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Reporting is the essence of journalism. The depth and breadth of your reporting is what gives your story its power, its impact and its credibility.
Generally speaking, reporting is as simple as asking the person on the street their opinion about whatever it is you're reporting on. Reporting at demonstrations, rallies, public events and a news scene is often just about asking enough people the same question to get a sense of the event.
It's important to make sure you have a mix of sources for your articles: the best pieces will have voices from the community that the story takes place in, experts on the topic, and activists working to solve the problems you're writing about. Without a balance of different kinds of sources, articles will seem too lifeless or not informative enough.
When you're looking for experts or newsmakers, there are two tricks to reporting: knowing who to call and what to ask. With a little bit of web research you can usually find experts on your topic; if nothing is panning out, try a website like ProfNet or Multicultural Experts Online Sourcebook, which allows you to find the contact information for hundreds of experts on many different topics.
Another guideline to keep in mind, especially writing for WireTap and the alternative media, is the importance of finding a diverse range of voices for your stories. Women and people of color are underrepresented in the mainstream media, but there are several resources listed below that will make it easier to keep your story diverse.
Three Questions You Should Ask Before Reporting:
Society of Professional Journalists Diversity Sourcebook
Multicultural Experts Online Sourcebook
For more traditional experts in the academia, try ProfNet.com
FacsNet News Sources Database
For progressive librarians that could help you locate crucial voices outside of mainstream America, try Radical Reference.