Today we will build on your readings to discuss effective ways to write and cover meetings and speeches. A lot of what young journalists do involves going to meetings and writing stories based on their outcome. We’ll talk about the best ways to situate those stories to best convey to readers what they need to know. Finally, I’ll assign your next homework assignment and go over other assignments at the end of the lecture.
When covering meetings, there are a lot of things to be done before, during, and after the meeting has taken place.
Before you go…
You will also want to…
During the meeting, it is important to…
You’ll also want to…
Once you leave the meeting and you’re preparing to write your story…
When organizing your story, it is important to keep several things in mind…
Let’s look at some examples of hard news ledes. Which of these best conveys the outcome of the meeting and its impact on readers?(read first) This example doesn’t work, because it doesn’t even tell the reader what happened. Remember, inverted pyramid assumes the reader may not continue reading the story, so he or she needs to know what happens right off the bat.(read second) This is better, in that we at least learn what happened, but it doesn’t tell the reader anything about why he or she should care or anything about what is really happening.(read third) This is the best example because it point-blank says what the vote means rather than focusing on the meeting or vote itself. It also presents a bit of the conflict between the students and administration, which is good for drawing in readers to the rest of the story.
Here’s another example.(read one) Again, you want to keep the meeting out of the story as much as possible. Who cares that they met? We want to know what happened.(read two). This is better, but it still doesn’t tell the reader why he or she should care.(read three) This example shows not only what happened, but it conveys the impact this vote will have on the affected audience (the fishermen and women). This is the best way to get readers interested in your story.
Your book has several excellent examples of meetings stories that will be really useful to you as you work on today’s assignment. Turn now to chapter 18. Let’s look at the example on page 378 about an outdoor sculpture (it’s at the end of the chapter, if you have a different edition). (Read lede) You’ll note in here that there is no mention of the meeting in the lede. It simply says what happened. It also introduces the conflict between the neighbors, which could get the reader interested in the story. Beyond that, the story gets into more specific details about what happened. It is lacking in that the quote from the artist who won the dispute should have been up higher, underneath the initial details of what happened. Next, give dissenting opinions and get reaction quotes and details from these neighbors. You should strive to convey the impact of the story throughout, giving some background details about how this conflict came to be and why it is important.You’ll also want to fill in the blanks, as they do here, giving details about the councils’ conditions on the artist and concessions to the neighbors. Finally, the story ends with the next step (read last graf). This alerts the reader that the issue is not over, and there may be more stories on this in the future.
Let’s look at a specific type of formatting that will be helpful to you starting out called statement, evidence, quote. When you are presenting arguments or points throughout a story, it is a good idea to organize them in this way. Let’s look at this example from the story in your book. A statement is usually something generalized about one point or one side of an argument. (Read statement). Notice this statement is the view of many residents and summarizes one of their main arguments.The evidence gets more specific. (Read evidence). In this example, the evidence shows one neighbor, DeLo, who represents the “neighbors” discussed in the statement above.Next, you’ll want to provide a quote from that person that conveys that person’s emotion about the subject. (read quote) This isn’t the best example of a quote, as it doesn’t really give that much emotion, but it does a decent job of summarizing DeLo’s attitude about the council.
Throughout your story, you can use quotes as transitions between two points. For example…You can also use short, transitional words or phrases, like this one…You can keep it simple, using just one word as a transition. For example, you can begin a sentence with the word “but,” as in “But neighbors were not happy with the concessions from the council.” You want to try to stay away from the word “however,” because that is more of a literary word than a journalism word.You want to try to group similar information together in the statement, evidence quote format so you aren’t jumping around too much between points and confusing the reader. When you are writing your story, remember you don’t need to quote everyone. Just pick the best quotes that convey the most emotion.
Before we conclude,let’s go over a few writing tips to remember…
Here are a few examples for you to look up on your own that may help you with your assignment.
Go ahead and…
A few reminders and announcements before we finish up…
Covering meetings Jennifer Coxhttp://cmat240summer.wordpress.com
Announcements/Objective s• Discuss effective ways to write and cover meetings/speeches• Talk about story forms for meeting stories• Assign homework #2
Covering meetings/speeches• BEFORE the event• DURING the event• AFTER the event
BEFORE• Get an agenda! • Pick one item to write about• Research the speaker(s) • Ask for a bio • Do a Google search • Research past articles• Research the topic • Ask for any background materials • Look at past minutes • Do a Google search • Research past articles • Prepare a few questions
before• Look up important details • Name spellings • Organization spellings • Hometown • Age (if needed)• Be presentable • Dress appropriately • Bring a notebook, pens • Bring a recorder (if needed)
during• Observe • Audience size • Mood/atmosphere • Reactions• Take notes • Summaries of information • Direct quotes • Public comments
during• Brainstorm questions • Note anything unclear • Identify people to talk to later• Stay afterward • Talk to people about their viewpoints • Clear up any misunderstandings • Find out their future steps• Make your presence known • Give out your number • Ask people for their numbers • As to follow up as you are writing
after• Organize your notes • Highlight important information • Highlight/type out important quotes • Order your notes from most-important to least- important• Make follow-up calls• Identify the main point and write your lede• Write in inverted pyramid, NOT chronologically
Organizing your story• Choose ONE item – do not cover the whole meeting• The meeting IS NOT the story! • Does the time or location matter?• Be active: what happened? • Hint: the vote is not the most important thing; what does the decision mean?• Impact? • Is the size of the crowd important? • Is the tone of the audience important?• How does this event impact ME? • My wallet? • My lifestyle? • My home?
Lede examplesThe Salisbury University Student Government Association met Friday to discuss raising student fees.The Salisbury University Student Government Association voted against raising student fees at its meeting Friday. Student fees should not get a 10 percent hike, SalisburyUniversity Student Government Association senators decidedFriday, dashing administrative hopes for student support of the revenue-generating proposal.
Organizing your story The Salisbury Town Council met Tuesday to talk about raising the cost of fishing licenses. The Salisbury Town Council voted Tuesday to raise the cost of fishing licenses from $90 to $150. Fishing got more expensive Tuesday after the Salisbury Town Council raised the cost of fishing licenses from $90 to $150, inspite of protests from local anglers who said the increases would cause them to raise prices for their customers.
Story structure• Summary lede: what happened • No mention of meeting • Introduction of conflict• What happened – more detail, background• Reaction (quote)• Dissenting opinions, reaction quotes• Impact/background/so what • More quotes/reactions• More information about specifics• Next step/future
Story format Residents who live near the Fordes have called the sculpture junk and complainedStatement: that the artwork would block their view and spoil the character of the neighborhood. David DeLo, who lives across Cliff Drive Evidence: from the Fordes, said he was considering challenging the council‟s action in court. “If the council wants to place a piece of junk in a residential neighborhood, that‟s their Quote: prerogative, but this council has been overturned before,” he said.
transitions• Use quotes or transitional phrases, like “On the opposing side…” • Keep it simple: But… • Avoid “however” “It would have been a sad day if a community that sees itself as supporting the arts struck down an artwork in a private yard.” The sculpture had been the focus of an intense neighborhood battle. To appease neighbors, the council approved the sculpture on the condition that the Fordes place it as low as possible in the yard…• Group related/logical information together
Tips• Do not use first- or second-person• Use a summary lede!• Strive for balance• Don‟t rely solely on official sources; use non-officials when you can• Don‟t include your opinion• Ending: • What happens next? • Where can the reader go for more information
Meetings story examples• “Bill allowing „inspirational messages‟ at public schools passes hurdle”• “Atlantic Beach approves resolution supporting Mayport ferry”• “County expanding water treatment plant”
homework• Open the homework prompt I posted on the website• Read the instructions at the top• Use at least three of the quotes provided• No more than one page• Exchange with your peer editing partner• Due by 5 p.m. Monday
announcements• Remember, no lecture tomorrow• Crime story due by 5 p.m. tomorrow• Meeting story due by 5 p.m. Monday• Peer editing evaluations due by 9 p.m. Friday• Current events/readings quiz today by 9 p.m.• For Monday: Read Chapter 8 (Story Organization) & Chapter 7, pp. 134-148 (about story ledes)• Monday: Feature stories