Monday, October 31, 2011
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Friday, May 06, 2011
We didn't get to cover an election this spring, but elections are very much a part of most public affairs beats. Federal, state and local elections demand good, thoughtful coverage, so here are some links that may help you understand the process and the expectations for coverage:
Covering Elections: The Basics
Questions for Better Election Coverage
How to “Truth Check” a Campaign Ad
Fact-checking Election Claims
Monday, April 25, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
But be careful. Until a judge or jury decides the issue, lawsuits are just one-sided allegations, so be fair. Talk to both sides. Dig into the claims.
Here's a sample civil suit. Like most, it spells out what the person suing (the PLAINTIFF) is upset about and what he or she or it (a person, a business or a government) wants the defendant to do about.
Here are two versions of stories written about a sample suit. Look at how careful the writers were to include the other side and to attribute the information.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
- The Missoula Police Department's info on crime activity.
- The Missoula County Sheriff's Department's jail roster
- University of Montana Public Safety
- Montana Highway Patrol
- City of Missoula Municipal Court
- Missoula County Justice Court
- Missoula County District Court
- U.S. District Court in Missoula
Friday, March 04, 2011
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
As the Boy Scouts like to say:
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
1. Bolster your reporting with credible sources. Seek those who are the best qualified to address the subject.
2. Find multiple sources. Your reporting carries more weight if it rests on different perspectives. I won't accept stories with fewer than two sources.
3. Don't rely on friends, acquaintances, employers, family members, etc., as sources. You may think you can be impartial, but you can't.
4. No press releases, please.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Meanwhile, take a peek at the agendas for various council committee meetings this week.
I'll make you a special this-week-only deal, too. If you want to cover something from the city beat this week - in lieu of a story from your regular beat - go for it.
By the way, I wrote this post without using a form of the verb "to be." Try it. It forces you to use the active voice.
Monday, February 07, 2011
2. Write a story from your beat. The feature deadline is Friday at 5 p.m. Breaking news (spot news, event coverage) is due at midnight on the day it breaks.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
The social host debate in Missoula, and how it works elsewhere.
Streets need work, but it's not easy. Bridges need work. Potholes need fixing. More parking anyone?
Surveying the problem, but hard to tackle. Panhandling is an ongoing problem, too. The city's debate about that is news.
Growth and development
It's controversial. How should the city grow? Agreement is sometimes elusive. So what is allowed? Chickens? Sign pollution?
We have a new council member. Sometimes they make news off the job. Changes in members make news.
People care about this stuff.
Bikes, buses and big rigs make headlines.
Missoula's anti-discrimination ordinance made statewide headlines, and the so did the response. It's an ongoing issue.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Other key links include:
- A daily incident report from the Missoula Police Department.
- Press releases and news.
- Agendas and minutes.
- The city's budget.
- Some good Q&A help.
You can also catch up with news on the beat at Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller's blog, missoularedtape.com. I'd also urge you to sign up for Councilman Bob Jaffe's e-mail listserv. It's a good way to watch ideas develop into action.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
City Government: Mark Boatman, Miranda Dalpiaz
Cops and Courts: Spencer Veysey
Natural Resources and Conservation: Taylor Anderson, Chris Wood
K-12 Schools: Chelsy Ranard
Higher Education: Dameon Matule, Lindsey Sanders
Local Economy: Beth Beechie, Dillon Kato
Health: Tom Holm, Ian Keffler
By 5 p.m. Friday I want you to send me by e-mail a list of the major local agencies (city, county, state, federal) that govern your beat. The list doesn't have to be long.
I also want a 200-word paragraph explaining a recent local story on your beat that you think has "legs." Suggest how you might update or advance that story within the next week.
Monday, January 24, 2011
- Assignments and deadlines.
- Tip sheets and links to help with your reporting and writing.
- Examples of good reporting.
- Discussion about journalism ethics and the law.
By the way, here's your first assignment:
By 8 a.m. Tuesday, send me an e-mail with your first and second choice for a beat to cover. I’ll let you know your assignment by the day’s end.
The choices are:
1. The local economy – Lots of stories here. How are people in your community faring in this recession? What’s the market for jobs? Housing? Energy? Retail trends? A good way to start is update an ongoing story or localize a national one. What challenges do business owners face? What challenges do their workers face?
2. Missoula K-12 schools – You’ve got inside knowledge here. Education is about preparing people for change. So how’s that going? It’s also a big cost to taxpayers. How’s that money being spent?
3. Higher education – You’re a consumer as well as a student, so start asking questions. How well is this place preparing you for change? What works and what doesn’t? What’s new? What big projects and changes are leaders working on? Who’s running the place?
4. Missoula cops and courts – Again, lots of stories. This beat is big and newsy. You’ve got city police, a county sheriff’s department, the highway patrol, campus security and an array of federal cops (FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, ATF, etc.) You’ve got city, county and federal courts too.
5. City government – These folks are responsible for the safety and well-being of everyone in Missoula. You name it, the city deals with it. It provides police and fire protection, plans for growth, and maintains clean air, clean water, parks, streets and sidewalks. That’s the short list. This is a big beat with lots of news potential.
6. County government – Take the previous beat and apply those responsibilities over an area of roughly 2,600 square miles. Counties also act as an agent for state government. County courts prosecute crimes against the state. Counties collect property taxes and run elections. County officials maintain rural roads and plan for growth. They also share responsibilities with city officials for things such as transportation, libraries, public health, etc.
7. Health – Here’s another huge beat, especially today. From the latest on swine flu to the quality and availability of health care, this beat has lots of interest – and lots controversy. Think about breakthroughs in research and new treatments and care. Who’s providing what health care in your community? How good is that care? What does it cost? Who isn’t being served?
8. Natural resources and the environment – There’s no better place to cover this stuff than right here. The issues include climate change, wilderness policy, timber and mining policy, wildlife management, water and air pollution, environmental health, recycling, sustainable agriculture and industry. This beat is global with lots of local players.
9. Other – No list can cover everything, so if you have an idea of something with significant public policy angle, let me know. Here are a few I would consider: agriculture, sports/athletics policy, transportation, media/communications changes, etc.