Common Coverage Scenarios • Speeches and meetings are two common sources for everyday news stories and coverage. • Newspapers often publish two stories about major speeches and meetings: an “advance” story before the speech or meeting and a “follow” story, which reports on the speech or meeting itself.
“Advance” Stories • Advance stories or “advancers” alert readers, listeners or viewers to upcoming events they may want to attend, support, oppose, or at least pay attention to because they may affect them. • Most advance stories are published the same day a speech or meeting is announced, or shortly thereafter. • As a reminder to their audiences, news organizations may publish a second advance story a day or two before the speech or meeting occurs.
“Advancers” • Advance stories are usually fairly brief, emphasizing the basic facts of: what will happen, when and where it will happen, and who will be involved. • The leads for these stories should stress what is important or unusual, not just the fact that someone has scheduled a speech or meeting.
“Follow” Stories • “Follow” Stories or Covering a Speech or Meeting—covering these effectively requires perfecting some basic reporting skills: advance preparation, sound news judgment, accuracy, an ear for interesting quotations and an eye for compelling details. • “Follow” stories are published or broadcast after speeches or meetings, reporting on those events in detail. Therefore, they are much longer than “advance” stories. They are also harder to write.
Tips on covering speeches/meetings • Arrive early and find a seat that will allow you to hear and see as much as possible • Introduce yourself, either before or after, to the speakers and participants, if you have not met them before • Take detailed notes—to help you recall and understand what was said or done • Bring a tape or digital recorder to ensure accuracy • As you listen to a speech or meeting, try to think of groups or individuals who might have different points of view or who might be affected by actions taken. And then try to speak to these individuals or groups later so you provide readers or viewers with as complete a news story as possible (and as balanced as possible)
Writing Meeting and Speech Articles • It is important to identify a central point. What is most newsworthy about the speech or meeting you are covering? • There may be multiple newsworthy points to come out, so the reporter needs to organize the story so the most important topic is mention and covered first, in the lead. Or have a compound lead mentioning two or three important topics. • Also, you can summarize the major topic, then after a brief transition, use bullet points to hit on the other key things that came out of the speech or meeting.
Leads, as always– very important • Writing effective leads: avoid leads that are so broad or general that they contain no news. See examples on page 316. • After the lead, organize the story in inverted pyramid fashion, not according to the order in which statements were made or topics considered.
More Tips… • Vary the location of the attribution in direct and indirect quotes, so that the story does not become monotonous. • Provide transitions from one topic to another • Avoid generalities and eliminate or explain jargon or technical terms.
And finally… • Check controversial or questionable facts or assertions and give any person who has been attacked in the speech or meeting an opportunity to respond. • Include “color” in speech or meeting stories by providing direct quotations and descriptions of speakers, participants, settings and audience responses. • See also tips for covering speeches and meetings on page 322 ###