warning KDMC resources are archived here. We are no longer updating this site.


Blending analysis and narrative: Five principles to follow

by: Nancy Yoshihara |

Integrating knowledge with compelling storytelling is at the heart of journalism, according to the Journalist’s Resource project at the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy. Often, however, the narrative and reporting overwhelm or distort the analysis - not good journalism.

To avoid such a pitfall, check out the Journalist’s Resource reprint of a road map written by Nicholas Lemann, a professor and dean emeritus at the Columbia Journalism School and a longtime staff writer for The New York Times.

Lemann writes that narrative and analysis “don’t naturally go together. Journalists more often unwittingly let the narrative distort the analysis than vice versa.”  He offers what he calls “an attempt at a journalistic version of the scientific method, aimed at protecting us from writing stories that are factually accurate and narratively compelling, but still fail to capture the truth of the situation.”

Here are the highlights of his five principles:

1. Awareness: Think beyond an overly simple conception of what the story is and what you’ve been told or read.  “As a first step, you should always stop and ask yourself what you have brought into [such as overly simple conceptions of what the story is] before you have begun.”

2. Form a hypothesis: Approach the reporting with an open mind, but Leman suggests you have a working hypothesis and include in your reproting what might prove the hypothesis false.

3. Map a discourse: Start with reading primary material yourself, understand what the different schools of thought are on your topic and the current state of the debate on the topic. Then decide on a plan for reporting all facets of the topic.

4. Evaluate data yourself: Avoid relying experts at face value. Study what information and what methodology were used by the experts to arrive their conclusions.

5. Transparency:   While journalism is not scholarship, clearly attribute sources of your information and reporting.


Nancy Yoshihara

Nancy Yoshihara is content manager at KDMC and its website with a focus on News for Digital Innovators and Tools, Tips
Read More

Newspapers under siege as 65 percent of digital ads go to tech companies

By Nancy Yoshihara
6/14/2016 | 10:00 pm GMT

Newspaper revenues and circulation, print and digital combined, continued to decline in 2015 while both cable and network TV enjoyed...

The Diversity Style Guide: Important resource updated and expanded

By Nancy Yoshihara
6/5/2016 | 10:00 pm GMT

Anyone who dismisses or ignores this guide should not be working in journalism. The updated Diversity Style Guide is one...