Meeting Assignment

Meeting News Story Assignment

Assignment: Go to a governmental meeting (City Council, Lane County Commission, neighborhood council, 4J School Board, Bethel School Board, Springfield School Board, etc.). Tweet 3-5 times from the meeting about what’s happening (for instance: Reporting1Suzi At the #Whiteaker Council meeting. Residents upset about proposed move of Cocktail Party to Jefferson Westside Neighborhood. #Eugene ). Then write a 400-600-word story about the most important thing that happened at the meeting, in hard news style.

This story is due on the blog (with photos, if possible) and over email to Suzi (ssteffen@uoregon.edu) by Wednesday, May 30.

Some tips:

  • Read the tip sheet for speeches/meetings (up on Blackboard)
  • Read the portion of Harrower (Inside Reporting) about reporting on meetings
  • Talk to at least  three people at the meeting, whether during or after
  • Observe what goes on at the meeting – who’s sitting where? Who talks when?
  • Using the inverted pyramid style, you’ll begin with (and write for some time about) the most important discussion/action at the meeting, and then you can mention two or three other things the meeting participants discussed down near the end, where an editor could cut the story
  • It’s hard to plan to stay for an entire City Council meeting or school board meeting, but you do not want to just leave and miss the most vital thing that happens. Read up about what’s most important that night ahead of time (the Register-Guard usually, but not always, has a story) and be sure to get the agenda of the meeting when you go.
  • It’s OK to ask speakers for a short interview after their important topic gets voted on or decided by the governmental body. Be sure to ask them to spell their first and last names and to let them know this will be on the Reporting1Blog.
  • It’s OK and often good to contact the government folks – city manager, mayor, city council, etc. – with questions right after you leave the meeting. Their emails are almost all online because they’re public officials.

About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (an adult tricycle named Momo) in Eugene, Oregon. For many years, she taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication. As of fall 2015, she's teaching in Oregon State's New Media and Communications program. Suzi also edits Lane Monthly and works as an arts journalist across the state and country. Email her at suzisteffen at gmail dot com; find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more info; and check out Lane Monthly in print around Lane County and online at lanemonthly.com.
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