Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This week's deadlines

You've got a beat story due no later than midnight Saturday this week.

Breaking news (stories about timely events like crimes, disasters, court actions, debates, key decisions) need to be filed by midnight of the day they happen. That's the nature of breaking news.

Less timely news features (trends, profiles and behind-the-scenes looks at people or issues on your beat) are due later in the week.

Be mindful of the competition. It pays to be first in this business.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Covering City Hall

We're off to meet the Missoula City Council tonight. The show starts at 7 p.m., so get there early and grab a seat on the aisle leading from the door to the speaker's stand. The council chambers are at 140 W. Pine St., next to Sean Kelly's.

Your stories are due by midnight tonight.

By now you should have read the council's agenda and the city's argument for the special tax districts that are up for discussion tonight. Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller previewed tonight's action in this morning's paper. You'd be smart to give her story a read.

We'll prepare for tonight's work in class. But here's some style information you might find useful.

The Missoula City Council - That's its name, so capitalize it the first time you use it. You can refer it the council (lowercase) after that.

Titles - Formal titles like mayor and councilwoman are capitalized only when they precede a name, as in Mayor John Engen or Councilwoman Pam Walzer or Councilman Bob Jaffe. You can refer to them by their last names on subsequent references. Other unelected officials are often given a formal title, such as City Attorney Jim Nugent and Police Chief Mark Muir but most others are best described by what they do, as in Bruce Bender, the city's chief administrator, or Steve King, who runs the city's public works department.

Wards -Council members represent six wards, but you don't need to offer the ward description with their names unless that's important to know, as it might be in a tussle between areas of the city over, say, street repairs. In that case, I'd say Councilman Bob Jaffe, whose Ward 3 includes the University area, called for ...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Stories on the City Beat

Welcome to City Hall. We'll spend time there over the next few weeks learning how it works and how it affects the lives of folks in Missoula. We'll see who has the power there and how they use it.

A good way to learn that is to follow a controversy, and we've got one brewing. Here's the gist: The mayor wants to add a couple of new taxes to start pumping more money into building and maintaining streets and parks. (The city has had a devil of a time finding money for this kind of work.)

It won't cost a typical taxpayer more than a 12-pack of a national brand beer, but any new taxes right are bound to raise eyebrows. The idea's critics also point out that for at least the next year, taxpayers won't see any new road or park work. Instead, the tax will allow the city shift money around to avoid laying off employees and reducing other services. The mayor says he's cut his proposed budget enough already.

Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller is covering the story closely for the paper and for the paper's city blog, missoularedtape.com.

Do some reading there and on the city's website because we'll be covering Monday night's public hearing on this for a midnight deadline. Yep. By the way, you can sign up here for an advance peek at Monday's City Council agenda.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Handy Guide to Local Government

The Missoula League of Women Voters has great links to local government resources. Check out the right side of the page.

Public Affairs Beats, Fall 2010

Here are the beat assignments, based on your requests. Stay tuned for your first assignment.

Heather Pimley
Alyse Backus
Paige Huntoon
Daniel Mediate

John Crepeau

Higher Ed:
Ali Murray
Lynn Campbell

Natural Resources/Environment:
Hannah Ryan
Samantha Abel
Katherine Kettering

K-12 Schools:
Scott Ranf
Julia Williamson

Adrienne Ellsworth
Jon Tweeten

Alyssa Small
Emily Creasia