Overview and Rationale: Journalism often requires more than just talking to participants of the news. Journalist, in order to truly know and describe a story, must see things with their own eyes.
Directions: Students will attend an event, observe, photograph and report on an event of their choosing. This could be a concert, a meeting, a community event, an art opening, a play, or any other event. Students must interview one person from the event as well.
Grading will be based on description of the event in the article, use of an interview, and photographs.
Prepare Before the event, learn what you can about what’s going to happen. A sporting event might have a program or roster with the players’ numbers and names. A public meeting might have an agenda. A conference program will list the speakers. A more informal program will have an organizer who can provide an overview and some background.
But sometimes you need to go beyond the handouts and the organizers. Find some contrarians who can let you know about interesting turns the event might take.
Take good notes A helpful note-taking technique for events is to use initials or other abbreviations for people. For instance, if I’m going to be a speaker at the event, you might identify me as “SB.” But look the program over and be sure I’m the only person with those initials who’s speaking. If another SB is on the program, you might use “But” for me.
Take a 360-degree view At any event, the audience might provide some potential stories, sometimes a better story than the speaker or other focal point of the event. Look around and behind you during an event, rather than just being riveted on the speaker or the action,
Watch for the surprise Most events unfold as planned. But sometimes a surprise happens. A player gets injured. A coach gets angry. A protesters disrupt a meeting. You can’t plan for the surprise, but you must remain alert and adjust your plans when surprises happen.
Visual content Event coverage needs to include visual content. Unless you’re working with a visual journalist, you need to plan to provide the photos and/or videos needed as part of your coverage. Shoot photos of the speaker(s) and crowd. Don’t shoot from the back of the room (unless trying to depict a packed room). Get close enough to provide a clear shot of the action.
Write The sooner you can write after an event, the fresher and more accurate your story will be, even if you don’t have an immediate deadline. If you can write a few paragraphs during a break, before you know what your final story or your lead will be, you will help yourself write more quickly and accurately after the event.
Answer the question: “What’s this story about?” and that should give you the focus of your story, as well as helping with your lead.