Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Keeping the Breaking News Team Busy

Robert Bohler, the student media adviser at Texas Christian University, asked in my College Media Association listserv yesterday for ideas on keeping general assignment reporters busy and productive.

Because my paper had a group of continuous news reporters at Normandale Community College while I was adviser there and The Orion has a breaking news team, I had some thoughts I passed along:

• If you haven't already, purchase a portable police scanner that's passed from one reporter to the next. 

• The breaking news editor who supervises the G-A reporters should make sure they have work to do on their shifts. He or she should keep a physical or electronic basket of story ideas that can be worked or at least started during a short shift. These should include news releases that need additional reporting, phone tips, calendar-specific stories, etc. 
• Emphasize news briefs over 12-inch text stories. They get higher readership and keep your website fresh. And they can be completed, edited and posted on a short shift.
• Encourage reporters to grab a camera or use their phones to shoot people at campus events that happen during their shifts.
• Let them make extra calls on someone else's story -- breaking or not -- for a share of the byline.
• If you don't already have a beat system, start one. Shift time can be used to make those phone calls or office visits. If you do have beats, encourage your editors to brainstorm to expand the number and variety.

Maybe this should be part of the job description for The Orion's breaking news editor?

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