Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 12:51 UK

Top 10 tips: Reporting technology

Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent
Ask some searching questions of the people selling new products or trends - and ask consumers what they think. While the web is a wonderful research tool, be aware that not everything you read there is true.
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent

The BBC's technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, gives students his top 10 tips for reporting news about phones, games, computers, the internet and all things relating to technology.

1. Track those trends. Not long ago, technology news was something that happened in labs - now you can find it at home, in the playground, on the bus. Work out what is really new - and tell the rest of the world all about it. They may not be watching as closely as you.

2. Watch the web. Technology is, for obvious reasons, one of the big talking-points on the web. Find places where you can go to share the buzz - forums, news sites, and specialist technology blogs. The Technology section of the BBC News website and GigaOM are good for general technology news - and if you're into gaming you'll already know of a host of other places.

3. Find out what others think. The web - as you probably know - has become a very sociable place, and if you are over 13, social networking sites are one way to find out what's going on. Adults in the technology world now use micro-blogging services such as Twitter and Facebook as a way of sharing news and gossip. And if you are under 13, and want to find out if a boast about a new product - or an attack by users - is justified, why not socialise the traditional way and ask your friends and classmates for their views.

4. Experience it. You don't have to be part of the mainstream media (MSM as the bloggers call it) to get access to new technology these days. When Google or mobile phone firms come up with a new application, the products are quite often free - at least at first. Here's one example - Microsoft allowed users a free trial of its new Windows 7. Why not ask a teacher to check out some of the new free products - and write your own review.

5. Start your own blog. Having your own blog has many advantages. Just the process of starting it will teach you something about the way the web works, and then you will have a platform where you can learn to write, shoot, record - and create your own multimedia news service. And the fact that only you and your mum will be reading it may be a good thing - at first.

Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent
Rory consults his two sons about games and other technology

6. Avoid jargon.

You may know every arcane detail about the internal workings of your mobile phone or obscure facts about your favourite video game - but you won't reach much of an audience unless you can translate your thoughts on these matters into plain English. Every specialism has its secret language - but techie jargon is the worst of the lot. Do try to avoid it. Think of how you might explain the story to your mum or dad.

7. Take some pictures. If you want to be a multimedia technology journalist you will need a number of skills beyond writing. Learn to take decent photos - even shots from a mobile phone can enliven your copy if they're well-framed. Simple, free editing software is available online and can make your snaps look better.

8. Learn how to shoot. You don't need to be Stephen Spielberg these days to make a movie - as just about anyone with a mobile phone knows. And if you want something a little better than the shaky shots from your phone, there are now plenty of cheap and easy video cameras where you just point and shoot. Again, there's free video editing software around, and if you have a supportive teacher at school, who's ICT savvy, your two-minute report on the latest tech craze can be available to an audience of millions instantly - if they can find it. Using your piece as part of School Report gives you a link from the BBC website, which means more people will be able to locate it.

9. Be a sceptic. The world of technology is full of hype - every new product is a little miracle that is going to change the way we live. Don't get carried away with your own excitement, ask some searching questions of the people selling new products or trends - and ask consumers what they think. And while the web is a wonderful research tool, be aware that not everything you read there is true. Check it out.

10. Work together. Good journalism of any kind is often a team effort. That's even more likely to be the case for multimedia technology journalism - one of your friends might turn out to be a better website developer than you, another might be better at shooting video. Working together, you can create a much better product.

Pupils' technology reports
02 Apr 09 |  School Report


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