Archive for the ‘Freelance Journalism Skills’ Category

I KEEP six honest serving-men
 (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
 And How and Where and Who.

These are journalist’s questions, taken from journalist Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. As a modern journalist, I would usually add a seventh. ‘How much?’ is a question on everyone’s lips, these days.

But it’s worth contrasting these ‘closed’ questions – which elicit information – with a coach’s questions. The open questions used by coaches, followed by a safe silence, allow the coachee to open up their own thinking about a subject.

As a journalist and a coach, I use both kinds of questions in journalism but, when coaching, I use only open questions.  In fact it was a matter of some pride for me when, training as a coach, I managed an hour’s coaching session without a single ‘closed’ question.  It was liberating for the client. And also in that instance, for me.

But coaches who wish to try their hands at freelance journalism – and there are many – should be wary of using the open question too liberally. Too many open questions will keep you in the interviewee’s hair for far too long – to your mutual irritation. Remember the purpose of interviewing is to elicit information. Closed questions achieve this. When acting as a journalist, it is not in your remit to help the interviewee envisage their future!


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For those who – possibly reluctantly – have to write or speak as part of their work, in Autumn and Winter 2011, Lonely Furrow Company will offer a rolling Continuing Professional Development programme. These will concentrate on special skills required in communication at work – such as story-telling techniques, interview skills, written communication styles and many more.

Lonely Furrow Company Events 

Current Listings:

(All events will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral CH60 9JF unless otherwise stated.)

October 26th 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Written Communication Styles  A CPD/Media Coaching workshop (£25)

November 23rd 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Body Language – showing not telling  A CPD/Media Coaching workshop (£25)

November 30th 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Organisational Story-telling Techniques A CPD workshop (£25)

December 7th 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Written Business Commmunications – emails, letters, press releases, articles. A CPD/Media Coaching Workshop (£25)

January 18th 2012 (1pm-3.30pm) Interview Skills A CPD/media coaching workshop. (£25)

Just contact me if you have further questions.

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Freelance Journalism comes in many forms. I should know. I’ve been a freelance journalist since 1985, writing for national and regional newspapers and magazines – a wide portfolio – and I can tell you, although the audience may vary, the skill set is clearly-defined. So, for some time now, I’ve been running a series of freelance journalism skills’ workshops. And, for those of you close enough to Heswall, here is a call to action for an information-packed and exhilarating Out of the Box Workshop placed firmly in that series.

The subject of this workshop – due to take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 9JF, on May 18th 1.00pm – 3.30pm (cost £25) – will be Interviewing Skills. Whatever your subject and whatever your angle, if you want to freelance, at some point you will have to interview someone. This could be a nerve-wracking experience in itself. And – even worse – the next question could be how do I survive when I’m the one being interviewed? This workshop will offer non-media savvy professionals a practical survival guide for one of the most difficult kinds of conversation you can have.

Subsequent workshops – taking place on an ad-hoc basis – will include topics such as self-publication, press releases, sourcing ideas and many more. Please see this blog for more details.

Could you let me know by May 10th(12 noon) whether or not you intend to come to Interviewing Skills. Numbers are restricted to 8 so be quick! And, even if you don’t live close enough to Heswall to join the Programme, please remember these workshops travel!  Why not contact me to book a workshop for a group near you?

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