Monday, January 31, 2011

Take a Tour of Missoula's Virtual City Hall

We'll be covering the City of Missoula next week. You can prepare for that by looking through the city's official website. Please make sure to sure to look over the City Council. You can also sign up to get a weekly e-mail telling you what's on the council's agenda for the next meeting.

Other key links include:

You can also catch up with news on the beat at Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller's blog, 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.

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, too.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Your Beats and First Assignment

Beat Assignments:

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

First deadline

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

Welcome to Newzhound

Come on in. Take a look around. We'll use this site in many ways this semester. Check in for:

- 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.