Reading list for citizen reporters / online writers etc

Have you been thinking about writing but not sure how to begin what may seem like an extremely daunting task? You may be asking yourself how do I begin to write a story online? Or Will anyone read it? The following resources are designed to ease you into the writing process. This reading list contains various articles and videos that practically guide readers in and around writing online content.  

English Readings

Handbook for Journalists

“More than 100 journalists are still imprisoned around the world for the “crime” of having “bad opinions.” More than 500 have been killed on the job over the past decade. In 90 per cent of cases, their killers have not been caught.” This handbook was developed to assist journalists working in war zones.

Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015

An interesting report by Reuters on digital news for 2015 that examine the trends in 8 countries. The report mirrored last year trends such as the increase in digital media organization and highlighted the fact that people want access to free news.

Ten Steps to Citizen Journalism Online

In this document Stephen Franklin, Knight Fellow at the American University in Cairo’s Center for Electronic Journalism, outlines the ten steps to citizen journalism. Among these steps are “What to say and how to say it honestly and effectively.” This article is packed with useful advice.

The News Manual

This is a three part news manual designed to to help journalists build their news writing skills in a logical and natural way. The first manual addresses the basic techniques in news writing, while the second manual talks about advanced reporting. The final manual provides some important details on the ethics and law for media practitioners.

Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)

SPJ is a professional network that aims at improving and protecting journalism and has been in existence since 1909. This organisation has a history of encouraging a free environment where journalists can practice at a high professional standard. As an aspiring citizen journalist this association can be quite useful in providing a range of support.

Citizen Media Business Issues: Traffic Rankings, Search Engines, and Search Engine Optimization

Center for Citizen Media aims at enabling and encouraging grassroots media, especially citizen journalism. This resource began when the Centre’s Founder and Director Dan Gillmore recognised the upheaval in traditional media. For this reason this online resource provides a host of resources for citizen journalists that include conference and training seminars.

Tools for Citizen Journalists

This webpage provides a concise list of the basic tools around citizen journalism. These tools are useful in enabling people in gathering, editing and sharing information online using affordable platforms. These recommended tools are divided into different categories such as handbooks, blog hosting services and tools, and content management systems.


Zac Johnson provides 5 core steps to setting up a successful blog. In this resource Zac talks about the initial steps every blogger engages in. Among the various stages, planning appears to the key steps.

The 4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs

In this article the author offers 4 simple tips to take one’s blog from ordinary to exceptional. These tips include Focusing on content, writing strong headlines, and keeping it simple. The writer also suggests putting less emphasis on SEO, Design, Social Media and Monetizing.

20 Tips for Better Interviewing tips

Gregg McCalhan provides some practical journalism tips for interviewing. He warns about asking questions that start with Explain…? Tell me about… Describe… Why…? and ending interviews poorly… “I don’t know what else I should ask you. . .” Meanwhile, he provides 20 tips that will drastically improve anyone’s interviewing strategy.

10 Tips for tightening your copy

In this online resource the author provides a compact list of great tips for writing a stronger story. Among these tips are reading one’s story out loud, counting one’s story length and condensing the information.

Arabic Readings

The International Journalists Network (IJNET)

The International Journalists Network is a website that offers different interesting articles covering the media especially regarding the electronic journalism. You can find tips on how to engage your audience or optimize your writing skills.

Six Sockets of the Reuters Report of Digital News for 2015

For an Arabic analysis of the Reuters Report, check out the following link that shows six takeaways outlined by Ijnet that will prove useful for anyone working in the digital news arena. [Ar & Eng]

Palestine Media Academy

This document is prepared by the Palestinian Media Academy. It goes into the many differences between the printed and electronic media, from the format and design to the content and writing style.

Society of Professional Journalism (SPJ) Code of Ethics

SPJ designed this resource to encourage ethical journalistic practices. This organisation proposes four main four principles that guide journalistic practices: seek truth and report it, minimise harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent.

A Manual Prepared For The UNDP Peace-Building Project in Lebanon

Good tips and guidelines for journalists reporting from conflict zones, especially regarding objectivity.