the 5 w's

In the realm of journalism, the quest for truth is paramount. It’s a journey that involves the navigation of layers of information, the discernment of facts from falsehoods, and to shed light on stories that shape how we understand the world. As we embark on this journey, let’s delve into the intricacies of reporting, and explore the fundamental questions of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW.

The WHO: Unveil the faces behind the stories

Every story has its protagonists, whether individuals, organizations, or movements. These figures drive the narrative forward, and leave an indelible mark on the world around them. From mayors breaking barriers to leaders shaping religious landscapes, the WHO behind a story provides context and significance.

In our journey through the WHO, we encounter a myriad of characters—from evangelical pastors entangled in scandals to visionary leaders who champion causes. Each individual or group brings a unique perspective to the story.

But the WHO extends beyond mere individuals; it encompasses institutions and movements that shape our collective consciousness. Whether it’s a college embroiled in controversy or a ministry grappling with financial scrutiny, the WHO behind a story is essential to unravel its deeper implications.

The WHAT: Unravel the events that shape our world

At the heart of journalism lies the pursuit of truth, and the WHAT of a story encapsulates the events that shape our world. From legal battles over election disinformation to the rise of influential figures in religious circles, the WHAT uncovers the layers of human drama and societal change.

In our exploration of the WHAT, we navigate through a landscape of diverse events—some uplifting, others sobering. Whether it’s the triumphs of nonprofit organizations or the pitfalls of individuals caught in scandals, each event leaves an indelible mark on our collective consciousness.

But the WHAT is not merely a recounting of events; it’s a reflection of our values, aspirations, and struggles as a society. When we unravel the WHAT behind a story, journalists shed light on the forces that shape our world and challenge us to confront uncomfortable truths.

The WHERE: Map the terrain of human experience

Location adds depth and dimension to a story. It provides context and nuance to our understanding of events. Whether it’s a bustling city or a quiet town, the WHERE of a story offers insight into the geographical and cultural landscapes that shape human experience.

As we journey through the WHERE, we traverse diverse terrains—from vibrant urban centers to serene rural communities. Each location carries its own significance, and serves as the backdrop for the unfolding drama of human life.

But the WHERE extends beyond mere geography; it encompasses the spaces where ideas clash, cultures converge, and identities intersect. When we map the WHERE of a story, journalists paint a vivid picture of the world we inhabit and the forces that shape our lives.

The WHEN: Navigate the passage of time

Time is a crucial dimension of journalism, marking the rhythm of human history and the evolution of events. From the immediacy of breaking news to the gradual unfolding of long-term trends, the WHEN of a story offers insight into the dynamics of change and continuity.

In our exploration of the WHEN, we traverse the timeline—we capture moments of triumph, moments of crisis, and everything in between. Each moment carries its own significance, and shapes our understanding of the world and our place within it.

But the WHEN is not just a marker of temporal progression; it’s a reflection of our collective journey through time.  The WHEN of a story illuminates the contours of history and invites readers to engage with the past, present, and future.

The WHY: Probe the motivations behind human action

Motivation lies at the heart of human behavior. It drives individuals and organizations to pursue their goals and aspirations. From the pursuit of justice to the quest for power, the WHY of a story uncovers the underlying motivations that shape our world.

In our exploration of the WHY, we delve into the depths of human psychology—probing the desires, fears, and beliefs that drive our actions. Each motivation offers insight into human nature and the forces that compel us to act.

But the WHY is not just a psychological inquiry; it’s a reflection of our values and priorities as a society. When journalists explore the motivations, they shed light on the deeper dynamics that shape our world and challenge us to confront the underlying causes of social change.

The HOW: Understand the mechanisms of human endeavor

Behind every action lies a mechanism—a set of processes and strategies that enable individuals and organizations to achieve their goals. From the mechanics of fundraising to the intricacies of legal battles, the HOW of a story unravels the mechanisms that drive human endeavor.

In our exploration of the HOW, we dissect the inner workings of institutions and movements—revealing the strategies, tactics, and challenges that shape their trajectory. It allows us to explore human agency and the obstacles we must overcome to achieve our aspirations.

But the HOW is not just a technical inquiry; it’s a reflection of our capacity for innovation and adaptation. By understanding the mechanisms of human endeavor, journalists illuminate the pathways to success and failure.

Conclusion: Navigate the depths of human experience

In our journey through the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW of journalism, we uncover the layers of human experience that shape our world. Each question offers a unique perspective.

As journalists, we have a responsibility to navigate these depths with integrity, curiosity, and empathy. When the intricacies of human experience are unraveled, we shed light on the forces that shape our world and empower readers to navigate the complexities of our shared reality.

In the pursuit of truth, let us continue to explore the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW of journalism—uncover the stories that challenge, inspire, and transform how we understand the world.

**This is based on the workshop “Reporting religion news for Christian and general audiences” presented by Steve Rabey. You can watch the full workshop on-demand for free.**

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

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