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Public affairs, part one. Speeches, presentations, meetings. Public affairs journalism. One of journalism’s most important tasks, and one of its most criticized. Often involves topics that are not pleasant to talk about. Media holds up a mirror to society.

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Public affairs part one

Public affairs, part one

Speeches, presentations, meetings


Public affairs journalism
Public affairs journalism

  • One of journalism’s most important tasks, and one of its most criticized.

  • Often involves topics that are not pleasant to talk about.

  • Media holds up a mirror to society.

  • Topics: Government, crime, courts, police and fire activity, injuries, death, destruction, etc.


Good training ground
Good training ground

  • Public affairs reporting helps people in the media learn:- Diligence – regular contact with sources.- Knowledge – learning their beats thoroughly, from what the public officials do to how they keep records. Dealing with people and reports quickly and thoroughly.


Training
Training

  • Accuracy – Reinforces the need for reporting information correctly.

  • Writing clear explanations – Media professionals need to know how to translate professional jargon (police, law, medical, etc.) to everyday speak for readers and viewers.


Events
Events

  • In addition to breaking news, the media also reports on manypre-planned events.

  • Speeches

  • Presentations

  • Government – local government meetings, projects, services, etc.


Before the event
Before the event

  • Do some background research.

  • What type of meeting, speech or presentation am I covering?

  • Who is speaking? What is the speaker known for?


Advance stories
Advance stories

  • Before many of these events, media may do a story to let readers/viewers know that the event is coming up.

  • Usually done within a week of the event.

  • Advance stories emphasize the basics:- What is happening?- When and where is the event taking place?- Who is involved?


Covering a speech or meeting
Covering a speech or meeting

  • Keys to doing a good job when covering a speech or meeting:- Advance preparation- Sounds news judgment- Accuracy- Ear for interesting quotes- Eye for compelling details


News judgment
News judgment

  • So, what should I emphasize in my story?

  • Information or developments that have an effect on your audience.

  • The more of your audience affected, the more prominent the information should be featured in the story.


In place of your audience
In place of your audience

  • When you cover an event or meeting, you are in essence a surrogate for your audience.

  • You are experiencing it instead of them. Let them know what it was like to be there.


Meetings
Meetings

  • Bodies of government meet on a regular basis.

  • At these meetings, decisions are made that have an impact on the citizens they serve.

  • Meetings are highly ritualized events.

  • Planning and preparation are key to doing a good job covering local governments.


Covering meetings or speeches
Covering meetings or speeches

  • Agenda/packet for meeting.

  • Speech or presentation – who is the speaker? What is the person known for?

  • Arrive early and get a seat where you can see and hear everything clearly.

  • Take detailed notes

  • If a controversial action is taken, make sure to get all sides of the issue.


Coverage continued
Coverage, continued

  • Accuracy – an ear for interesting quotations, an eye for compelling details.

  • Sometimes there is a press conference before a speech. Good opportunity to get information for your specific audience.

  • If it’s more of a presentation, get a copy of any handouts, written materials, reports, etc.


Preparing the story
Preparing the story

  • Speech/meeting/event stories need a central point like any news story- But sometimes there’s a lot going on.

  • Choose the development that has the most impact on the greatest number of people in the audience – That’s a good lead.

  • Most speeches have a central point or theme – that’s the lead.


Lead example
Lead example

  • The school board has adopted a $14 million program designed to reduce the high school dropout rate from 24 to 10 percent.In other action Monday, the board voted to build an elementary school on State Street and required every new teacher to pass a series of competency tests.

  • Second paragraph is a summary of other major developments. Story then goes back to reporting on the action in the lead.


Another typical lead
Another typical lead

  • One major topic, several minor topics.

  • Make the major topic the lead and focus of the story. List the minor topics at the end of the story.

  • Each minor topic gets its own paragraph.

  • Preceding the minor topics, typically a sentence like “In other business, the commission:”


A couple of don ts
A couple of don’ts …

  • Two common weaknesses in speech and meeting stories:- Attribution- Reporting in chronological order

  • Attribution – using the speaker’s name over and over and over. Alternate the last name with he or she.

  • Kennedy said, not said Kennedy.


Avoid chronological order
Avoid chronological order

  • Speeches/events/meetings are not structured in a way that makes for starting your story how they start the presentation.

  • Meetings start with pledge of allegiance, then go to proclamations to bowling leagues, etc.

  • Speeches never start “the theme of the talk I’m giving tonight is …”

  • Again, choose the aspect that has the most impact on the audience and go with that.


Transitions
Transitions

  • Your story should move smoothly from topic to topic. Keep transitions brief and specific.

  • NO: The board also considered two other topics.YES: The board also rejected proposals to increase students health and athletic fees.


Remember your audience
Remember your audience

  • With your leads, and story organization, as we’ve discussed.

  • Sometimes reporters are tempted or asked to produce stories to please the people who they are covering. Avoid.

  • Interact with those people quite often, the audience not as often, so sometimes this may happen without thinking. Always remember why you are there.


Check the facts
Check the facts

  • Just because something is stated as fact in a speech/meeting/presentation doesn’t make it so.

  • Make sure to double-check information, especially when it sounds fishy.

  • Double-check personal attacks, and get responses from those who are being attacked.


The scene
The scene

  • Quotations, both direct and indirect, are used in all speech/meeting/presentation stories.

  • Let us hear the voice of the speaker.

  • Also gives your audience a sense of what it was like to attend the event. You are experiencing the event for the audience.


The scene continued
The scene, continued

  • Describe what you see:- How many people were there.- How did the audience act?- What people were there? Protestors? Those interested in a specific topic? A group of 50 people wearing shirts with pictures of their pets?


Checklist
Checklist

  • Advance preparation

  • Get there early, get a good seat

  • Take detailed notes

  • Choose the topic that affects most of your audience as the lead.

  • Or the major topic of the speech as a lead

  • Describe the scene

  • Clear transitions

  • Check the facts, get all sides



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