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Chapter Summary
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  • News is everywhere, but beat reporters focus on specific topics or institutions.
Assigned to a New Beat. Now What?
  • Do research.
  • Talk to your predecessor.
  • Achieve a mind-meld with your editors.
  • Meet people.
  • Make lists (key sources; upcoming meetings and events; story ideas).
Advice and Suggestions
  • Ideas and advice for covering a specialized beat: a list of organizations providing advice and resources for most common beats (e.g., business, education, health care, science, etc.)
  • Working a beat: Do's and Don'ts. Every beat is different, but a few general truths apply to all.


Obit Style: Watch Your Language
  • Most publications develop guidelines dictating how reporters handle addresses, cause of death, past personal problems, flowering phrases and other terminology.
Types of Obituaries
  • Standard news obituary
  • The feature obituary: adding depth and character
Advice and Suggestions
  • Essential information: name, identification, age, day/place of death, cause of death, birth date/birthplace, background, survivors, funeral/burial information.
  • How to talk to families about the deceased: six tips.


Guidelines for Writing Stories on Traffic Accidents
  • Writing the lead
  • Writing the rest of the story
  • Checklist of information to include: victims, extent of injuries/cause of death, cause of accident, location, time, circumstances, vehicles, arrests or citations, comments, acts of heroism, relevant facts.
What to Do When Disaster Strikes
  • What to do to prepare your newsroom.
  • What to do when you arrive on the scene.
  • Disaster Web sites: a list of some of the best online resources.
Dealing with Victims of a Tragedy
  • Advice on telling the story honestly and professionally-and with extra sensitivity.


Guidelines for Reporting and Writing Fire Stories
  • Checklist of information to include.
  • Options for organizing your details and drama: writing the lead, covering the aftermath, and adding dramatic narrative.
  • Crime news attracts and repels readers. How much crime coverage is enough? Every newsroom sets its own threshold.
Crime-writing Style and Structure
  • Add color, not clutter.
  • Avoid sloppy allegations.
  • Explore chronological story forms: Most crime stories are breaking news, so they're written in inverted-pyramid style. A suggested alternative is to begin with an inverted pyramid lead, shift into a chronology, and then end with a kicker.
Advice and Suggestions:
  • Advice on covering the crime beat more effectively: nine tips.
  • Some details should be withheld from stories: minors, victims of sensitive crimes, endangered victims, suspects and stereotypes.
  • Checklist of information to include in stories on homicides or assaults.
  • Most trials aren't newsworthy, but some cases are exceptions: murder cases, celebrity trials, important legal rulings, and human-interest stories.
Advice and Suggestions
  • Tips for reporters covering the court beat.
  • Contempt of court: Be careful—or you might wind up in court yourself.
  • Checklist of things to include in court stories.
A Guide to Criminal and Civil Court Procedures
  • Misdemeanors
  • Felonies
  • Civil suits


Advice and Suggestions
  • Tips for covering speeches: before, during and after.
  • Checklist of things to include in a story on a speech.
  • Whether you're covering the school board, the state legislature or the Amateur Orthodontists' Club, it's your job to explain what the issues are, how decisions are made, and what it all means to readers.
Advice and Suggestions
  • Tips for more effective meeting coverage.
  • Checklist of things to include in a story on a meeting.
  • Tips to keep your meeting coverage as compelling as possible—and to help your readers focus on what's most important.
  • Personalizing meeting stories: Write about real people, real issues.
  • Personalizing meeting stories: Look for ways to involve readers.
  • As a political reporter, you'll become part teacher, part watchdog. You'll take a front-row seat from which to scrutinize and demystify key aspects of the government beat: decision-making, the election process and money.
Advice and Suggestions
  • Where to go for facts you can trust: meetings, speeches, news releases, news conferences, your network of sources, documents.
  • Advice on covering campaigns and elections.
  • The advantages and dangers of using unnamed sources.
Five Unfortunate Truths about Covering Politics
  • Advice, commentary and a sprinkling of cynicism from a panel of veteran political reporters:
    • Politicians lie.
    • Politicians will schmooze you so they can use you.
    • Everybody believes your stories are biased.
    • People don't want to read about the government process.
    • You must peel away layer after layer to get to the truth.


Sports writing: The Three Most Common Types of Stories
  • Game stories
  • Feature stories (analysis stories; profiles)
  • Columns
Advice and Suggestions
  • Checklist of things to include in a story about sports.
  • Compiling and crunching sports statistics: Conduct solid research, take careful notes, use stats selectively, and add charts, graphs and sidebars, if needed.
  • A brief intro to sports style: The AP Stylebook offers comprehensive advice, but every publication customizes its own rules.
  • Tips for reporters on the sports beat: covering events and writing stories.

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