Monday, October 26, 2009

Covering Wildfires: Resources for Reporters

InciWeb (Incident Information System): Details from various federal and state agencies on latest fire activity and contact information for those fighting the fire.

National Interagency Fire Center (Boise): Lots of information, stats, procedures for fighting fires on public lands.

Firewise: A national program designed to inform people who live ear wildlands.

Federal agencies that fight or monitor fire: National Forest Service (search by forest, i.e., Lolo National Forest, Bitterroot National Forest, Helena National Forests; also the service's northern regional headquarters are in Missoula), Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After a disaster, FEMA may arrive on the scene.

Montana Department of Natural Resources: Responsible for wild fires on state land (and there's more of it out there than you think.)

Society of Environmental Journalists: Here's a tipsheet on wildland fire coverage.

Know the lingo: Here's an online glossary of firefighting terms. Be careful in your translations.

Stories: Impacts on humans, wildlife, ecosystems, economy; fire management policy, prevention, disaster aftermath (emergency housing and necessities, rebuilding loans), investigations.

Ethics: Here's a guide produced by journalists on how to provide more effective coverage of tragedies and disasters.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This Week in Public Affairs Reporting

This week's assignments:
  • A story from your beat.
  • In-class assignment (Wednesday)


  • Esquire's Chris Jones, this year's Pollner prof (that's him in the picture), delivers the annual Pollner Lecture at 7 p.m. Monday in the University Center Theater. Should be good.
  • is offering student journalists a free pass to sessions of its annual real estate and development conference, which kicks off Monday afternoon. Lots of story possibilities for those of you with local economy, environment and government beats. Clicke here for details.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Last Deadline Council Story Monday Night

We're covering Monday night's City Council meeting, and there's no doubt about the big news. After two years of work and no small controversy, the council is likely to approve a new zoning ordinance. (So what? What might that mean to your readers? What's the reaction?)

You could easily put together a few background grafs before the meeting, based on information from the city's special zoning Web site, which offers answers detailing why the city pursued this and what major changes Missoula residents can expect. Do do a good job of translating this.

For good background on the legal controversy, see the Missoulian's Friday story. The paper's city reporter also posted a pdf of the judge's decision.

Of course, zoning isn't the only newsworthy matter on Monday's agenda.