However, not all material developed by the PAO
takes place on such a large scale. A visit by an important
dignitary, a COs 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,
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
METHODS OF GATHERING NEWS
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recognize the most
commonly used methods of gathering Navy
The four most commonly used methods in news
gathering used by Navy journalists are observation,
telephone conversations, research and interviews.
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.
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:
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 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