“Truthful, Virtuous, Beautiful” Fo Guang Shan Toronto News Writing Workshop

July 30, 2023

In an effort to cultivate more advocates for Fo Guang News, the Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, in collaboration with the BLIA Toronto Chapter, hosted a two-day "Truthful, Virtuous, Beautiful News Writing Workshop" on July 23rd and July 30th. The workshop was led by Tracy Liu, the head of Fo Guang Shan Toronto's media team. Tracy shared her years of journalistic experience, offering a comprehensive explanation of news writing formats, key points, content, sequencing, as well as photography and editing techniques for news images. A total of 61 Fo Guang devotees participated, aspiring to become journalists for Humanistic Buddhism.

Venerable Chueh Fan, the abbess of Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, expressed that the preparation for this news training workshop spanned several years. Finally, the conditions were right for the event to come together. Throughout the years, Tracy has handled, distributed, and broadcasted all news pertaining to the temple and BLIA Toronto Chapter. As a significant BLIA chapter, Toronto should involve more members to document each event, thereby fostering greater awareness. She urged everyone to seize this valuable opportunity and grasp the knowledge and qualities that humanistic journalists should possess through training.

The training on July 23rd focused on the correct style of writing for news media. Tracy used a news article as an example to illustrate the characteristics of the "inverted pyramid" writing style. The first paragraph, around 150-200 words, narrates the who, what, where, when, why and how (5W1H). The second and third paragraphs cover the event's content, while the fourth and fifth paragraphs feature event highlights and the Guiding Venerables’ reflections. She emphasized that news articles should be written from a third-person perspective, objectively describing the facts in simple and clear writing, paying attention to smooth transitions throughout the entire piece. Event highlights have a finishing touch effect and require attention to punctuation. Captions for news images should be concise, including the photographer's name for accountability, credibility, and copyright purposes.

On July 30th, the course began with sharing key points for the previous group exercises on news article writing. Tracy then shared numerous sample images to explain the requirements for news photography: a clear theme, full scenes, emotion-capturing close-ups, and suitable backgrounds. She also demonstrated how to use editing techniques to precisely convey the story. Additionally, she outlined specifications and requirements for image captions. Subsequently, everyone had 30 minutes to go to various corners of the temple to practice taking photographs. After returning to the classroom, everyone shared their captured images and their intentions for taking them. Tracy provided individual feedback and suggestions on each trainee's photos.

Venerable Chueh Fan provided concluding remarks, expressing gratitude to Tracy for sharing her wealth of experience. Each participant represents the future hope of the FGS Toronto’s News team. Fo Guang News is now available in both Chinese and English. Venerable Chueh Fan hopes that by gradually improving their writing skills, all participants not only help spread Humanistic Buddhism but in terms of personal growth, also find inspiration and fulfillment in volunteering. 

Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, in collaboration with BLIA Toronto Chapter, hosted a two-day "Truthful, Virtuous, Beautiful—News Writing Workshop" on July 23rd and July 30th. Venerable Chueh Fan speaking to the participants. (Photo by Harry Ho)
Head of the Media Team, Tracy Liu sharing her experiences. (Photo by Harry Ho)
Participants focused on their training, during the workshop. (Photo by Harry Ho)
Attendees were divided into teams to practice writing news articles. (Photo by Harry Ho)
Teams discussing the structure of the news article. (Photo by Harry Ho)
Trainees of all ages discuss the structure of the news article. (Photo by Harry Ho)
Attendees practice taking photographs for new articles. (Photo by Harry Ho)
Devotees embraced a joyful learning experience. (Photo by Harry Ho)