I ate bananas everyday in high school. In ninth grade, I joined my schools cross country team, and afterwards quickly learned the awful, muscle stabbing pain that was a running cramp. Then, my team captain let me in on a little secret: bananas help prevent cramps. I don’t know if there was any scientific evidence behind this allegation on bananas, but I quickly made bananas part of my daily diet.
I started eating bananas because I wanted to improve my running, and this is exactly what journalists need to do: eat their bananas. Except now the thing journalists need to digest daily is not fruit, (though blueberries do help memory…) but as much news as possible if they want to improve themselves and beat out their competition.
To be a writer, one needs to know about what it is that they are writing. Like, really know. Not just, “Oh yeah, Obama he gave that speech that one time about that thing…” The topic of your news story has to be like your best friend, and you know all the weird and interesting facts about them down to a science.
But how does one do this? Submerge yourself in the internet. Social media is the new, modern way of finding out important facts and stories as they are unfolding. Follow news organizations on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, look at Snapchat, go on reddit. It will take serious self control to not look at the plethora of cat videos on these sites, but social media was designed for the one thing news stories want: the sharing of information.
The more news organizations you follow the more stories you see, the more stories you see the more you know, and the more you know the more knowledge you have, the more knowledge you have the more power you have as a writer and a news editor. The more information you gather and invest your time into the more content you have to post about and the more diverse your Web page is.
Not only this, but how NBC reports the controversy of vaccinations is different from how BuzzFeed will report in the topic. Read all of it. Learn what facts were emphasized in one article over another, or what sources were quoted in one story but not mentioned in another. Familiarize yourself with these things and adapt it to your own reporting and blogging.
This “news diet” is something journalists should be doing everyday. Sure, you can take a day off, eat a cupcake and stream Seinfeld all day. But while you’re becoming one with the couch every other online publication is more updated and informative than yours. Knowing the news gives you a leg-up on other online competition, something important to have in such a fast past and shifty medium. So read the news. Eat your bananas.