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The Journalistic Six - Who What When Where Why How

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30 +1 + Medium

A questioning method for generating, explaining, investigating ideas.



To generate a more inclusive set of ideas. These are the six key questions that journalism students are taught to answer somewhere in their news articles to make sure that they have covered the whole story. For creative thinkers, these questions stimulate thinking about the idea in question and allow approaches to it from various angles.





    Number of participants: any

    Time needed: This depends on the number of participants.

    Pre-Work Required: The focus question needs to be clear.

    online facilitation: set up the shared documents or structure whiteboard to capture ideas and responses, share link with editing rights


    1. Who? (Actor or Agent) Who is involved? What are the people aspects of the problem? Who did it, will do it? Who uses it, wants it? Who will benefit, will be injured, will be included, will be excluded?

    2. What? (Act) What should happen? What is it? What was done, ought to be done, was not done? What will be done if X happens? What went or could go wrong? What resulted in success?

    3. When? (Time or Timing) When will, did, should this occur or be performed? Can it be hurried or delayed? Is a sooner or later time be preferable? When should the time be if X happens?

    4. Where? (Scene or Source) Where did, will, should this occur or be performed? Where else is a possibility? Where else did the same thing happen, should the same thing happen? Are other places affected, endangered, protected, aided by this location? Effect of this location on actors, actions?

    5. Why? (Purpose) Why was or is this done, avoided, permitted? Why should it be done, avoided, permitted? Why did or should actor do it? Different for another actor, act, time, place? Why that particular action, rule, idea, solution, problem, disaster, and not another? Why that actor, time, location, and not another?

    6. How? (Agency or Method) How was it, could it be, should it be done, prevented, destroyed, made, improved, altered? How can it be described, understood? How did beginning lead to conclusion?"

    Tips for using online


    Follow-Up Required: Process the ideas


    Source: Unknown

    History of Development: Unknown

    Alternative names: Six Wise Men

    Comments (1) (4.5 avg / 2 ratings)

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    • Great way to be comprehensive. Ask only the appropriate questions for the topic in each of the six areas.

      almost 7 years ago