Vision AfriKa brought in a professional journalist last week to train staff on how to write stories for the organisation’s website in order to boost the quality of information provided to stakeholders.
The half-day session, which took place at the charity’s Ikhaya Trust Centre offices in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, was conducted by UK journalist, Cath Everett, who started working on a voluntary basis for Vision AfriKa about five months ago.
While writing news stories for the website has to date proven tricky for many participants, key insights from the day included the need to provide readers with clear, factually-correct information that got straight to the point.
It also became clear how important a story’s opening paragraph is in encouraging people to read on. A useful tool here was for attendees to pretend that they were writing a quick postcard to their mum, which meant summing up the main point of their article in less than 30 words.
The course itself was based on experiential learning techniques, in which attendees were required to analyse a newspapers and other articles in order to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
After having established what criteria made a good or bad story, staff members were then given the limited timeframe of 20 minutes to write a news article based on a press release in order to put their learnings into practice.
Although writing is likely to remain a difficult task for many participants for some time to come, it also became clear that the more they write, the better they will become as only practice makes perfect.