Covering speeches • Before • Research the speaker. • Request an advance copy of speech. • During • Get a good seat. • Estimate the size of the audience. • Monitor the mood of the crowd. • Take along a tape recorder. Speeches: Before, during and after
Covering speeches • After • Create a compelling lead. • Avoid topic leads. • Include minimal background/ biographical data. • Highlight speaker’s key points. • Convey tone of speech. • Beware of false or libelous comments. Speeches: Before, during and after
Covering speeches • Speaker’s name • Relevant credentials • Reason for speech • Time, day and location • Description of audience • Quotes • Comments • Responses • Speaker’s fee Speech story checklist
More on speeches How to cover it: Take copious notes Make observations Listen for the new, important or unusual (audiences don’t care about old news!) Listen for summaries Keep asking questions!
More on speeches The reporter must answer the following questions before writing a speech story: What is the key point? The answer to this question becomes the lead to the story. What are the other major points? All of them should be rated. Which quotations are the best? The reporter must look for quotations that best illustrate the speaker’s points and also make the story readable.
More on speeches Is any of this news? Reporters who have done their homework will know if the speaker has given the same speech before. When is the deadline? If there is time, the reporter can ask more questions. Or if the speaker has made charges, the reporter can obtain an opinion from the other side. In most speech stories, reporters simply write a brief story on what the speaker said. If there is time to interview the other side, the reporter must start the research again to find the best possible rebuttal.
More on speeches When is the deadline? If there is time, the reporter can ask more questions. Or if the speaker has made charges, the reporter can obtain an opinion from the other side. In most speech stories, reporters simply write a brief story on what the speaker said. If there is time to interview the other side, the reporter must start the research again to find the best possible rebuttal.
Attributions Nine guidelines for wording and positioning attributions • Attribution at end of 1st sentence if multi-sentence quote. • Can start quote with attribution. Use full name 1st time. Put nouns before verbs. Attribution follows quote when quote is one sentence.
Writing obituaries • What’s the difference? • Death notice — brief announcement with basic facts. • Obituary — longer announcement and provides more history and detail. • Obituaries are read more closely by more people than any other part of the paper. • They tell stories. • They touch hearts. • They honor and inspire. Death is news
When the death IS the news MIAMI (AP) - Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor has died, a day after he was shot in the leg, said family friend Richard Sharpstein. He said Taylor's father called him around 5:30 a.m. to tell him the news. "His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me," said Sharpstein, Taylor's former lawyer. "It's a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans." He said he did not know exactly when Taylor died. Doctors had been encouraged late Monday night when Taylor squeezed a nurse's hand. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn't sure how he had squeezed the nurse's hand. "Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something," Sharpstein said. The 24-year-old Redskins safety was shot early Monday in his home in the upper leg, damaging an artery and causing significant blood loss.
Writing obituaries • Addresses • Cause of death • Past personal problems • Flowery phrases • Other terminology • Funerals are scheduled. • Masses are celebrated. • People die unexpectedly. • People die after surgery. • A man is survived by his wife. Watch your language
Writing obituaries You MUST get it right – errors in obituaries are traumatic for everyone involved. Double- and triple-check names, facts, survivors, etc. Be positive, but not mawkish. “Spotlight” obits are a way to highlight a local life; try to give the reader a tiny bit of insight into why this person is worth knowing about.
Writing obituaries • Use full names. • Find a phrase that best summarizes this person. • State age simply unless asked to omit. • Avoid details in mentioning cause of death. • Include birth date and birth place. Obituary checklist
Writing obituaries • List education, military service, honors and career achievements. • Name survivors in immediate family. • Include name and phone number for funeral home. Obituary checklist
Writing obituaries • Emphasize person’s significance in lead. • Lead should include • Name. • Major accomplishment or occupation. • Day, location and cause of death. • If natural cause of death, focus on personal history. • If unusual cause of death, details should precede the background info. • More prominent get more quotes. Writing a standard news obituary
Writing obituaries • Looser, friendlier style. • Create an illusion of intimacy. • Omit attributions. The feature obituary
Writing obituaries • Don’t be squeamish. • If you’re not sure what to say, use a script. • Be supportive. • Be willing to listen. • If it will be a long obituary, gather as much detail as possible. • Avoid the awkwardly obvious. Talking with families about the deceased
News briefs Boil all the facts down to the absolute minimum Lead should be especially concise and to-the-point Keep attribution to a minimum (use “police said” or “a spokesman for X said” instead of full names/titles, where possible
News briefs Ditch direct quotes unless they’re utterly perfect Tell readers what they need to know (e.g., the time of a PTA meeting, the phone number for a police tip line) Always use the inverted pyramid – no room for anything else
News briefs NEW YORK -- Three senior fire officials responsible for inspecting the condemned skyscraper where two firefighters died were stripped of their commands and reassigned Monday, and the New York Fire Department ordered intensive inspections of buildings under demolition. According to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), a preliminary investigation indicated that careless smoking by construction workers started the deadly Aug. 18 fire at the former Deutsche Bank building, which was being dismantled and cleaned of toxic debris after suffering heavy damage in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Two firefighters died of cardiac arrest while trying to battle that blaze. After the fire, the department acknowledged that it did not have a plan in place to fight fire at the tower and that it had not inspected the building's standpipe system, which connects fire hoses to its water supply, in more than a year, even though it should have done so every 15 days. Inspectors found pieces of the standpipe disconnected in the tower's basement. A deputy chief, a battalion chief and a captain at the firehouse in charge of inspections at the tower were being reassigned to headquarters, Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said.
News briefs LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The sole survivor from the airliner that crashed after taking off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport, killing 49 people, is suing the company that designed the runway and taxiway lights. James Polehinke, the co-pilot of Comair Flight 5191, filed suit against Avcon Inc. of Orlando. The National Transportation Safety Board determined last month that the pilots' failure to notice clues that they were turning onto the wrong runway was the primary cause of the crash. WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A federal inspector found an armed guard asleep at a gate inside the Indian Point nuclear power facility, but officials said Monday that there was no security breach. The inspector spent two minutes trying to rouse the unidentified guard Sunday afternoon before the guard woke up, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. The guard was alone on the second of three security rings around the two plants, about 35 miles north of New York City.