Beat reporting


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A presentation on beat reporting presented at numerous conferences and for various journalism classes.

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Beat reporting

  1. 1. Finding Stories• Beat reporting• Reading the news• Reading bulletin boards, virtual and real• Attending events and meetings• Press conferences• Monitoring groups and issues via the Internet
  2. 2. Environment CITY GOVERNMENT Poverty PoliticiansCops What is a beat? . Courts Neighborhoods Any defined area of coverage IMMIGRATION WEIRD PEOPLEPolitics
  3. 3. Getting started• 1. Define the beat• 2. Make a list• 3. Deconstruct the dailies• 4.Start a tickler file• 5. Lunch with sources• 6. Quiz yourself
  4. 4. Step 1: Define the Beat What are the issues within your beat? What entities does your beat include? Who are the official people within your beat? What kinds of public meetings/events happen in your beat? What kinds of public documents exist in your beat?
  5. 5. City of Santa Fe Issues: Budget deficit,  Public records: City city politics, downtown development, southside budget, city meeting growth agendas, annual Entities: The Mayor, City report on Councilors, City Finance demographics, water Director, City Planning Director, City Planning use, development Commissioners, City Flak applications City Council meetings, City finance meetings, City Planning meetings, neighborhood meetings
  6. 6. Step 2: Make a list Top 10 people to meet. Public meetings in the next month to attend. Find out what documents exist, who’s in charge of them, file the requests. Analyze how the dailies are reporting on this area, if at all.
  7. 7. Step 3: Deconstruct a daily story • Highlight key names in the story • Highlight any statistics and reports they came from • Highlight the names of key organizations • Analyze for follow-up stories
  8. 8. Deconstruct & Use • Sources: City Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger, State Rep. Lucky Varela, Lynette Montoya, city economic development director • Documents: appropriation request, budget document containing rationale for amount of money needed • Organizations: UNESCO, Creative Santa Fe
  9. 9. Step 4: Start a tickler file • Create a system for tracking who you’re talking to and what you’re working on: meetings, interviews, p ublic requests. Share these with your editor or other writers to get more ideas.
  10. 10. Step 5: Talk to People • Make regular lunch, coffee, coffee, sn ack meetings with potential sources. • Get out as much as possible • Talk to people when you don’t need them. • Don’t rely on the Internet.
  11. 11. Reading the News• Reading other publications, looking for stories that were covered, but incompletely• Reading virtual and real bulletin boards to look for strange events, calls to action• Using Social Media to find stories and find sources.• Consider using Facebook for Journalists.
  12. 12. Events, Press Conferences, Meetings• Prepare: Research the people/issues at play for the situation so that you know what is happening• Try to arrange interviews so that you aren’t only reliant on what is said publicly• At meetings, look for what is most important/most interesting.
  13. 13. Use the Internet to stay in the loop• If there are organizations or groups that cover/work on issues you care about, sign up for list-servs, check their chat rooms/newsletters to find story ideas.• Set up a personal news page so that you are receiving articles and alerts on topics that interest you.