If You Want People To Care About Your Writing, You Need A Good Story First

As a journalist, when you put your work out there for the world to see, you obviously want the world to care. Yet, in order for people to care about your story, you need to have one worth caring about to begin with.

This is what Mark Blaine discusses in the second chapter of his book, The Digital Reporter’s Notebook. With the chapter titled, ‘Why Do I Care?’, Blaine gets to the nitty gritty of writing stories that people will actually care to read. He ultimately says that stories need three things: Quality, Novelty, and Usefulness. Readers should be getting a story that is reliable with multiple trustworthy sources, contains new information, and this information could actually be used to help them.

Once a story has these three main components and the assembly of it has been decided, then it is time to develop the story further. You have the information — the facts, quotes, etc. — according to Blaine, this is where the story truly comes alive because you add context to bring everything together. The context of the story allows the reader to develop empathy for the “characters” in the story. This makes your story even richer and keeps the reader intrigued about the topic of your story.

Blaine ends his discussion by encouraging writers to reach out to their audience and get feedback in order to grow as a writer. He calls it an “on-the-fly focus group”, which is something all budding and veteran journalists can learn to do.

Opening Image: Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash


Social Media Usage Is Up – Even Your Grandmother is on Board

There is no doubt that social media has taken the world by storm. With constant talk about who posted what on Instagram or that funny cat video your aunt shared on Facebook, it seems as though social media is everywhere now.

With the founding of Facebook in 2004, there has been a steady increase over the 12 years in social media users for all age groups, according to studies done by the Pew Research Center. As expected, when social media was in its early stages, the most common group of users were those in the 18-29 year old age group with a small, but mighty 12 percent of users.

Although overall social media use has increased, it is interesting to point out that the percentage of users in the 18-29 year old age group has plateaued since 2013 in comparison to the 65+ age group which has witnessed an increase in social media use: from 26 percent in 2013 to 34 percent in 2016.


Source: Pew Research Center

When looking strictly at the social media use of 2016, it is clear that Facebook has the greatest use in comparison to other platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. In addition, the social media platform, Instagram, has the greatest age gap with 59 percent of users belonging to the 18-29 year old age group and only 8 percent of users in the 65+ age group.

Source: Pew Research Center

Only time will tell if social media will continue to reign supreme. With more and more people going on the grid each day, it is obvious that these platforms will continue to change throughout the future. Until then, catch me sending out tweets to my favorite celebrities and of course, getting that aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed.


Maps, Colors & More of the 2017 French Presidential Election – Critique of Data Story

With the anticipation of the results of the French presidential election in full swing, NY Times used maps and graphs to help readers understand the results thus far. How did they do? Well, let’s take a look.

In an article titled, “How the Election Split France”, readers get a brief description as to what the first round of voting results are with pictures of the candidates and their poll ratings provided, followed by two maps of France, each demonstrating the areas of support for the top two candidates: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Using blue to represent Macron and red for Le Pen, the illustrator used lighter shades to represent less support and a darker shade for greater support. The maps provide enough information to show where each candidate received more support since it is obvious there was greater support based on the darker color of that specific area.

The article also includes a map of France where a color represents each of the candidates. However, this map can be interpreted incorrectly because the map shows a significantly greater amount of salmon (representing Le Pen) than baby blue (representing Macron), yet Macron received a greater percentage (24.0% compared to Le Pen’s 21.3%). Also, the map includes a color for Jean Lassalle and not Benoît Hamon, even though they mention Hamon in the article and not Lassalle.

The final component of the article focuses on how neither the Socialist or Republican party will win the election this year and then using a graph to show that between the 2012 and 2017 elections, there was an influx in support of “Other parties”.

Overall, the article did a decent job in displaying the results of the election. I thought the colors were helpful in the first graphic, but not as effective in the second graphic since the colors were misleading to the results and there was some confusion involving the candidates.

Yet, the reader can takeaway from the article that this election is close and a game changer.


Christiana Mangiapane – Video Story

In a world full of stress and chaos, some find their outlet through dance and some of these people go by the name of Christiana Mangiapane.

Since she was two years old, Christiana has embraced this art, particularly through ballet, but enjoys tap as well. Not only is she a dancer, but her two younger sisters, Victoria and Arianna, are dancers as well, where they take after their mother, who danced her entire life.

Dancing serves as a stress reliever for Christiana, where no matter how hard she tries, she knows that she will eventually achieve her goals through dance because she is just that passionate about it.

For years to come, Christiana says that she will always keep dance as a part of her life, even encouraging her future children one day to follow the same path she did.

To see the interview and Christiana’s beautiful dancing, click below.


Robots Deliver Food Now? – Video Story

With so many videos on the Internet, it is difficult for some viewers to find actual news stories on Facebook. However, with BuzzFeed News’ ability to captivate their audience through their videos, it comes as no surprise that when needing to write about a non-broadcast video story from a news site, one would go to BuzzFeed News.

One of their more recent videos, titled This Robot is ACTUALLY Delivering Food in California, has received over 143k views in less than 24 hours since its upload.


How come a video like this has received so many views? For starters, the topic is quite intriguing considering the idea of robots delivering food seems impossible, but the way BuzzFeed News puts together the video enables the viewer to stay and watch the entire two minutes and 17 seconds.

The first shot, a man sitting on a bench as a robot rolls down the sidewalk followed by the man trying to steal the robot, but failing to do so. The video then cuts to the man saying “Robot – 1 Human – 0” which leads the viewer to think: Well, what’s going to happen next? BuzzFeed News then provides more information through text on the screen as the viewer watches a variety of shots of the robot rolling around Los Angeles, enabling the viewer to visualize how the robot would actually work. The interview with the associate of Starship Technologies also adds an intriguing perspective to the video because the viewer can learn about the brains behind this concept. Plus, they keep the story upbeat and fun with the techno music that plays in the background.

Through the use of text as well as a variety of up close, medium and over-the-shoulder shots, BuzzFeed News provides the audience an insight as to how cool it would be to have robots delivering our food. Now, where do I sign up?



John Mangiapane of Mangia Pizza & Restaurant – Photo Story

In New York, especially Long Island, there is pretty much a pizza place on every corner right next to the Dunkin or bagel shop. With so many pizza restaurants, how does one stand out amongst the competition? Well, John Mangiapane of Mangia Pizza & Restaurant, has been finding a way since opening his restaurant in 2001 after deciding to expand his family’s pizza place, which was established in 1987.

Serving homemade Italian food from pasta dishes to pizza, Mangiapane has had customers  coming back for years. While owning a restaurant is no easy feat, he has been able to find the balance between spending time with his family and making sure the restaurant stays afloat. With his witty charisma and easygoing personality, it is no secret that customers come back solely for the food. Explore a day in the life of John Mangiapane as he spends his Sunday afternoon at Mangia Pizza and Restaurant.


Arriving at Mangia Pizza and Restaurant in the early afternoon, John Mangiapane steps through the doors of the pizza parlor.


After receiving a to-go order, John Mangiapane places the ticket in the ticket holder to start the order. Mangia Pizza and Restaurant sends out approximately 70 deliveries per day.


John Mangiapane tosses dough in the air, one of the steps in preparing the pizza dough for the traditional Mangia pizza crust.


Taking a fresh pepperoni pizza out of the oven, John Mangiapane places the hot dish into a pizza box so that it is ready for the customer to pick up.


With the freshly made boxed pepperoni pizza in hand, John Mangiapane hands the to-go order to the customer.


John Mangiapane asks how the orders are going with employee, Anna, as she prepares a to-go order of zeppolis. Zeppolis are one of the many desserts offered at Mangia Pizza and Restaurant, with others including Italian ices and fried oreos.


John Mangiapane observes as employee Anna hands out the to-go order of zeppolis to the customer. Mangiapane oversees eight employees, ranging from cooks to waiters to delivery persons.


John Mangiapane adds a to-go order into the system from a customer’s phone call.


John Mangiapane pulls a slice of ricotta pizza from the case of pre-made slices. Mangia Pizza and Restaurant offers customers 15 different combinations of pizza toppings.


John Mangiapane asks customers of 15 years, Don and Eileen, how they like their meal. “I love being able to serve the customers a quality good meal,” Mangiapane said. “I get a good kick when I get to see people eat something that makes them happy.”


After a long day at the pizza parlor, John Mangiapane heads out the door to head home in order to get up the next day ready to face the upcoming challenges and triumphs.




California Hates the Rain? Oh Yes. – Photo Critique

California rarely gets rain, like ever. However, just recently southern California faced a harsh rainstorm, leaving many to face devastation, which can be seen in NBC News’ slideshow, Powerful California Storms Leave Thousands Without Power.

In just 13 photos, the various photographers were able to perfectly encompass the emotions of the individuals as well as the degree of devastation that was occurring. Almost all of the photos followed the “Rule of Thirds” guideline, which created white space, enabling the reader to see the aftermath of the rainstorm, rather than solely focusing on the people in the photos. For the most part, the slideshow consisted of wide and medium shots that allow the reader to focus on an individual, yet see the environment surrounding the subject, which is important when a story is on the weather.

The pacing of the slideshow gets progressively worse in regards to the degree of destruction. For instance, the photo story begins with a man in the rain, but by the 4th image, we see a woman getting saved by firefighters, followed by a tree crushing a car in the 10th image. Also, the first four photos are people-heavy, where the main subject of the photo is an individual and you’re looking at their reactions. Yet, the next nine photos place a greater emphasis on the devastation, such as the firetruck and tractor that fell over the freeway in the 8th and 12th photos.

In addition, the first image—a man standing in strong rainfall on the Huntington Beach pier—encompasses the great strength of the storm, which sets up the reader for what is coming. The last image, a man walking his dog on the beach, was chosen because you can see the storm passing and sunshine peeking out, which closes the story because after rainfall comes sunshine.

Overall, the captions are very generic and strictly give information of who/what/when/where as well as facts of the rainstorm that could relate to the photo, which works since the reader wants to know what is going on, but it would’ve been better if they got a quote from some of the people to really grasp the reactions of the citizens.

However, none of the photos have unusual angles or are graphically-striking because the intention of the slideshow is to display the destruction from the rainstorm so the storyteller would want to get all of the information out there rather than have really artistic photos of the event.


For a story like the one of a great rainstorm occurring in Southern California, the storyteller did an incredible job demonstrating all that was needed to know and no better way than through photography.