Methods of Gathering News

However,  not  all  material  developed  by  the  PAO takes place on such a large scale. A visit by an important dignitary,  a  CO’s  speech,  the  return  of  a  ship  from extended  operations,  special  anniversaries,  observances of  national  holidays  in  conjunction  with  the  civilian community and athletic and entertainment events that will benefit charities are all created news items included in the future file. The PAO gives these events advance buildups,   spot   news   coverage,   and   occasionally, follow-up coverage. The future file is usually a collection of file folders, each  one  containing  advance  information  about  a particular upcoming event. It can also be as simple as a calendar pad with enough space in its blocks to write key  words  that  serve  as  reminders.  A  wall-sized  grid under plexiglass works well too. Another variation of the future file is the date-box. This  consists  of  31  file  folders  containing  advance material for each day of the month. Whatever  arrangement  is  used,  all  public  affairs offices  should  maintain  a  good  tickler  system  of upcoming  events  to  assure  complete  coverage  of  all news events. METHODS OF GATHERING NEWS LEARNING  OBJECTIVE:  Recognize  the  most commonly   used   methods   of   gathering   Navy news. The  four  most  commonly  used  methods  in  news gathering  used  by  Navy  journalists  are  observation, telephone conversations, research and interviews. OBSERVATION Observation  consists  of  your  actually  seeing  an event take place and then reporting what you have seen in the form of a news story. The difference between a good story and a poor one is often in the skill of the observer. Skilled observers use their eyes, ears, mind, notebooks and tape recorders. They make sure they get the   concrete   facts,   specific   figures   and   accurate information. They look for the colorful, the dramatic or the unusual in any situation. Skilled   observers   always   try   to   get   more information  than  they  actually  need.  They  know  it  is easier  to  discard  excess  material  than  to  retrace  their steps after the story is cold. Developing your powers of observation  can  come  only  through  experience.  You cannot become a skilled observer by simply reading a book. The key to becoming a good observer is to look for more than you see on the surface. TELEPHONE  CONVERSATIONS The telephone plays an important role in your daily work as a journalist. It saves you time, legwork and it often enables you to reach people who are ordinarily too busy to see you in person. Telephone  conversations  may  range  from  full-scale interviews   to   brief   queries   to   verify   or   amplify information. But regardless of how often you use this method  of  news  gathering,  you  should  keep  the following  points  in  mind: l l l l l l l l Know  what  information  you  want  before  you dial. Keep your pencil and paper handy. Do not call  someone  and  then  ask  that  person  to  wait while you look for writing materials. Speak politely indistinct, well-modulated tones. Be cheerful and businesslike. Make sure you get your facts straight. Ask the other person to repeat figures or spell out names. Avoid three-way conversations among yourself, the person on the telephone and somebody else in your office. Recheck your information by reading it back to the person who has given it to you. Record   the   conversation   using   a   “telephone pick-up” (a device that attaches to the telephone receiver and plugs into the microphone jack of the cassette tap recorder). Be sure to inform the person on the other end that you are recording the conversation  for  note-taking  purposes  only. Do not discuss classified information. Although a telephone is a very useful instrument, remember it is not the only, and not necessarily the best, method of gathering news. It should supplement, but not replace, all other methods. Whenever it is proper and convenient, use the telephone, but do not be afraid to engage in a little legwork RESEARCH Research  is  nothing  more  than  digging  out information  from  files  and  reference  works.  Research  is used to verify or amplify facts in news stories and to give depth  to  feature  stories  and  magazine  articles.  Very  few 7-3


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