Tips for journalists

Journalists: the Riftside Review is happy to publish your stories, in-game, in its weekly edition. News stories of this era look a little different to today, and there are basicly two formats:

  • short (NIBs): 1 - 100 words, without a headline. A sentence or two (or ten) about something that has happened or is about to happen. “A posse is being assembled to hunt the man who robbed the bank yesterday” is a perfectly fine NIB. So is “the Quartermaster has fresh oranges in”. A short account of the hunt, and what happened when the posse found the miscreant, or the subsequent orange riot, would also work.

  • full: up to 300 words (that’s half a column), with headline. 300 words doesn’t sound like a lot, and its not - basicly the length of an average blog post.

It is unusual for any individual news story to be longer than this, so don’t be worried if it doesn’t seem like you haven’t written much. It looks a lot bigger in a 5cm wide column, believe me.

Deadlines: I haven’t settled on this yet, but if we’re aiming for a 6pm Saturday publication, then the absolute deadline is likely to be 4pm, and the earlier news is in the better. You should drop items off at the news office throughout the day so it can be put into paste-up. while I am expecting to receive handwritten submissions and to then type them up, if you want to surreptitiously type stuff up yourself and give them to me on a stick, that would save a lot of time. Plain text, or something OpenOffice can read please.

Modern journalism is all about the direct quote. 1869 journalism isn’t. Its an account of what happened, including what was said (often, exclusively what was said), but it is rare to actually quote people. So write down what people said, but don’t be too fussed about getting it exact. If they violently correct you later, then that’s another news story.

Modern journalism is also all about objectivity, and the reporter or newspaper does not feature in the story. This is an idea which is only just beginning in 1869, and it is normal for stories to say things like “we have heard” or “we understand that”, as well as to mix comment and fact. Basicly, the authorial voice is different from what you read in the Herald or the Dom-Post. But the subeditor can always fix that.

Tips for getting stories:

  • write down everything that happens. There’s a fight? Write down the where and the what, and maybe the who. Someone tells you something interesting? Write it down. Something weird happens? Write it down. Someone has a big gun? Ask them about it, and write it down. Try and turn it into one or two sentences - this is where your NIBs come from.
  • ask people what’s happening, especially if they seem important. Someone new has come to Consequence? Ask them who they are and why they’re here, and write it down. Someone got arrested or shot by the blood and bone? Ask the chief compliance officer why. Bored? Ask the quartermaster what’s selling and what they need, and write it down.
  • Go along on expeditions. Someone’s leaving town to hunt for that miscreant? Go along and write down what happens (or make a show of your cowardice, then ask them what happened afterwards). There’s an opportunity cost here, in that while you’re off with them, you won’t be getting stories elsewhere, but don’t sweat it. If the editor has to print filler because there isn’t enough news, well, that’s a thing that actually happened. First and foremost, do what is fun for you as a player. This is a game, not a job.

Is there going to be a “Pre game” issue? If so, can we submit advertisments etc to be published in the first issue?

There is a pre-game issue, dated the previous week, and there may be a copy or dozen lying around in the game space if we get them printed and to the setup crew in time (it was mainly done as a test article, to practice layout and iron the bugs out of the production process, but since it exists, we might as well use it).

I understand that all player-characters are arriving in Consequence IC. But if the GM’s permit, and it is appropriate to your character, we would be happy to accept advertisements via telegraph.

Or by post, actually. There’s a specific “Business cards” column (because this was A Thing), so professionals with business cards can drop them (or just their details) at the newspaper office on Friday or Saturday to get them in Saturday’s edition.

Also announcements that some business or other are coming to town could easily be a NIB: “We have received news that $name, $profession will be setting up shop in Consequence. There is no news yet on the location of their premises, but they expect to be $doingstuff from $date” is a perfectly normal local news piece for this era.

Also: if any of the journalists want to write the editorial (~200 words, and you get to sign it with your initials), then feel free. We’re here to give a voice to the players.

Talking of business cards being dropped at the Journalist office, are we just talking a standard 2" x 3" card thing: “Person X does thing Y, {florid text}”

Sure. Or, if you haven’t got in-character business cards, then just write a short note. A business card listing looks something like this:
(From the Emporia News, Emporia, KA)

So its basicly saying “hey other characters, I do a thing! Come and bug me!”

I’m hoping to fill a full column with them, but they’ll get as much space as they need.

For people who don’t have business cards: I have a template, and some 210gsm snow-white card. So I could print you some in-game. Alternatively, if you send me details earlier, I could have an envelope waiting for you either at the office (whereever it ends up), or the quartermaster.

I would love the template, and definitely would like to get a precreated business card.

Message or email me the details and there’ll be an envelope for you on Friday.