Writing center liaison encourages reporters to build trust

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Jane Focht-Hansen, English and humanities professor, gives tips from her experiences as a former Ranger reporter to journalism-photography students on ways to improve as reporters and photographers Sept. 20 in Loftin. She said it was challenging to shift from English essay writing to journalistic style but recognized journalism provides its own means of creativity. Sarah F. Morgan

Writers need to become better readers, the former journalism student said.

Linda Owens


Protect sources, build trust and listen to students on campus are tips Jane Focht-Hansen, content specialist and faculty liaison for the writing center, shared with journalism students Sept. 20 in Loftin Student Center.

The English and humanities professor gave advice to the staff of The Ranger from her experiences as a journalism student here.

In the quest for stories, reporters must build a rapport with faculty and students to gather information that relates to the audience for the student publication.

Building a base of people who will provide information is essential, and it is critical to report the truth and not get quotes wrong, Focht-Hansen said.

Journalism sophomore Chasmi Stewart inquired about how to get answers when sources dodge questions.

Focht-Hansen said to ask questions different ways and rephrase the question. She also suggested reporters ask open-ended questions and smile while making sure their body language communicates a positive impression.

She said students should not be scared to speak to people on campus. Students in journalism should abandon restraint, hear the issues, develop an understanding and never stop learning.

“They should share their energy and pay attention to how people relate to them,” Focht-Hansen said.

“It is best to practice when writing down and formulating questions to remember the five W’s should grab the audience’s attention in the first few sentences,” Focht-Hansen said.

Students have a wealth of experienced instructors at their disposal in the journalism-photography program, Focht-Hansen said.

“No one does a perfect first draft when writing,” she said.

Professors correct writing errors to teach students so that they can learn to edit their own work.

‘It may take many attempts to get ideas on paper,” she said.

“If you are making the same mistake more than twice, pay attention to it and look it up in the AP Stylebook,” she said

Focht-Hansen said all writers need to become better readers by reading whatever they like such as books or magazines.

Focht-Hansen shared a memory of her mother’s way to get her to read.

“My mother was not a big talker; she would give me a hint and make me do the work of looking the information up myself,” she said. “I still write every day.”


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