Try this: Quick-hit formats for meeting and game coverage

It’s 9:45 p.m., and the volleyball team just finished a nail-biter of a five-set match.

Maybe it’s 8:30 p.m., and the Student Congress just wrapped up its weekly Tuesday meeting.

Maybe it’s not late at all, but you’re on a one-hour turnaround deadline, have a ton of information from a back-and-forth meeting, and aren’t sure where to start.

Enter the alternative story formats one of our guest speakers discussed during his presentation during Fall 2015 orientation. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s assistant managing editor introduced how the newspaper is using nontraditional story formats to break stories into easy-to-understand (and quick to write) “chunks” for the reader. An added benefit is the ease of use on mobile devices, where most students are using The Shorthorn. Here are others:

  • Focused writing. Focusing on the top news helps the writer target in on what the reader needs to know – the news – right away and cut through the clutter on a deadline.
  • Note I said cut to the timely deadline story, not abandon the need for an in-depth story. Followup is critical on key issues and allows you to go in-depth on an issue mentioned in the deadline story.

We’ve come up with two types we’ll put into practice at The Shorthorn for daily web coverage: meeting coverage and game coverage. During the assignments phase of a story, editors will review whether these are appropriate, so you’ll know in advance. Here are the templates:

Meeting coverage
Must include three sources
INTRO: Three or four paragraphs with strong news lede focusing on action taken (not that the meeting took place)
ALSO NOTABLE: One or two paragraphs on a second item or noteworthy occurrence (special guest, secondary action or agenda item, etc.)
OTHER ACTION: Bullet list of other action items or notable comments. Include at least one source in this list.
THEY SAID IT: A noteworthy quote from the meeting. This should be an opinion on something referenced above (facts do not make good quotes).

Game coverage
Must include three sources
INTRO: Three or four paragraphs with strong news lede focusing on key play that won the game/match/meet (not that the meeting took place)
ALSO NOTABLE: One or two paragraphs on a second item or noteworthy occurrence (special guest, record set, etc.)
OTHER ACTION: Bullet list of other action items or notable comments. Include at least one source in this list.
THEY SAID IT: A noteworthy quote from the press conference or from social media. This should be an opinion on something referenced above (facts do not make good quotes).
BOX SCORE: Story should not repeat majority of stats in box score.

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