Guidelines for reporting on events
The assignment you have in Advanced Reporting to do two reports on a news event has three purposes.
- It give you a chance to show your instructor what you can do as a reporter on a "routine" story.
- It gives you practice doing research on a story BEFORE you write the final report.
- This assignment serves as a transitional exercise to help you understand the distinction between events and processes in the news.
You will select an event to cover. You should begin this process immediately! If you delay, you may find that you are unable to identify an event that takes place in time for you to meet the class deadline.
In News Writing (JOUR 2310) and in Reporting (JOUR 3312) you have already had exposure to and practice with covering events. You have had many opportunities to cover meetings and to interview people. You had at least one exercise in writing an advance. Note, the "Meetings and Speeches" document in this Web site should be consulted for ALL event reporting; its principles are basic journalism principles.
The advanceIn covering an event, you will first write an advance. The purpose of an advance is to give your audience enough information about the event so that they as individuals or as groups can decide intelligently whether they want to participate, attend or take action. For example, you might be covering a city council meeting at which a vote will be taken to raise taxes or to allow liquor sales across the street from a high school. Your advance article informs people – who might have strong feelings on the topic – about events that have the potential to affect their lives. Your article must appear in time for interested citizens to do something about it. That means, you will turn in your advance at least one day before the event.
One major function of doing an advance story is for the benefit of your planning. Think through your story ahead of time. Who are you going to need to talk to when you actually cover the event? How / where / when will you get hold of them. Your follow-up coverage is due three hours after the event. If your event occurs on a weekend, you may have trouble getting back to people after the fact. You need to plan your coverage.
The follow-upFollowing the advance, you actually attend the event, observe what happens, make follow-up interviews and do other research as necessary, and report the event. In other words, you do follow-up coverage. Your follow-up report should lead with and focus upon those things we did not know prior to the event. It should answer any questions raised by your advance. Typically, you want your follow-up turned in within three hours of the event's conclusion. In any case, your classmates should not be able to read about the event in the AJ or the UD before you have your story turned in.
A closely related document in this Web site provides tips for reporting on meetings and speeches. Many of its principles apply to almost any event you might routinely cover. You should review the meetings and speeches tip sheet as you prepare for your event coverage.
Selecting an eventFor your event coverage, you may select any scheduled event that is NOT sports or entertainment. Regularly scheduled meetings are held by various school boards in the area, city councils, county commissions, water districts, hospital auxiliaries and other organizations. Additionally, large organizations have a universe of advisory boards that meet on a regular basis. The City of Lubbock has 26 regularly constituted advisory boards. Texas Tech has dozens of groups and organizations on campus. These include student groups, faculty organizations, staff associations and university-wide committees.
These groups have regularly scheduled meetings (some of which may not be very productive for news stories) and they often stage community events. Many have Web sites that can help put you in touch with group officials, and you can find the sites through the "official Web site formulae" taught in this class. On the Tech campus, university-wide calendars are available through Raiderlink, and through the "Tech events" calendar on the main Web site. Your challenge should be to select an event early and begin working on it. If you wait until the last minute you may find your event has been canceled, rescheduled or otherwise not productive. At the last minute it is too late to find another event.