They came, they saw, they learned new ways to conquer through the written word. Twenty community journalists gathered at Gulf News headquarters for a special event hosted on November 21 to recognise their efforts over the past year.
These were the readers who filed the most community-based content and interacted with the newspaper through its various channels.
The art of writing is an ever changing thing, with as many different styles as there are writers. There is no right or wrong way to write, it just takes a passion for the craft, an eye for detail, a willingness to do a little research and feelings for the surrounding community and issues raised.
The community journalists received a tour of the newsroom, a special session discussing writing techniques and a conversation hour with Gulf News Managing Editor Mohammad Almezel.
During their tour of the newsroom, the community reporters had the opportunity to see the inner working of a news floor, where they learned that, like a machine, it takes many cogs, or in this case reporters and editors, working together to bring out an edition.
Following the tour, they participated in a discussion where the Readers Desk team answered queries on reader interactivity, query response time and what editors look for when considering content for publication. They also discussed various topics, such as journalistic ethics and the evolution of news due to social media.
The discussion segued into a writing workshop where the community reporters were lauded for their continued contributions to the newspaper and dedication to their communities.
Over the past three years through the Community Report section, Gulf News readers have brought issues, such as child and worker safety, unsafe driving practices, lack of parks and broken or damaged traffic signals to the fore, and called on the authorities to take action. They have also used the newspaper to create awareness about a multitude of causes such as breast cancer, autism and children with special needs.
While participating in the workshop, the community reporters were given tips on how to take their reports to the next level.
They learned how to grab their audience, express their concerns in a clear and intriguing manner, how to develop their own voice or style of writing and learned that reporting is more than just facts and figures, but also about feelings and heart as well.
The liveliest part of the evening was the question and answer period, where those gathered had the opportunity to address their concerns with the Managing Editor.
They began the session with questions on media law and the process behind the newspaper’s story selections, and followed up with their feelings on the new Berliner format and why Gulf News decided to change into the new multi-sectioned format.
The questions moved on to what the future of the newspaper industry in the wake of the internet revolution will be. They then queried about Gulf News’ reach, both in print and through its various online platforms and ended with which direction the newspaper will be heading in, in the coming years.
The gathering was held to give readers a chance to express their views, raise their concerns and contribute to the continued development of the interactivity process. It brought staff and readers together to learn from one another, each taking away valuable lessons and a better understanding.