25 September 2009

How to write a good RiotACT post

| johnboy
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[First filed: August 10, 2009 @ 17:14]

There’s a number of you all raring to go posting stories for RiotACT with the changing of the guard.

As we’d hate to waste your, and our, time deleting ones that don’t make the grade here’s a quick list of do’s and don’ts for writing stories with a fighting chance of seeing the light of day:

Do: Include a picture. A weak story with a strong picture will get included where a stronger story with no picture might not. Either use your own image hosting or email it in to images@the-riotact.com

Don’t: Send in a story doing nothing more than recapitulating and linking to ABC or Canberra Times stories. The RiotACT team is quite capable of checking those sites too and, as we still have ambitions to be more than just a digest of those two organs, chances are we’ll have already reached our limit of stories from those sources already.

Do: Clearly mark out what are quotes from sources linked to and what are your own words. If we are in doubt, chances are we will not use the story.

Don’t: Reprint entire media releases. It’s something we might do, but we trust ourselves to not mis-represent the group making the statement. Not knowing you as well as ourselves, chances are we’ll can the story. Link and quote is the way to go.

Do: Tell us what you really think about the subject. This is not the place for the ABC’s faux objectivity.

Don’t: Say anything bad about a business or individual. Yes we’ve done it in the past but we’re sick of picking up the legal bills for other people’s right of expression. If it’s that important write it in your own webspace (blogspot is free) and let us know about it.

Do: Tell us about things that are coming up weeks in advance. We like getting them into our calendar. Poster art is always a bonus.

Don’t: Tell us about things that have passed unless you’ve got good pictures or some very strong editorial that can be a guide to attending future similar events.

Do: Assume that the reader does not have your degree of understanding the issue. Link to explanations, write for an intelligent person with no pre-existing knowledge of the subject.

Don’t: Rant without explaining what the causes are.

Do: Use a spell checker. Seriously, if you can’t be bothered hitting F7 and fixing your screw-ups why should we be bothered fixing it up for you?

Don’t: Use unfamilar acronyms without having expanded them at least once in the story.

Do: Write in paragraphs. If you can’t write in paragraphs then make each sentence a paragraph.

Don’t: Take it personally if your story doesn’t make it onto the site.

Do: Check, if the story’s been around for a few days, that no-one else has already done it. Maybe your idea about it is better off posted as a comment.

Don’t: Submit an an article advertising your business, or one in which you have a vested interest. We have advertising features for that sort of thing which our readers respond far better to. It also saves us answering the inevitable questions from readers about whether the advertorial has been paid for, or there is some hidden agenda trying to taking advantage of them.

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How do I know if my post was rejected or if I only thought I submitted it but hit a wrong button? (fairly sure it did though) My account states 0 posts yet I submitted one today. Are only the published counted?

Could someone point me in the right direction on how to add a pic? Not immediately obvious from the text edit toolbar. Tks.

If its legible, well written, has a point AND focussed on canberra and surrounds. Its likely to get a look in.

What kind of word count is typical, what kind of word count is excessive?
Do you want a stndardised style approach, or free-form?
(Personally, I am used to formalised style contraints)

Or is it all just a question of “If it is legible, well-written and has a point we’ll run it with minimal editorial change.”?

A very fine list – thanks.

Just one thing — you might want to be a bit lenient on the ‘write in paragraphs’ rule until the site software is a bit more predictable. Every post I’ve made here (but not comments) has had all the paragraph breaks removed by the site, and sometimes all line breaks as well.

OTOH probably no paragraphs + all caps is diagnostic…

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