Covering Speech

Tips for covering a speech
AIJI Labs
2005

1. Do background research on the speaker. Who is the speaker? What is his or her history? What is the speaker's correct title? How long has the speaker been in journalism? Has the speaker published any books? How old is he or she? Where does the speaker live?

3. Find the most interesting and newsworthy thing the speaker says. Paraphrase it and use it for your lead.

4. Find a strong, direct quotation that applies to the most newsworthy thing the speaker said and use it in your second paragraph to back up your lead (this is called a "lead quote.")

5. Be sure to include a paragraph that gives the who, what, where etc. that you couldn't fit into your lead. (This is called the nut graph. Make it your third paragraph). Include the size of the audience. Count or estimate the number of people attending.

6. Include enough background so readers will know who is the speaker and why he or she is giving a speech. You'll need at least a paragraph of background. Some of it can be in the nut graph.

7. In the body of the story, use about six or seven direct quotations in your story (no more than eight maximum). Make sure they're the best quotes - newsy, lively - that you can find.

9. Attribute any information you don't know first-hand or that indicates something the speaker thinks or believes, even if you paraphrase it.

10. Keep quotes fairly short: no more than a couple of sentences. YOU are the one telling this story, not the speaker.

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