Spring 2006

Advice About Doing Project and Daily Reporting at the Same Time

By Dan England

What follows is more practical guidance about how to do large projects reporting at a small-staffed community newspaper, while also continuing to get news into the daily paper. — D.E.

  • Offer free movie tickets, for example, in exchange for good story ideas developed through e-mail conferences with reporters, photographers, copy desk staff, and those who work in other departments.

  • Start early. Post a schedule for each installment of your series, showing specific dates when copy needs to be to editors, including photos and graphics. Encourage reporters and photographers to spread out their work on the project, both to enhance their reporting experience and also to have time for the daily obligations they must fulfill.

  • Have reporters and photographers set up appointments for when they will see their subjects. This forces them to adhere to a schedule, even when they've got a story due in two days.

  • Hold meetings every few weeks about the status of the project. Not every person involved in it has to get together, but at least one editor should be there to either prod those working on stories or pat them on the back.

  • Work on the project as it's being reported. Type in notes upon returning from a reporting session. This will make it much easier to organize the story when it's time to write. Photographers should also edit their pictures as they take them. The more attention given to these details as the story is being done, the easier the series will be to put together.

  • Build in time for writing and selecting images. Editors will also need to set aside time to work with writers on revisions, and then designers need time to put the words and images on the page. This step appears obvious, yet it is often the most overlooked when putting a project together.

  • Have fun. Doing double-time to produce a project can be exhausting, but it's also why we became journalists.

Dan England is a reporter and part-time editor for the Greeley Tribune who covers the outdoors and entertainment.


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