of my colleagues. When reached at the peak of the hills, I wanted to take some pix from several angles and went inside the bushes. Rain made me go back to hill and find the way downwards. Our Cab was waiting for us.

Rain started heavy pours and we had to say ‘bye’ to Nagarkot. then we went to Bakhtapur (a town in our way back to Kathmandu), where we went inside a jewelry shop. Suddenly, my attention went to my left foot, which I thought was wet.

Something red was visible between my fingers and the chapel I was wearing. I thought I had a crushed rose, but where did it come from.

I realized it was not rose but blood coming out from my fingers. My colleague was afraid. “how did u injure it?” she asked, but I had no idea. She thought I was beaten by any snake or so when I went alone inside heavy bushes at Nagarkot. What it could be? We had no idea, I was feeling no pain, but was badly bleeding.

Requested shopkeeper to provide some cotton, he managed it anyway. we asked the shopkeeper, who looked a wise person, whether there were poisonous insects in the area. While washing my fingers, I found a worm sucking my blood. The shopkeeper told that it was rather a good sign and ‘you would meet a luck today,’ he said. He said that when such worm bites the person finds luck, Nepalese believed.

I made some new friends at the day. I call my friends 'my luck'. Isn't it?